Panic is gradually breaking loose in the health sector as the number of patients reported to be receiving treatment for the communicable Monkey Pox which broke out in Yenagoa, The Bayelsa State capital has increased from 11 to 13.
The 13 patients, including a medical doctor and a 17-year-old boy suspected to be infected with the virus currently isolated at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH), are responding to treatment and are at various stages of recovery.
Bayelsa State commissioner for Health, Prof. Ebitimitula Etebu, who addressed a news conference yesterday alongside his Information counterpart, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, however said there is no cause for alarm as the state has taken steps to curtail further spread.
Etebu had on Thursday put the figure of affected patients at 11.
The commissioner said that more than 50 others, who had contact with the quarantined patients, had been traced and placed under surveillance.
He added that two of the infected patients earlier isolated, had been treated and discharged.
NAN recalls that the first index case was reported two weeks ago at Agbura, a rural settlement near Yenagoa.
Etebu said the victim had killed and eaten a monkey with members of his household and neighbours who later showed symtoms of the monkeypox virus.
He, however, said that results of the blood samples dispatched to the World Health Organisation reference laboratory in Dakar for confirmatory tests were still being awaited.
He said that it was only the results that would confirm the identity of the virus.
“We have taken the usual steps in medical parlance in accordance with international best practices and the tests take some time because they have to culture the virus and allow it to grow sufficiently for it to be identified.
“That is the process we are taking and once the results are out, the public will be notified about it”, he said.
On his part, Iworiso – Markson said the state government was doing its best to arrest the situation as it has responded promptly to the health emergency.
He said that the government had since inaugurated a Quick Response Team which is working round the clock to contain the outbreak.
He urged residents of the state to be calm and report any suspected case of rashes similar to chickenpox to the disease surveillance teams on toll free numbers 08066987752 and 08035474676.
Speaking earlier, chief medical director of NDUTH, Prof Dimie Ogoina, said that the state was receiving support from the World Health Organisation and the Centre for Disease Control.
He disclosed that the hospital, in collaboration with the state ministry of Health, had created `mam-temporary’ isolation wards to quarantine suspected cases and assured the public that the facility has room to accommodate more patients.(By NAN)