There was confusion in Enugu on Tuesday over fears of the outbreak of the monkeypox virus in the state.
Unconfirmed reports indicated that an unidentified woman reported at the Enugu State University of Technology Teaching Hospital, Parklane, with symptoms suspected to be monkeypox.
Another version of the rumour stated that the alleged case was recorded at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Ituku Ozalla, in Enugu.
The two accounts spread through Enugu metropolis, causing confusion, and panic among residents.
A picture showing a woman with symptoms of the dreaded disease was circulated on various social media platforms on Tuesday.
The woman in the picture was said to be the alleged ‘monkeypox patient’, who, according to some versions of the story, could not be treated and was therefore referred to an undisclosed hospital in Lagos.
Some residents of Enugu, who believed the unsubstantiated stories, expressed concern that the said patient was mingling freely with people within the city, spreading the disease.
However, our correspondent could not confirm the development even during a visit to the Enugu State University of Technology Teaching Hospital, Parklane.
Some officials and workers in the hospital, who did not want to be named, described the reports as ‘mere rumour’.
One of the workers informed our correspondent that she heard a different version of the incident, which stated that the alleged case of monkeypox was recorded at a different hospital.
Efforts to get the Commissioner for Health, Enugu State, Dr. Sinton Ekochin, to comment on the matter were not successful.
His mobile telephone line was switched off when our correspondent called him, and a text message sent to him had yet to be delivered as of 8pm production time on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Ogun State government has debunked a report credited to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control listing the state as one of those affected by the disease.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Babatunde Ipaye, on Tuesday expressed surprise at the report and blamed a health official in the state who, he claimed, had wrongly reported the case of the disease to the Federal Ministry of Health without proper examination.
He said the officer, who works in the state hospital, Ijebu Ode, had noticed skin lesion on a patient who was at the hospital for another primary reason, and misinterpreted it.
Ipaye said, “It was very surprising for us to hear that Ogun State was listed as one of the states affected by monkeypox.
“We have not incidented any confirmed case. We are not averse to reporting one, if there is a case, and we are not willing to cover up a case, but we must also not send people panicking for things that we do not have.
He added that the distribution of rashes in monkeypox tended to be more on the face and symbolically at the palm and the sole of the feet.
“This patient has neither of those and when we did a secondary screening, we discovered that there’s even a primary reason why the patient had the rash,” he added.
The Ekiti State Government on Tuesday also confirmed that two suspected cases of the virus were being investigated in the state.
The Secretary to the State Government, Dr Modupe Alade, stated that the suspected victims were discovered in Okemesi, Ekiti West Local Government – a border town with Osun State.
She said, “We have two cases at Okemesi Ekiti. Tests are still being carried out and, not until it is confirmed, we can’t come out with any official statement.
She added that the people had been quarantined while their blood samples had been taken to Abuja for laboratory tests.
The Plateau and Osun state governments have put its healthcare personnel on the red alert, watching out for the signs and symptoms of monkeypox.
The Plateau State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Kamshak Kudeng, said though the government could not completely compel people to stop eating monkeys – which a delicacy in the state – it had told residents to cook at certain temperatures that the virus might not survive.
He said, “There are some tribes on the Plateau that eat monkeys as delicacies, just like when we were talking about Lassa fever and we wanted to single out the Tiv people in Benue State as those who eat rats.
“So, we have people on the Plateau that consume monkeys as a source of meat. What we want to do now is to enlighten people. We cannot stop them from completely eating monkeys because even when you tell them that consuming it has a disadvantage, their responses have been funny. I have heard people say, ‘Mr. (Health) Commissioner, man must die of one thing or the other.”
The Osun State Commissioner of Health, Dr. Rafiu Isamotu, said the state government had opened three isolation centres to quarantine victims in case the disease eventually spread to the state.
He said, “We have sent signal to our surveillance officers all over the state because we heard that monkeypox is now in Ekiti State and other states.
“We have established isolation centres in three places where patients will be quarantined in case it spread to our state.”
The Punch News