The number of patients reported to be receiving treatment for the communicable monkeypox which broke out in Yenagoa, Bayelsa capital has risen from 11 to 13, as the state government says there is no cause for alarm.

The 13 patients including a medical doctor and a 17-year-old boy suspected to be infected with the monkeypox virus isolated at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH) Okolobiri in Bayelsa are responding to treatment and are at various stages of recovery.

Professor Ebitimitula Etebu, Bayelsa Commissioner for Health, who addressed a press conference on Friday along with his information counterpart, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, who said that there was no cause for alarm as the state had taken steps to curtail further spread.

Mr. Etebu had on Thursday put the figure at 11.

He said that more than 50 others who had contact with the quarantined patients have been traced and placed under surveillance.

He said that two of the infected patients earlier isolated have been treated and discharged.

It will be recalled that the first index case was reported two weeks ago at Agbura, a rural settlement near Yenagoa.

Mr. Etebu said the victim had killed and eaten a monkey with members of his household and neighbors who later presented symptoms of the monkeypox virus.

He, however, said that results of the blood samples dispatched to the World Health Organization Reference Laboratory in Dakar for
confirmatory tests were still being awaited adding that it was only the results that would confirm the identity of the virus.

"We have taken the usual steps in medical parlance in accordance with international best practices, and the tests take some time because they have to culture the virus and allow it to grow sufficiently for it to be identified."

"That is the process we are taking and once the results are out, the public will be notified about it," he said.

Also speaking at the news conference, Iworiso - Markson said that there was a need to inform members of the public that the state government was doing its best as it responded promptly to the health emergency.

He said that the government had since inaugurated a Quick Response Team currently working round the clock to contain the outbreak.

He urged the residents to be calm and report any suspected case with rashes similar to chickenpox to the disease surveillance teams on the following toll-free numbers 08066987752, 08035474676.

Speaking earlier, Chief Medical Director of NDUTH, Professor Dimie Ogoina said that the state was receiving support from the Internation Public Community including the World Health Organisation and the Centre for Disease Control.

He said that the hospital in collaboration with the State Ministry of Health has created temporary isolation wards to quarantine suspected cases and assured that the facility had room to accommodate more patients.

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