Most public and private nursery, primary and secondary schools were forced to abruptly shut down around midday as panic-stricken parents invaded the schools in Anambra and Enugu States to forcefully take their wards away following rumors that the medical outreach being conducted by the Nigeria Army is meant to inject school children with monkeypox in order to reduce South East population.
The panic was triggered by rumours coming from neighbouring Anambra state that some school children that were given vaccination died in the process of a medical outreach being carried out in the state by the 82 Division of Nigerian army, with headquarters at Enugu.
When New Telegraph Correspondent visited some schools in Enugu parents and students were seen in panic mode, running helter-skelter.
In some of the schools in the South East, authorities tried to douse their fears and prevent them from leaving the school by locking the school gate but the students pushed hard and overwhelmed them and stampede ensued as they run out and headed home.
The schools visited include; Urban Girls Secondary School, Enugu; WTC Primary School Enugu; City Girls Secondary School Enugu and Ekulu Primary School Enugu.
But when contacted, the army spokesman of 82 Division Nigerian Army, Enugu, Col. Sagir Musa said that there was no medical outreach in Enugu by the military, but rather that the medical outreach was in Anambra state, even as he noted that no untoward incident was recorded.
On their part, the Enugu State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Fintan Ekochin, and his Information counterpart, Ogbuagu Anikwe dismissed the rumour of any vaccination either for monkeypox or any other decease by the military or any other organization in the state presently.
They appealed to parents to return their wards to school as there was no cause for alarm.
The Commissioner for Health, Ekechin, however, confirmed a suspected case of monkey virus but said it was being investigated and handled in line with best international practices.
It will be recalled that there have been messages by unknown authors being circulated in the social media, especially in Whasapp stating as follows: “Pls call all your family, tell them not to participate in any free medical care by Nigeria Govt, they want to reduce S/East population, they did it in Bayelsa that was the result of the monkeypox that is killing children right now, it a virus. Send it to people you know that live in S/East, you might save life’s.”
But Ekochin and Ogbuagu dismissed such as fake and urged the people of the state to go about their normal business while adhering to known hygiene procedures like hand washing, use of hand sanitize where there is no soap and water to wash hand, not sleeping in unventilated places and making sure that food they consume are well preserved.
Ekochin said, “If I’m asked that there was epidemic or outbreak of monkeypox decease in Enugu the answer is not at all. If I’m asked about any suspected case, the answer is yes, we have a suspected case being handled as international best practices require.
“There is absolutely nothing to worry about, and if there should be, be rest assured that we will do our best to get everybody in the know.
There is a decease called Money pox, there is one established confirmed case in Bayelsa state. There is no other established confirmed case any other place in Nigeria as we speak.
On his part Ogbuagu said, “There is no such military medical outreach programme going on in Enugu as we speak. Even in the case of Anambra that you talked about, it is restricted to one local government, which is Ekwusigho and one town called Ozubulu. As you rightly observed that programme has been stopped because there is a lot of misconception following it.”