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States Panic As Lassa Fever Death Toll Hits 24
Date Posted: 24/Jan/2020
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has said the number of deaths associated with Lassa fever in January 2020 has risen to 24, with 163 reported cases confirmed.
 
In the situation report, which is based on data retrieved from the National Lassa fever Technical Working Group, published by the NCDC for the third week of January 2020, the number of new confirmed cases rose from 64 cases in week one, 2020 to 81 in the third week of the month. The report said the cases were reported from Ondo, Edo, Delta, Taraba, Plateau and Bauchi states.
 
NCDC said, “The overall case fatality rate for 2020 is 14.7 per cent, which is lower than the fatality rate for the same period during 2019 (23.4 per cent). In total for 2020, nine states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 32 local government areas.”
Lassa Fever
It added that out of the confirmed cases, 89 per cent were reported from Edo, which had 38 per cent; Ondo, also with 38 per cent; and Ebonyi with 11 per cent. The centre added that the predominant age group affected by the disease was 11-40 years.
 
The report said 42 new confirmed cases were reported from Ondo State while 33 were reported from Edo State. It added that one new case was recorded in Taraba and Plateau states, with two cases recorded in each of Bauchi and Delta states. Fifty seven cases are undergoing treatment in various treatment centres across the country.
 
From the report, NCDC said the number of suspected cases had increased but lower than the number of cases reported in 2019. It said there was no record of any health-care worker infected during the third week.
 
The latest NCDC report has come one year after the Centre declared Lassa fever a public health emergency. Nigerians have continued to die of the hemorrhagic fever.
 
Recall that between January 1 and April 28, 2019, 554 laboratory-confirmed cases of Lassa fever were reported, with 124 deaths in 21 states of the Federation. Before then, Lassa fever cases had increased in Nigeria since 2016, with the highest number of 633 cases reported in 2018.
 
In a statement, co-signed by the Director General, NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu; and the Officer-in-Charge, World Health Organisation, Nigeria, Clement Peter, the NCDC declared a public health emergency on January 22, 2019. One year after this declaration, however, Nigerians have continued to die of the hemorrhagic fever.
 
Govs express readiness to fight Lassa, coronavirus
 
In response to the development, the governors of 36 states met on Wednesday night in Abuja and expressed their readiness to curb the spread of Lassa fever and prevent coronavirus in the county. The meeting, held under the umbrella of the Nigeria Governors Forum, was presided over by the NGF Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi.
 
Briefing journalists after the meeting, the governors said they would work with the Federal Ministry of Health and National Centre for Disease Control to bring the situation under control. Fayemi said, “This is the period we have an upsurge. All our states are taking precautionary measures to address this in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Health and National Centre for Disease Controls.
 
“We are working to ensure this does not spread any further that it has at the moment.”
 
Reading a communiqué after the meeting, Fayemi said the governors agreed to carry out immediate actions on the implementation of the Seattle Declaration, including the constitution of a multi-sectoral Primary Health Care Under One Roof implementation committee, quarterly review of PHC performance at State Executive Council meetings, review of states’ performance on the Abuja commitment and organisation of advocacy meetings with traditional and religious leaders.
 
Ekiti places health officers on the alert, begins vaccination
 
In Ekiti State, the Commissioner for Health, Dr Mojisola Yaya-Kolade, said on Thursday the state government had established a special centre for the treatment of suspected victims of Lassa fever.
 
Yaya-Kolade said the state Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, had ordered that proactive action be taken in the state in view of rising cases in Ondo State.
 
The commissioner, who spoke in Ado Ekiti during the flag off of yellow fever vaccination in the state by the wife of the governor, Mrs Bisi Fayemi, said, “Governor Fayemi has placed all the health officers in Ekiti State on the alert and we have designated one of our facilities for the special purpose of receiving any suspected case to the place for immediate treatment.
 
“The experts have held meetings with the governor in this regard. Lassa fever has affected Ondo State, our neighbor; we need to be on the alert because of the proximity. It is also spreading in Kano. About 18 suspects had been diagnosed in Ondo.”
 
The commissioner, who represented the governor’s wife at the event, urged Ekiti residents in the vulnerable age bracket between nine months and 44 years to seize the opportunity to be vaccinated.
 
The governor’s wife said that the state-wide vaccination was meant to safeguard the populace and stop the spread of yellow fever in Ekiti as she thanked the World Health Organisation and United Nations Children’s Fund and other partners for their concerns for the well-being of Ekiti populace.
 
The WHO state Coordinator, Dr Funmi Kolude, said, “The vaccine provides age-long protection for those that are vaccinated.” The representative of National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Mr Robert Fagun, urged Ekiti people to go for the vaccines, saying it was the only weapon against yellow fever.
 
Lagos sensitises residents, calls for caution
 
Similarly, the Lagos State Government has alerted residents to a virus, the novel Coronavirus (nCoV), which has killed no fewer than nine persons and reportedly spreading in China and the United States of America.
 
According to the state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause common cold and could lead to more severe diseases like the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.
 
Abayomi, in a statement on Thursday, explained that nCoV was a new strain that had not been previously identified in humans, explaining that Coronaviruses were primarily animal infections that could be transmitted to humans.
 
The statement read, “On December 31, 2019, the World Health Organisation, China Country Office, was informed of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause, detected in Wuhan City, in the Hubei Province of China. A novel Coronavirus was identified as the causative virus by the Chinese authorities on January 7.
 
“The Lagos State Biosecurity team, in collaboration with the Lagos University Teaching Hospital is currently working on building urgent capacity to identify the virus in our bio-security facility and isolation wards located at the Mainland Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba in the event of any suspected case arriving in Lagos.”
 
Abayomi urged citizens to practise personal and environmental hygiene, including regular hand washing, covering of mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing.
 
Ondo NYSC advises corpers against drinking garri
 
As a preventive measure the National Youths Service Corps in Ondo State has advised corps members to stop drinking garri. The Ondo NYSC gave the advice just as it allayed the fear of the parents, saying the corps members were safe in the state.
 
The state NYSC Coordinator, Mrs Grace Akpabio, who stated this on Thursday, in Akure, the state capital, said the corps gave the welfare and safety of the corps members’ top priority. She said, “We have standing agreement with the Lassa fever section of the FMC, Owo that if there is any problem, they should attend to our corps members and treat them immediately.
 
“Apart from that, we are carrying out sensitisation at the Community Development Service Unit to all corps members and we have also told them that they should stay away from eating soaked garri since the cause of Lassa fever is from rodents and ensure a clean environment so that they would not attract rodents to their houses.
 
“No corps member is affected with Lassa fever so far. It was sometimes last year we had a scare but the corps member was admitted by the FMC and after some tests were carried out on the corps member, he came back with a clean bill of health”
 
Oyo partners UCH, NMA
 
Meanwhile, the Oyo State Government has positioned medical officers in the 33 local government council areas and 35 local council development authorities of the state to handle suspected cases of Lassa fever.
 
 The state government also indicated that it has stepped up preventive efforts by partnering the University College Hospital, Ibadan, and the Nigeria Medical Association to curb the spread of the disease to the state.
 
The state commissioner for Health, Dr Bashir Bello, while addressing journalists at the Film Theatre of the state Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, said although, there was no reported case of Lassa fever in the state, government had intensified preventive measures.
 
He said, “Since the outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever in parts of the country, the state ministry of health had been on surveillance.

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