The Federal Government has described as fake and sinister the report that the outbreak of monkey pox in some parts of the country resulted from the alleged free medical care organised by the government for people of the affected areas.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said Nigerians should disregard the report which, he alleged, was apparently being spread by those he described as unscrupulous persons.
He said, ‘’The Federal Government has not conducted any free medical service or care in either Bayelsa or Rivers state, as alleged in the fake report being circulated. So that could not have been the cause of the outbreak of monkeypox in both states.
“Monkeypox is a virus found only in monkeys and it is rare in human beings. It belongs to the same family as chicken pox and small pox.
‘’It is suspected that someone may have contacted it by eating monkey meat, thus triggering the current outbreak.”
He assured that no effort will be spared in curtailing the spread of the disease.
Also, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, in an interview with The PUNCH in Jos, the Plateau State capital, denied rumours that the disease had spread to other parts of the country.
According to him, although the government picked some suspected cases in Rivers State, the one in Bayelsa State had not been confirmed because the results of the sample sent to the laboratory in Senegal had not been released.
Adewole said the government had commenced the development of a programme to increase public awareness about monkeypox.
Adewole said, “There is no spread; we picked some suspected cases in Rivers State; even the one in Bayelsa State has not been confirmed, we are waiting for the results. It is tentative and there is no point spreading false rumour. In fact, there is a fake message circulating that it is because we are doing free medical screening that is why the disease came out.
“I am not aware of any free medical screening in Bayelsa, Rivers or even the South-East. No, and I wonder the motive. I don’t even know the persons behind it. They just said, ‘beware of free medical screening oo. It is to reduce population in the South-East; that is what has caused problem in Bayelsa and Rivers states.’ I got that text message.”
Asked if he suspected politics in the rumour and falsehood, the Minister said he believed in facts.
Adewole said, “You see, as the Health Minister, I am a technocrat, I believe more in dealing with facts than politics. Rather than call it politics, I will call it a dirty game by anybody trying to really prevent our people from benefiting from any health programme that will advance their health and well-being. The Minister of Information is working on alerting security agencies about that falsehood.
“The update on monkeypox is that we are actually developing a programme to increase public awareness. We are advising people to avoid eating bushmeat and dead animals. They should stay away from monkeys and maintain high level of personal hygiene. We will get over it because the disease will burn itself out once we quarantine those who have it, look after them and prevent its spread.”
Meanwhile, the Bayelsa State Government and its Cross River counterpart have said they have intensified efforts, especially in the area of public enlightenment and civic engagement, to curb the spread of the monkeypox viral disease in the state.