At least 57 persons are feared dead in Ette and Umuopu communities in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State following the outbreak of a strange disease in the affected communities.

According to the Disease Surveillance and Notification Officer in the council area, Mr. Vincent Oshomi, the cause of the strange deaths is yet unknown.

Mr. Oshomi however said that the Enugu State Ministry of Health had been alerted and specimen of the affected persons in the communities collected for proper diagnosis and treatment.

According to Mr. Oshomi, the disease broke out in Ette at the beginning of September 2020, and spread to the border community of Umuopu, where 20 persons reportedly died.

He further explained that the victims presented symptoms such as convulsion, diarrhoea before vomiting blood, adding that they were suspecting Lassa fever or cholera.

While reacting to the development, the Chairman of Igboeze North Local Government Area, Mr. Ejike Itodo, who said he was on top of the situation, said he would convene a meeting of stakeholders to begin thorough enlightenment about the strange disease.

While assuring the affected communities that the situation would be put under control, Mr. Itodo said that the state Ministry of Health and other health workers in the council area were working assiduously to ensure that more casualties would not be recorded.

According to the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the local government area, Comrade Mabel Ogili, a 30-year-old student of the University of Nigeria Nsukka, Mr. Chinedu Oyiga, 40-year-old Emeka Elugwu Onu, and 47-year-old Simon Eze were among the 20 casualties at Umuopu community.

Meanwhile Enugu State Ministry of Health said it has collected samples from patients and sent to the National Reference Laboratory for investigation.

A statement by the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Ikechukwu Obi, indicates that the State Rapid Response Team of the Ministry has visited Igbo-Eze North LGA and met with the Local Government Area Rapid Response Team.

According to the statement, “on-the-spot-check and outbreak investigation have revealed a number of deaths from an illness with symptoms suggestive of a disease of Public Health Importance.”

The statement pointed out that the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had been informed “and is collaborating with the Enugu State Ministry of Health at the Local Government Area to investigate and control the reports.”

The statement therefore assured the general public that the Ministry was on top of the situation and would continue to inform them as facts emerged.