Students, parents and staff of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife were thrown into a state of confusion on Tuesday over a report that a patient on admission at the OAU Health Centre was a suspected Ebola Virus Disease victim.
Though the management of the school initially denied the development but the Oyo State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Temitope Ilori, said the sick student had confessed having contact with the late Port Harcourt doctor, Iyke Enemuo, who died of the EVD after he secretly treated an infected ECOWAS diplomat, Olu-Ibukun Koye, in a hotel in the Rivers State capital.
The commissioner said the female student had been put in the isolation ward.
“I was told that a student of the OAU who had contact with the doctor who died of the Ebola virus in Port Harcourt walked into the health centre when she was sick.
“She was said to have told doctors at the health centre that she had contact with the Port Harcourt doctor and was put under surveillance but she said she tested negative that time.
“Now she returned to the OAU to continue with her studies and was sick. She was said to have walked to the health centre and told them everything about her contact with the doctor.
“Her blood sample has been taken for another test in Lagos and we are awaiting the result. We pray she is not positive but she has been isolated at the health centre,” Ilori said.
Health officials of the premier university spent the better part of Tuesday disinfecting the surroundings of the medical centre and more attention was paid to places where patients sit before being attended to.
A source told our correspondent that top officials of the hospital held an emergency meeting after testing the suspected patient, who was said to have been on admission in the hospital since Monday.
Before the confirmation by the commissioner, the Public Relations Officer of the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex, Ile Ife, Olu Bello, had denied the report that a suspected Ebola virus patient had been admitted to the hospital.
Bello said he also heard that a student of the OAU, who returned from Port Harcourt, was down with the virus but he said the hospital did not have any case of Ebola.
“There is no case of Ebola at the OAUTHC. Nothing like that; I also heard something like that but such rumour has been causing unnecessary tension among the people but it is not true.”
To ensure calmness in the institution, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Bamitale Omole, urged students to desist from spreading rumours about EVD.
He spoke during the 52nd matriculation ceremony for 5,608 newly-admitted students of OAU on Tuesday.
He said, “A current issue of concern to us as an institution, which is also related to the judicious use of the facilities in the halls of residence, is maintaining a high standard of personal hygiene to halt the spread of EVD.
“The virus, which is not airborne, spreads through bodily fluids such as blood, sweat, urine, saliva and vomit. We should all co-operate to halt the spread of this disease by arming ourselves with adequate information about the disease and avoid spreading false rumours that certainly can cause fear and panic.
“A committee of experts had been set up in the university and it will step up its sensitisation and enlightenment campaign about the symptoms, modes of transmission and preventive measures of the disease.”