There is palpable tension in Cross River State over alleged cases of Lassa Fever in the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH).
DAILY POST gathered that relatives of patients have started relocating them from the hospital to other health facilities within and outside the state.
Already, two suspected cases of Lassa fever have been discovered in the hospital and it was learnt on Monday that the two patients admitted at the UCTH three days ago have shown the unusual symptoms of body weakness, cough, sore throat, diarrhoea, vomiting, muscle pains and nausea – which are associated with Lassa Fever.
A source that declined to give his name at the Hospital said the doctors have collected samples of the patients and reported the cases to the management who hurriedly took it to the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital at Ekpoma in Edo State, for analysis.
“As I am talking to you right now, some persons who have patients in the hospital, are panicking and afraid of what may become of their loved ones, following the reported cases of the Lassa fever”, the source said. He also narrated that fear has gripped some patients in the hospital and they are said to be making alternative arrangements for fear of being contaminated.
Speaking with newsmen in a telephone call, the Chief Medical Director of UCTH, Prof. Ikpeme Ikpeme, said, “A patient was admitted and to be sure of the type of ailment, we took the samples and have taken it to the laboratory for proper analysis.
“So we cannot confirm whether it is Lassa fever or not – until we get the results. So we are still expecting it,” he stated,
The management of the hospital, it was gathered was not treating the case with kid gloves as they have taken precautionary measures to protect the doctors and other health workers just as they have fumigated some departments.
When contacted on Monday night, the Commissioner for Health Cross River Dr. Betta Edu, said there is no case of Lassa fever in the state.
“There is no recorded case of Lassa fever. The sample we took out for analysis came back and it’s fake, it’s faulty, I said it today, even this morning I still said it.
“I don’t know why reporters are too eager to report. I don’t know, we don’t know what the problem is. What I know is that there is no case of Lassa fever in the state.”
She urged members of the public not to panic, as she advised that, “residents in the state should observe strict preventive measures to forestall Lassa fever outbreak in the state.
In various statements issued by the Cross River State government, it said, “The ministry has intensified emergency preparedness and response to the ongoing Lassa fever outbreak in the country.”
However, the State Primary Health Care Development Agency, through the Director-General, Dr. Janet Ekpenyong, has opened a hotline for the public to report anything related to Lassa fever. They can also get information as well. The phone number is: 0806443505