No fewer than 30 persons have been placed on surveillance following the death of a medical doctor who was said to have contacted Lassa fever in Abia State. The Medical Director of FMC Umuahia, Dr Abali Chuku, made this known yesterday at a joint press conference with the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. John Ahukanna, during which they did not only confirm the ugly incident but promise that it would be contained. Dr Chizorom Ndukwu, a resident doctor who was barely a month in the employment of FMC, Umuahia, reportedly died at the weekend at the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Irrua, Edo State, where she was taken for treatment after she was diagnosed of Lassa fever. “The management of Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, regrets to announce the death of its staff. She died of Lassa fever,” Chuku confirmed, adding that the deceased was initially admitted at FMC in the course of her illness. He said the need to place dozens of persons on surveillance arose the fact that some members of staff of the medical facility “came in contact with her (the deceased) in the course of her management. However, the MD explained that not every person under surveillance has the same level of risk. “Every possible contact whether patient or person will be identified, defined and put on surveillance,” he added. Though every doubt about the cause of the death of the resident doctor has been cleared, the management of FMC Umuahia has not been able to trace the contact point where the deceased contracted the virus. The MD said an 11-month-old baby was brought from a private hospital on March 12 and died the following day after admission at FMC, adding that the death of the baby was being investigated. The baby was said to have been treated by the deceased doctor. He said the patient was referred by a pediatrician from a private hospital but the baby was not tested for Lassa virus before she died. But he noted that it was yet not possible to pinpoint if the baby was the source of the Lassa virus that killed Ndukwu as nobody has manifested any signs of the virus after 21 days incubation period which ended yesterday starting from the day the baby died. “We are not looking at one direction so that you don’t put people’s lives at risk,” he said, adding that medical doctors offer their services across various health facilities and not all hospitals fully observe the standard protocol on disease control hence “we may not get to know where the deceased doctor contracted the virus.”Ahukanna advised that everyone in Abia State should “take concrete steps” by maintaining high level of personal and environmental hygiene and also keep rats at bay to ensure that the outbreak of Lassa fever did “not go beyond what we already have.”

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