Thursday, 11 September 2014

Ebola virus: Schools’ resumption date shaky Say's by House of Rep

Doubts persisted yesterday over the September 22 resumption of primary and secondary schools nationwide as a result of the Ebola outbreak.
The House of Representatives Committee on Education has slated a meeting with Minister of Education Ibrahim Shekarau for him to convince Nigerians why schools should resume this month after doctors have cautioned against it.

The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) last week said the resumption date should be shifted.
But the government insisted yesterday that the date is in order because Nigeria is virtually Ebola-free.
Minister of Health Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu yesterday said delaying schools, resumption till December or early next year based on Ebola Virus Disease is “irrational fear”.

He spoke to reporters at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja.
According to him, the decision to fix September 22 was based on expert advice.
Insisting that it is safe for schools to reopen, he said there was nobody under treatment anywhere in the country for Ebola virus disease at the moment. He added that there was no community transmission of the disease in Nigeria, like in other countries.
Stressing that Nigeria is making progress against the disease, Chukwu said: “The minister of education, after meeting with the commissioners for education from the 36 states and FCT, decided when public schools should open, which they told us is  September 22. In taking that decision, they used information that was given by the Federal Ministry of Health to the fact there is actually no reason now, with the expert information we have at hand why our schools cannot resume earlier than the original date of Oct. 13.

“I think people should just allow us to do the work we have been doing very professionally. It was based on advice given by the Ministry of Health that the Minister of Education took the original decision that it was going to be in October and nobody quarrelled with the minister. Now the minister, based on expert advice, has come back to say ‘well, for us, if you are asking us, we don’t have any reason to stop that’.
“We are very serious, we should be sober about this situation in Nigeria; we must be extremely careful. We have allowed a football match to go on and we screened every fan in Calabar; we screened every player and everybody, even the governor and the wife were screened. We are dead serious. We are not perfect, but I know we are trying to encourage everybody in Nigeria to collaborate.”

He added: “We don’t need to close the world, we don’t need to say nobody should go to work in Nigeria. There is absolutely no reason for that.
“First, unlike in other countries, there is no community transmission of the disease in Nigeria; not one yet. But we have taken precautions; what we are doing, we may as well have said everybody should just be moving about, but we are taking precautions. There is no scientific basis for school resumption to be postponed.
On the NMA’s position, Chukwu said: “The only information I had from NMA is that someone informed me that he had been appointed to head a committee being set up by the NMA on EVD. And I replied that as a government and as Federal Ministry of Health, we look forward to collaboration. Now, collaboration doesn’t mean going to media. With all due respect,  collaboration means if they have information, they should give it to the Federal Ministry of Health or the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control.
Giving an update on EVD,  the minister said since the disease was imported into Nigeria in July, the country has had 19 confirmed cases; 15 in Lagos and four in Port Harcourt.

Those treated and discharged, he said, are 10 with the last two – the sister and wife of the Port Harcourt doctor – who died from the disease.
The total deaths from the disease in Nigeria is seven including five in Lagos and two in Port Harcourt.
According to Chukwu, 490 persons are still under surveillance in Port Harcourt while 16 persons have completed the 21 days surveillance.
In Lagos State, those on surveillance are 16 persons as 338 persons have so far completed the 21 days observation period.
Chukwu said the female student suspected of having EVD at the Obafemi Awolowo University had been quarantined. The case, he said, is being investigated.
Rivers State Commissioner for Health Dr. Sampson Parker said yesterday in Port Harcourt that the number of contacts with  Dr. Ikechukwu Enemuo, under surveillance had risen to 510.

Parker added that there is no new positive case in the state. According to him, the 18 month-old baby quarantined last Sunday tested negative on the first round; and that his second test result was still being awaited, and hence still in quarantine. He is a primary contact of the late Enemuo.
 “The 18 month-old infant that is the only patient we have at the treatment centre now tested negative in the first test. We are still awaiting the second test before he could be discharged. This is necessary for us not to make mistakes because he is a minor.
 ”Despite these successes we have recorded in Nigeria, so many Patrick Sawyers will be looking for ways to move over to Nigeria for solutions to their problems. That is why I think Nigeria and the West African sub-region should move down there to save the situation. It is time for us to move very quickly; that is the only way we can maintain our successes here.

 ”We are talking about the successes already recorded and any moment from now, the wife of Dr. Iyke Enemuo will be discharged from the treatment centre in Lagos, because she is doing very well. So, she will be discharged soon.
“Although the number of contacts under surveillance in the state has increased to 510, there is currently no patient that has tested positive to Ebola at the quarantine /treatment centre.”

The House of Representatives Committee on Education yesterday said it had invited the Minister and NMA to a meeting over the resumption date for schools.
Chairman of the House Committee on Education Aminu Suleiman told reporters in Lagos that the committee would meet with the minister and NMA officials on Monday to discuss the resumption date for public and private schools in the country.
“It is true that government has reviewed the position earlier taken on the resumption; government may have some reasons that are not available to us,” Suleiman said, adding: “But since the Minister of Health has initially justified the reason for the review, the legislature has decided to abide by that position.
“Now, a superior, more professionally position has been taken by those who are supposed to drive the project in the first place.
“The NMA advised that the review of the date will not be in the best interest of the country, healthwise.”
The lawmaker said as representatives of the people, the House decided to invite the executive through the minister and the NMA, “which we have done

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