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Uneasy Calm In Delta Community Over Strange Deaths

After what locals described as a ‘strange disease’ killed about 50 persons in Ute-Okpu community, Ika North East Local Government Area, Delta State, Southsouth Nigeria, youth in the community are threatening to attack the traditional leaders for being the cause of the illness.

While the community is on the edge, Delta State Government has imposed a curfew to prevent a breakdown of law and order.

The curfew was to control the growing angst among the youth who were threatening to burn down the chief’s palace insisting that he was responsible for the ‘plague’ in the town.

It would be recalled that angry youth who attended the community meeting at the palace of the monarch where the development was discussed almost razed the palace citing the traditional ruler’s lack of respect for customs as the strange deaths.

The people who said the deaths which were mostly recorded in Ute-Alohen, Ute-Erumu, Ibiegwa and Idumuesa have been on the rise, claimed also that people are dying on a daily basis.

Already, the Delta State government, through Dr Ononye Mordi, Commissioner for Health had identified an outbreak of Yellow Fever disease as the factor responsible for the strange deaths.

The government which had announced that 22 deaths had been recorded in relation to the outbreak said efforts were being made to ensure that the deaths were contained and that the situation did not escalate.

Mordi said vomiting, mouth and nose bleeding, headache, feverish condition and body pains were observed among the patients.

The State Government commenced vaccination against Yellow Fever to check the outbreak of the disease as locals continue to check the spread of the disease and inoculate the populace from being infected.

In spite of the medical explanation for the strange death toll in the town and efforts by the government, the people were not convinced that it was not a spiritual problem.

The curfew which was approved by Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor of Delta State was said to have become necessary because of angry reactions by the youths of the affected community.

They also said they were not satisfied with what they deemed as the government’s inability to curtail the spread of the strange disease.

According to Victor Ebonka, chairman of Ika North Local Government Area, the curfew was imposed on November 23 from 6 pm in the evening to 6 am in the morning.

An indigene of Ute-Okpu simply identified as Onuwa, confirmed that vaccinations were being administered to the people and that the people were embracing it.

Onuwa, however, said in spite of the preventive measures, people were still dying almost on a daily basis, lamenting that the death toll had reached 45 against official figures.

“As I am speaking with you, people are dying, the number of deaths is increasing. Recently, we lost four persons in a day,” he said.

“Government has started vaccinations and our people are turning out to receive it but they said it will become effective after 10 days of administering it.”

“For us here, we are still living in fear, nobody is sure of himself or anybody, the deaths come in short notice,” Onuwa added.

He said the curfew was in force.

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