…As WHO advises countries to prepare for Coronavirus detection after death toll, hits 56***
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has disclosed that 29 deaths and 195 confirmed cases of Lassa fever had been reported in 11 states of the federation.
Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General, NCDC, who disclosed this in a statement he signed on Saturday in Abuja, explained that the current figures were as at Friday, Jan. 24.
Ihekweazu, said out of the confirmed cases, 89 per cent were from Ondo, Edo and Ebonyi States.
The NCDC boss said that the increased number of cases at this time of the year was not unusual due to ecological factors.
He said that in response to the increasing number of Lassa fever cases across the states in the country, NCDC activated a National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) on Friday to coordinate response activities.
Ihekweazu said that the EOC includes representatives from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Ministry of Environment, World Health Organisation, UNICEF, US Centres for Disease Control, and other partners.
He said that NCDC would continue to support states in strengthening their preparedness and response capacity.
He added that over the last three weeks, NCDC had deployed Rapid Response Teams to support five of the affected states.
According to him, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, led a high-level delegation to Kano State on Saturday, following the deaths of two health workers infected with Lassa fever.
The NCDC DG added that the centre had rapidly increased risk communications and community engagement activities to ensure that Nigerians were aware of the risks of Lassa fever and measures to protect themselves.
He, however, said that there had been a decline in the fatality rate of the reported Lassa fever cases from 23.4 per cent in 2019 to 14.8 per cent this year.
“NCDC continues to support treatment centres across states in the country to effectively manage Lassa fever cases,” he said.
He explained that five laboratories in Nigeria have the capacity to diagnose Lassa fever in the country.
Ihekweazu said that the laboratories were critical to reducing turnaround time between identifying a suspected case and confirmation.
According to him, it will ensure prompt case management and other response activities in order to reduce the number of deaths.
“Nigeria is contributing to research and other activities for the development of a Lassa fever vaccine.
“Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Federal Medical Centre Owo and Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital Abakalilki- are set to commence Lassa fever epidemiological studies that will provide data to guide research and response activities.
“NCDC remains committed to protecting the health of Nigerians, it is important for Nigerians to practice good hygiene and take measures to protect themselves and their families,” he said.
Lassa fever virus is transmitted by rodents, which can be found in the environment.
This contribute largely to the risk of spread that occurs in Nigeria and other countries with similar ecological factors.
Nigeria currently do not have a vaccine to protect against Lassa fever, therefore, it relies on strengthening measures such as ensuring proper sanitation, good personal hygiene; standard care precautions by health workers etc.
The measures also depend on personal responsibility as Nigerians have a role to play in preventing the spread of Lassa fever.
In the meantime, World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised Member States to be ready for timely detection and management of any outbreak, especially coronavirus as the death toll in China hit 56.
China has confirmed 1,975 cases of patients infected with the new coronavirus while the death toll from the virus has risen to 56.
The WHO said on its tweeter handle-@WHO that the situation had not changed in China, at the regional and global level.
“WHO’s risk assessment of the new coronavirus has not change.
“ The risk of spreading the infection is very high in China, it is high at the regional level and it is moderate at the global level.’’
The UN health agency said the evolving outbreak that began in China is “a sign that every country needs to be ready to timely detect and manage outbreaks of any type.’’
WHO’s Regional Office for Europe had officially been notified of the first novel #coronavirus cases in Europe.
Three cases have been confirmed in France and WHO is in contact with the relevant authorities.
All of them had traveled from Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus, and are now hospitalised in France.
WHO, however, commended France for quickly notifying the agency and rapidly issuing a public communication, saying “that it not only exemplified the proper steps forward, but also illustrated “an example of global collaboration and solidarity.”
WHO maintained that the first confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Europe were not unexpected.
“They remind us that the global nature of travels exempts no country from infectious disease spread.
“This also means that no country can afford postponing the establishment of all necessary measures to protect their people,” it stated.
The virus originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei in 2019 and has spread to Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai.
It has also spread to the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Australia, France and Canada.