Lassa fever claims doctor’s life in Port-Harcourt


Panic and fear of the unknown on Thursday gripped doctors, nurses, medical personnel and patients of the Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital, old GRA, Port Harcourt over the death of a doctor in the Emergency Unit of the hospital suspected to have contacted the dreaded Lassa Fever disease virus.

The practitioners are mostly scared because they are by routine of duty, the first to come in contact with patients on emergency in hospital and may have all contacted the highly contagious viral disease.

Dr Furo Green, chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association, Rivers state branch confirmed the death of doctor identified as Dr Levi Njamala.

He was said to have contacted the contagious Lassa fever from a female patient he conducted Cesarean Section on at the emergency unit of the hospital.

Dr Green has warned those who are still in doubts that the deadly Lassa fever epidemic is in Rivers state. “Doctors, patients and their family have 80 percent risk factor,” he informed.

Dr Levi Njamala from the department of Obstetrics and Gynecologist who took ill after the CS, did not suspect he had contacted the deadly virus and called in fellow doctors who tested him positive for the Lassa fever.

The hospital authority decided to take samples for further analysis to a Specialist Hospital for the treatment of Lassa fever virus in Irrua, Edo state. But they could ascertain the cause of the sickness, the doctor had dropped dead.

Sequel to this development, patients and medical personnel of the hospital were hurriedly being discharged under the supervision of officials of the World Health Organization, Rivers State Ministry of Health and Federal Ministry of Health as at the time of filing this report.

Efforts were also being made to quarantine those who already had contact with Dr Levi Njamala.

The apex Rivers State owned hospital was also undergoing decontamination by the WHO officials at the time of this report.

Ironic twist of the situation in the hospital is that Doctors at the hospital on Thursday started a three-day warning strike to press home their demands for the unconditional release of their two abducted colleagues after the 48 hours ultimatum issued expired today.

The two abducted doctors are; Dr Mrs I. B. Akprokor and Dr Isaac Opurum were kidnapped within two days. Aprokor was abducted on Sunday on her way to church, while Opurum was abducted on Tuesday after unknown gunmen broke into his residence in Port Harcourt.

Meanwhile, medical services have been temporarily suspended at BMSH due to the Lassa fever virus scare.

A recent report also revealed that the federal government has commenced the tracing of the whereabouts of about 35 persons that were believed to have come in contact with a late patient that died as a result of Lassa fever.

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