The Lagos State Government has begun an intensive search for 27 secondary contacts, who might have come close enough to doctors, nurses and health workers, who attended to the late Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer, at a Lagos private hospital.
Sawyer, who was infected with the deadly Ebola virus in his native Liberia, died in the Obalende, Lagos-based hospital over one week ago, four weeks after he was admitted there.
Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, who spoke in Lagos on Wednesday, said government was also planning a life insurance cover for doctors and other health professionals, who volunteered to work with experts monitoring and testing suspected cases of the Ebola Virus Disease.
The commissioner, who addressed a press conference, said the government was presently facing a shortage of experts, doctors and health workers needed to attend to those that had been infected and those that were going to be isolated for monitoring.
He said, “We will provide a life insurance for any doctor, nurse and other experts that want to work with isolated patients. We need more hands, because we have moved from the stage of primary contacts to secondary contacts.
“We are tracing all the people that had contact, not just with (the late) Sawyer, but those that had contacts with the health workers and others that have died.
“We have identified 27 secondary contacts already, we tracing the addresses of others.
“It is a tedious task, because we will also be taking their blood samples for testing and we will be monitoring them.
“We are appealing to the doctors on strike to resume work and set aside their grievances. No doubt, this situation is a dire emergency and our health professionals must recognise that.
“It will be morally unjustifiable for us to call for help from the international community if our own experts and doctors are not working.
“The bottom line is that we cannot provide the requisite expertise needed to manage these confirmed and probable cases”.
Idris said government would also be evacuating tuberculosis patients at the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Yaba, Lagos, to another hospital to accommodate more suspected and isolated cases of Ebola Virus Disease.
The commissioner said, “The TB patients at Mainland Hospital were protesting this morning but we appealed to them, that if they stay there they might be exposed and get infected.
“If we need to evacuate any hospital to ensure that we contain this disease, we will do it. If we have to take suspected cases to LASUTH, we will do it. If we need to take decisions that will be inconvenient for some people but beneficial to the larger population, we will do it. Ebola is a highly infectious disease. We will do it to contain it”.