FG confirm suspected 33 cases of monkeypox in 7 states

A monkey pox patient.

THE federal government has confirmed that the existence of suspected monkeypox has now spread to seven states of the federation with a total of 33 cases identified so far.

Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, disclosed this while briefing State House Correspondents on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday.

He said there was no certainty yet that the cases are monkeypox as those identified do not meet the prototype of monkeypox.

But he added that efforts are on to get a definite confirmation in the next 24 to 48 hours.

The minister also assured that the cases identified appeared not to be the deadly strain of the disease as no death has yet been attributed to it in the affected areas.

He said that was part of the briefing the council received which also included progress on outbreaks of Lassa Fever, cholera and yellow fever around the country.

He said: “The other one which is less topical but less deadly is monkeypox and this actually started in Bayelsa and we have recorded 33 suspected cases in all, from the states, Bayelsa, Rivers, Ekiti, Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Ogun and Cross River and what is particularly significant is that many of the cases so reported do not fit into the classic prototype of monkeypox.

“But we are trying to confirm before the end of today or early tomorrow.

“We should be able to confirm exactly what we are dealing with if it is truly monkeypox.

“But what is obvious is that we have a disease that is close to the pox family.

“One of our scientist professor Christian Appeh is looking into it in the laboratory to confirm if it is truly monkeypox.

“We are also doing a double confirmation in Senegal because Senegal also have a public health lab that could make a diagnosis.

“We are looking at the two and hopefully in the next 24 or 48 hours, we should be able to make a diagnosis as to what we have.”

The minister counseled that Nigerians must be vigilant and be sure to maintain high standards of hygiene in order not to catch the disease.

His words: “Our advise to Nigerians will be not to panic, report all suspected cases to health facilities and to continue to maintain a high level of hygiene.

“Let’s wash our hands, let’s avoid contact with dead animals, clean our surroundings and as much as possible for health workers to maintain barrier nursing while managing people with suspected cases of monkeypox.

“There are two types of monkeypox. There is the Central African type and the West African type. We suspect that if confirmed, we probably have the West African type which is milder because so far we have not recorded any death from monkeypox.”

Adewole revealed that there are no confirmed cases of Lassa Fever in the country while cholera was declining in Borno state as no new death has been reported there.

However, he affirmed that there was an ongoing outbreak of yellow fever which started in Kwara.

He added: “So far, we have recorded four cases in Kwara, two in Kogi, two in Plateau one in Abia and one in Edo, making 10 cases in all.

“What we have decided to do is to start our reactive campaign in Kwara and Kogi starting from Friday 13th of this month.

“We have also decided to start a nationwide vaccination against yellow fever. We are going to bring that forward to December because of what is currently ongoing.

“We quite recognise the fact that we have a large number of Nigerians who are un-immune to yellow fever and so we want to do a nationwide vaccination against yellow fever.”

The minister said the council also considered a memo on industrial relations particularly in the public sector, with that of the health sector being the need to do comprehensive job evaluation.

He said the government has decided to set up a committee that would evaluate “what to do as individuals, how much should we be paid in a way that we can really pay appropriately across board through the entire country.”

He remarked that council looked at the issue of residency training programme and decided that the training should last for a fixed time of seven years.

He stated: “After training for 7 years individuals should exit from the programme so that other people can come into the programme.

“Council has also decided to look into the issue of private practice by medical doctors in the public sector and a committee has been set up to look extensively into that issue because we want to resolve the issue of what does the law of the land state and what the rule of professional ethics say.

“The law of the land does not allow any public officer to do anything other than farming.

“So, that committee would make appropriate recommendation to government on this important issues which is of considerable interest to quite a number of Nigerians.

“In addition to that, we will also look at the Yayale Ahmed report which tried to look into the relationship between professional groups in the health sector and the office of the SGF.

“We have been mandated to forward a white paper on the Yayale Ahmed report to the FEC so that once and for all government can restore harmony to the health sector.”