Dr Ononye stated that the visit was with the view to unravel the mysterious disease that has claimed the lives of over 15 persons within 18 to 25 years age bracket in the past two weeks. He said the State Government had received information on seemingly mysterious deaths in Ute-Okpu and Idumuesah communities which prompted the state Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, to direct the State Ministry of Health to immediately investigate deaths, identify the cause or causes and effect containment measures.
Dr. Ononye, while informing the Obi of Ute-Okpu, of the Governor’s directive to upgrade the Comprehensive Health Center in Ute-Okpu to a full fledged Hospital, called on members of the community and residents of the State to observe good hygiene as the dry season approaches.
He stated the need for proper covering consumables, cutting of grasses around surroundings, eliminate rats in houses and continue to observe the COVID-19 safety guide lines especially hand washing with soap and running water.
On his part, the State Epidemiologist, Dr. Richard Ikwuogu, said health officers were dispatched to the community immediately the information reached the Ministry of Health, disclosing that active case search has since commenced.
He added that his team has visited the families of the affected persons in the community and the case in the hospital in Umunede, where samples were collected. Dr Ikwuogu said though a suspicion of viral hemorrhagic fever, or even drug intoxication, the outcome of the test on collected samples will give clear information on the disease and that will determine the next line of action .
Obi Solomon Chukwuka I, Obi of Ute Okpu while welcoming the Health Commissioner and his team to his palace, thanked Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for giving the directive for the health center in the domain to be upgraded.
He expressed relief that government’s intervention through the visit has brought hope to the people and assurance that the disease will be curbed. The Monarch assured the Commissioner and his team of the co-operation and encouraged them to let him know of any challenge they may come across when interacting with residents of the community.
The Health Commissioner was accompanied by top officials in the ministry as well as two representatives of the World Health Organization, WHO, among others.