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No vaccine yet for monkey pox, says disease centre

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Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu


• Schools remain shut in Enugu
• Anambra gives clean bill of health
• A’Ibom observes preventive measures

The National Centre For Disease control (NCDC) says there is no specific vaccine for the monkey pox virus.Its National Coordinator, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, who dropped the hint yesterday in Abuja, noted that the agency had not embarked on any vaccine programme nationwide. He added that there was no diagnostic laboratory in the country to ascertain the exact name of the dreaded disease in the country.

He said: The centre was not carrying out vaccination against monkey pox in any part of the country, neither was the centre having any partnership arrangement to vaccinate people against the virus because there was no existing vaccine for the disease.

He spoke at an interactive session with the Senate Committee on Primary Health Care and Communicable Diseases to brief them on the current outbreak of the virus in some states of the federation.

The committee chairman, Mao Ohuabunwa, described the lack of diagnostic centre for the detection of the current outbreak as a national embarrassment.But Ihekweazu told the lawmakers that it was only the Redeemers University that has the facilities to diagnose such, pointing out that the centre had sent specimen to Senegal, for diagnostic tests.

However, schools have remained shut in Enugu, the assurance from the government that the army medical mission was not being observed in the state notwithstanding. A tour of institutions yesterday by The Guardian revealed that most of them were either scanty or under lock and key.Tension, panic and confusion had greeted the state on Wednesday as news filtered in from Anambra State that soldiers were allegedly visiting schools and forcing monkey pox vaccines to be injected on pupils leading to parents storming the schools to withdraw their children.

Although the Nigerian Army denied that its men forced anybody to be injected and that its medical mission which was going on in Ozubulu as part of the Operation Python Dance II exercise was not harmful. It further stressed that the activity was not being done in any school anywhere in the zone.

However, yesterday, several schools visited recorded low turnout of students and their teachers.While some teachers in public schools did not show up at all, some classes were seen to be under lock and key.

Besides, the Anambra government assured its citizens that the disease had not been discovered anywhere in the state.The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Joe Akabuike, who briefed newsmen yesterday in Awka, said government had put some proactive measures in place to forestall an outbreak.

Also yesterday, the Akwa State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Dominic Ukpong, said the Infectious Disease Emergency Rapid Response Team to monitor health facilities across the state has been reactivated.

According to him, the “Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in Ikot Ekpene-Infectious Disease Hospital has been reactivated to take care of any suspected case.”He revealed that the state government had trained about 25 doctors and 75 nurses to respond to any emergency situation in the state.


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Chikwe IhekweazuNCDC

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