The Rivers State Government had consistently maintained that there was no Ebola case in the state until last week Thursday, August 28, 2014 when the Commissioner for Health, Dr Sampson Parker announced with a heavy heart the first casualty of the dreaded virus. According to him, Doctor Iyke Sam Enemuo who died from Ebola virus treated a diplomat, a staff of Economic Community of West Africa, ECOWAS, who escaped from a quarantine centre in Lagos to Port Harcourt.
Surprisingly youths who spoke to newsmen at some local restaurants code named Long bench in Port Harcourt said the whole issue of Ebola was riddled with politics. “How do you convince me that a state that said there was no Ebola case a day before suddenly woke up the next day to say they had 100 persons on its watch list. I am confused. It is all politics. I am not saying it is not there but the various governments are playing politics with it. How do you say people are on watchlist yet they walk freely on our streets,” this source queried.
Before the outbreak of Ebola in the state, youths of Emohua local government had protested against the siting of the Ebola quarantine centre in Oduoha community in the local government. They feared that the disease was airborne. It took effort of the state Commissioner of Health, Dr. Parker to calm them. Some had also said the local government already housed disease control hospital so it would be unfair to site Ebola quarantine centre in the area.
Meantime, Governor Amaechi has assured that the state was capable to contain spread of the virus, adding that it would work with the federal government and other foreign based organisations to manage the situation.
“I don’t want anybody infected to feel shy and possibly take it to the rural areas because it could affect your children, family and relations and may result to death. That will be too disastrous. When you have high fever that you can’t account for, please, don’t go to any Primary health centre, come to the corridors of government and our doctors will pick you and give you adequate treatment. It is not a case all doctors can handle. Our doctors will take care of your medical treatment, feed you, so you can survive. You can see that a lot of patients infected by the Ebola virus have been successfully discharged in Lagos State. That is because of the quick response by those who reported and received adequate medical car. There is no need to panic because the Ebola virus is not air borne.”, he said.
The fear of Ebola has suddenly gripped all residents of the state. All you hear in Port Harcourt is “God save us from Ebola”.