Expert urges FG to increase case definition for Ebola

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an Infectious Diseases Physician, Dr Iorhen Akase, has urged the Federal Government to update and publicise the case definition of Ebola Virus Disease to aid early identification of cases in Nigeria.

Akase, who is also the Head of Infectious Diseases Unit, Department of Medicine, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos, made the plea in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria.

He said, “Now, we know that if someone has fever, cough, shortness of breath, we say this person has COVID-19, but Ebola doesn’t present like that.

“We need to update our case definition that if someone comes from these countries, and exhibits these symptoms, suspect him; and that information should be circulated widely.’’

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The expert urged the Federal Government to also fine-tune its processes of case management, treatment and other resources.

“The way we handle COVID-19 is not the same way to handle Ebola, separate arrangements would have to be made.

“For example, if someone comes into the country and is suspected to have Ebola, you can’t keep such person in the same isolation centre with those with COVID-19. You will aggravate the situation, because they will infect each other.

“Knowing where to keep him, who to take care of him, making the necessary arrangements because the personal protective equipment (PPEs) used for Ebola are different from what’s used for COVID-19,’’ Akase said.

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According to him, the timing for the resurgence of EVD in Africa is not good, saying that resources were stretched and Nigeria could not afford to deal with another epidemic now.

“However, we look at the positive sides that we have well trained workforce that are not afraid to treat Ebola patient, if the need arises.

“The governments have put in place epidemiological and public health structures in terms of ports health services, screening and surveillance of travellers, treatment centres across the country and laboratories that can quicken the diagnostic process. We can say that this is tiring, but we cannot afford not to do something, because if we have Ebola enter into community, transmission like we have COVID-19, the effect will be more catastrophic,’’ he said.

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The World Health Organisation had announced an outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea on February 7 and 14, respectively.

Guinea had so far recorded up to 10 suspected cases of Ebola and five deaths since declaring the outbreak on February 14.

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