FG confirms 74 cases, dismisses rumour on army medical outreach

From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja and Tony John, Port Harcourt

The Federal Government, yesterday, said the Monkeypox virus has spread to 11 states with 74 suspected cases as against seven states and 33 cases recorded on October 11.

     Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, stated this when he briefed State House Correspondents on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the State House Council Chamber, Abuja.

Adewole, who, three days ago, said there were only three confirmed cases, listed the 11 affected states as Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Ekiti, Enugu, Imo, Lagos, Nasarawa and Rivers.

“The Council received an update on the state of the public health of the nation. We informed the council about the latest development in respect of the Monkeypox virus outbreak. So far, as of today (yesterday), there are 74 suspected cases in 11 states of the country.

“We have confirmed three from Bayelsa and 12 of the suspected cases from Bayelsa tested negative; four suspected cases from Lagos tested negative. We are still expecting the results of the other ones.

“We are also doing test at the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), Ede, to really understand the genomics of this virus. Even when they are negative, the laboratory attendant should be able to tell us what exactly they are,” he said.

He, however, dismissed rumour that the virus was being spread by the military through vaccination.

“The military is not involved in any vaccination exercise. And I must also educate Nigerians about how vaccination campaigns are done. The Federal Government will take the lead but we do not conduct campaign without working with states. So, there is no way we will do campaign without working with the states,” he said.

But he disclosed that the ministry would soon start vaccination against measles while a nationwide vaccination against Yellow Fever would commence before the end of the year.

This is even it he said the Federal Ministry of Health was conducting vaccination in only three states- Borno, Kwara and Kogi.

While cholera vaccination was being conducted in Borno, Yellow Fever vaccination was ongoing in Kwara and Kogi.

Asked if the military medical outreach was in good fate, the minister replied: “With respect to what the military is doing, I spoke about vaccination and not about military campaign. The military, as part of a campaign of winning over the heart and soul of the people will get engaged in several things. In the past, the military was noted for even constructing roads, the military would do outreaches, measure blood pressure, talk to people. These are normal things; I referred only to vaccination. We had to request for the assistance of the military in Borno State to reach inaccessible area with respect to the polio campaign. So, we have worked with the military in the past and we will continue to work with them.

“There are doctors in the military, there are nurses and when you go abroad, some of the best institutions abroad are managed by the military. So, we cannot disown the military. But what I want to put across is that the military is not involved in any vaccination.”

He also red the red flag on the nefarious activities of illegal traffickers of kidney, who he tagged illegal organ harvesters.

“With respect to the harvest of organs, we received advice periodically from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, from the National Security Adviser about goings on around the world, one of which is the harvest of organs illegally; and it is our duty to alert Nigerians that this is ongoing. They should be careful, they should seek advice, they should patronise only accredited institution. And as we rebuild our health infrastructure, there will be less need for anybody to travel out.”

This, he said would spare Nigerians the agony of falling victims of some of the illegal practices.

The minister said government was alarmed about growing drug use among youths.

“We’re working with the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria to educate people about the abuses.  We’re aware of the abuse of cough mixture because of the content and we are working hard in respect to this.

“On tobacco issue, yes, we’re part of the campaign against tobacco, we’re implementing the framework convention in tobacco control. As of Monday, we were part of the ECOWAS meeting to look at how to raise taxes on tobacco. In that meeting we really worked to prevent snuggling on tobacco products. It is known that Nigeria has one of cheapest tobacco prices in the world and that will contribute to the abuse.  That convention and recommendations coming from there will really contribute to raising taxes on tobacco and also generating resources that will go into health.”

     Meanwhile, there have been accusations and counter accusations between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), following the immunisation scare that rocked Rivers State on Tuesday.

In a statement, yesterday, the Publicity Secretary of the APC, Chris Finebone, accused the PDP and the government of the state of being the mastermind of the rumour.

However, PDP through its Publicity Secretary, Samuel Nwanosike, dismissed the allegation as baseless, stating that it was wrong for any group to finger the government for the rumour.

Nwanosike accused the APC of initiating the rumour to unsettle the state, adding that the party only peddles lies instead of providing viable opposition in the state.


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