Thousands of Nigerians admitted into United Kingdom universities appear sure to face tough health screening as their campuses have been placed on the alert for the danger posed by the Ebola Virus Disease.
According to The Independent on Sunday, the alert by Universities UK, the umbrella body that represents vice-chancellors, was issued because the universities are expecting new students to arrive from West Africa.
While the three countries which have seen the largest number of Ebola cases – Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone – have hardly any students enrolling at UK universities, Nigeria – which has also had confirmed cases – is the fourth largest supplier of international students to UK universities.
In 2012-13, the latest year for which figures are available, a total of 9,630 were enrolled.
A spokesman for the body said, “The issue is very much on universities’ radars. We circulated to universities the publicly available guidance on the topic.”
The guidance makes it clear that any student suspected of having Ebola should immediately be isolated in a side room away from any member of staff or student contact.
“The side room should have dedicated en-suite facilities or at least a dedicated commode,” it says. “The level of staff protection is dependent on the patient’s condition,” the London-based newspaper newspaper said.
It added that “those having any dealings with the patient must take careful hand hygiene precautions, wearing double gloves and a disposable visor.
The guidance told university workers that, “evidence from outbreaks strongly indicates that the main routes of transmission of infection are direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membrane) and indirect contact with environments contaminated with splashes or droplets of blood or body fluids.”
It said that experts “agree that there is no circumstantial or epidemiological evidence of an aerosol transmission risk from patients.”
29 Ebola patients flee as gunmen invade isolation ward
Fears has however heightened that the EVD might spread further in the region after 29 patients fled when armed men attacked their isolation ward in Monrovia, Liberia on Friday.
The incident happened as a Nigerian was tested for the virus in Alicante, home to 82,000 Britons in Spain.
A witness was quoted by The Mailonline as saying that the Liberian gunmen smashed down the doors of the ward and looted medical supplies.
“They broke down the doors and looted the place. The patients all fled,” said Rebecca Wesseh, who witnessed the attack.
The Head of Health Workers Association of Liberian, George Williams, confirmed the incident.
Armed men attacked an Ebola isolation ward in Liberia’s capital city of Monrovia, as seen from the roof of an abandoned hotel on Friday. A total of 29 patients fled the ward in terror.
Nigerian tested in Spain, kept in isolation
The Mailonline also reported that the Nigerian was tested after going to San Juan Hospital in Alicante with the tell-tale signs of the EVD.
Officials of the hospital said the unnamed Nigerian, who is in his 30s, was being kept in isolation until the results of the tests were known.
The officials were said to have activated the Ebola protocol after he complained of the flu-like symptoms associated with the onset of the virus.
Paramedics wearing protective suits and masks transferred him from Alicante General Hospital to nearby San Juan.
His condition on Sunday was described as “stable.”
FG to meet hospital owners , orders arrest of fake hand sanitiser sellers
Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, has said he will meet with leaders of the Association of General Practitioners of Nigeria and the Guild of Medical Directors of Nigeria over reports that some private hospitals were refusing to treat patients suffering from malaria and fever.
There were media reports (The PUNCH not included) last week that such private hospitals were doing so because of fear of contracting the Ebola Virus Disease.
Chukwu, in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, however attributed the action by such hospitals to inadequate information on the nature and mode of spread of the EVD , which claimed its first victim in Nigeria, Patrick Sawyer, in a private hospital in Lagos.
The hospital lost its matron and a nurse who were among health workers that handled Sawyer’s case to the disease.
Another nurse, who was also involved in the treatment of the Liberian-American is currently being quarantined at the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Yaba, Lagos after she tested positive to the virus.
The doctor that attended to Sawyer on his arrival at the private health facility, also contracted the virus but she survived after 22 days in the IDH.
Chukwu said, “I am meeting with the leadership of the Association of General Practitioners of Nigeria and the Guild of Medical Directors of Nigeria, this week. The two bodies control private practitioners.
“Part of the reason we want to meet with them is due to reports that the private hospitals were turning back patients suffering from fever and malaria for fear of contracting EVD through them.”
He said with proper education, the country would be able to contain the spread of the disease.
The minister, therefore, urged the media to confirm from him, any rumoured case of Ebola anywhere in the country before publishing.
Chukwu said, “The media should help the ministry to reduce panic in the society over the issue of Ebola, what we need is continuous education of our people. For instance, we have clinical case definition, that is crosschecking cases through laboratory testing.
“That was why, when we went to Abia State, we used the laboratory test to convince everybody that the woman suspected to have Ebola did not have it.
“But because a section of the media did not confirm the true status of the woman from me or from the National Centre for Disease Control, they escalated panic in Abia by publishing that an Ebola case had been reported in the state. That is the only reason why the woman’s blood was taken for testing.”
On fake hand sanitisers and gloves allegedly being sold to the public, he said the ministry had directed the National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration and Control to begin investigation and bring all the culprits to book.
The minister said, “NAFDAC will continue to monitor but we strongly believe that the fake versions of hand sanitisers are being produced and sold by some people .
“NAFDAC will continue to do its job and we hope that very soon, those perpetrating the crime will be arrested and prosecuted.”
Chukwu also denied mentioning the name of the female doctor who treated the late Liberian – American. The doctor was discharged from the isolation ward on Saturday.
Chukwu, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Communication, Mr. Dan Nwomeh, on Sunday, said he did not refer to the doctor as Dr. Adedevor , as quoted in the media.
The statement read in part, “It has been brought to the attention of the minister that the first Nigerian to be diagnosed of EVD, is being reported in some section of the media to be one Dr. Adadevor.
“The minister wishes to clarify that the name of the patient is not Dr. Adadevo. This should be noted. The minister’s statement on Saturday while indicating that it was a female doctor did not indicate the name of the patient.”
Sahara Reporters later quoted Chukwu as having said in a statement that five EVD patients being treated at the IDH had almost fully recovered.
He was said to have also confirmed that Nano Silver, an experimental drug, had failed to meet the required standards and therefore would not be used on Ebola patients.