Confusion, fear and anxiety have shut down normal activities of Ette people in Olamaboro Local Government Area of Kogi State, as death toll caused by the strange disease has risen to over 60 in the community, including other adjoining communities in Enugu State.
The strange disease, it was learnt, has become another killing virus that only lasts for seven days before maiming its victim after exhibiting various symptoms like headache, difficulty in passing stool, reddish eye, then difficulty in breathing. Meanwhile, the Kogi State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Saka Haruna Audu, in his statement, said the disease was yellow fever and government is already at the top of the situation to curtail the spread He said the ministry had a well-established pattern of internal information communication as far as disease outbreak is concerned.
The statement reads: “We have focal persons (informants) in strategic locations across the State who pass the information on Diseases of public Health interest to the Disease Surveillance and Notification Officer (DSNO) at the Local Government level. “The DSNO LG then transfers this report through the DSNO (SMOH) to the State Epidemiologist who in turn brings such cases to my attention. “By implication, we are kept abreast at all times of happenings in every part of the state.
It is, therefore, unlikely that an incident, the magnitude as reported will pass unnoticed. “However, with the recent press release from Enugu State Commissioner for Health, confirming an outbreak of Yellow Fever in the state, we sent a Rapid Response Team from Kogi State Ministry of Health (accompanied by WHO) to Ette communities that share borders with Enugu State, without waiting for the usual channel of communication as a proactive measure.
“This team was to clarify and investigate the situation on the ground.” The commissioner stressed further that in 2017, there was outbreak in Okoloke axis of Yabga Local Government Area, where the people in the region and adjoining communities in Kogi and Kwara states were vaccinated. Contrary to the commissioner’s claim, the youth leader of Ette community, Mr. Eko Godsday Ochefu, told Saturday Telegraph that he has personally taken note of 17 people exhibiting the symptom to the Hospital.
He said: “People are saying 50, they are more than 60, and it is still counting. Yes it is true that some people died in the Enugu and Otukpa community. “Maybe it is caused by yellow fever as claimed by the commissioner, but that of Ette is not yellow fever because of the way and manner the people are dying of this disease.” Some of the victims are Ameh Able Sule, Sunday Sani, innocent Agbo, (still in the mortuary), Sunday Adoyi, Onuche Sunday, Onoja Edwin, Obute Emmanuel, Ododo Raphael, Ali Ameh, Onuche, Samuel and John Ekele, who died Thursday morning. He advised the state government to find solutions to the calamity and stop playing politics with people’s lives.
According to him, the Ette community is currently living in fear as some of the people are already running far away from their home to other communities. He added: “Some of our youths who had run away from Ette to Abuja and Lokoja, are dying of the same disease and their dead bodies are brought back to Ette for burial.”
The Youth Leader narrated that a native of Ette, who was a Police officer came from Lagos to visit his sick father, who is suffering from the ailment, also died of the disease after his return back to Lagos. Some of the villages hit by the disease, includes; Unyiette, Ogado, Adokpe and illeje. Confirming the youth leader’s claim, the lawmaker representing Olamaboro constituency in the Kogi State House of Assembly, Ujah Anthony Alewo, said in a motion of urgent public importance presented at the floor of the house on Tuesday, that it was a sad development. He said the situation was quite disturbing, given the fact that the residents of Ette community were thrown into confusion by the outbreak of an epidemic alien to them.