By Donald Ojebo
Not less than 15 persons have died under mysterious conditions in Ute Okpu and Idumesa, two communities in Ika North East, the local government area of the governor of Delta state, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa.
In a statement made available to journalists by the public relations officer of the state ministry of health, Donald Ojebo, the death was said to have occurred within the last two weeks in the two communities.
A team of health officials, led by the state commissioner for health, Mordi Ononye, has already been dispatched to the communities to ascertain the immediate and remote causes of the death and find immediate solution to the yet to be identified disease.
According to the statement, the 15 lives already claimed are within the age bracket of 13 to 25 years. This is seriously baffling to the residents, the governor and the people of the state.
Part of the statement reads: “Delta state government has received information on seemingly mysterious deaths in Ute Okpu and Idumesa communities of Ika North East local government area of the state which prompted Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to direct the state mnistry of health to immediately investigate these deaths, identify the cause/causes and effect containment measures”.
Dr. Ononye, while informing HRM, 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 by properly covering their food, cutting grasses around their surroundings, eliminate rats in their houses and continue to observe the COVID-19 safety guide lines especially hand washing with soap and running water.
On his part, Dr. Richard Ikwuogu, the State Epidemiologist said that his office sent officers to the community immediately the information reached the Ministry of Health, stating that the active case search that commenced the previous day continues.
He added that his team has visited the families of the affected persons in the community and also the case in the hospital in Umunede, collected their samples and interviewed them.
Dr. Ikwogu said that though a suspicion of viral hemorrhagic fever, or substance abuse, the outcome of the test on collected samples will give clear information on the disease and that will determine the next line of action .
HRM 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 his domain to be upgraded.
He expressed relief that government’s intervention through the visit has brought hope to them and assurance that the disease will be curbed.
He assured the Commissioner and his team of the co-operation from him and his subjects and encouraged them to feel free and let him know of any challenge they may come across when interacting with residents of the community.