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Minister says emergency phase of Lassa fever outbreak is over




Bukola Afeni


Following the epidemiological review by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation, the ministry of health said that the emergency phase of the Lassa fever outbreak is over.
While making the announcement in Abuja ,the minister of health ,Professor Isaac Adewole disclosed that since the beginning of January 2018, the country have experienced the largest Lassa fever outbreak in history,while noting that as at the 7th of May 2018, the country had 423 confirmed cases and 106 deaths .
According to the minister ,the end of the outbreak does not mean the country will no longer record cases of Lassa fever. It means that we are now better equipped and stronger to tackle the disease .
“Based on the epidemiology of the disease in Nigeria, there will still be report of cases.We are working closely with WHO to strengthen research activities on Lassa fever .The working group at NCDC will remain active, ensuring Lassa fever cases are detected early, treated and improve the level of awareness in the country”
Profesor Adewole said the federal government supported the establishment of EOCs in the high burden States of Ondo, Edo and Ebonyi.
“As part of strategic measures to curbing the disease,rapid response teams were deployed to States with cases where we supported enhanced surveillance activities, case investigation, management of cases and other response activities”
“We supported the full operationalization of the Virology Centre at the Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki and the development of its laboratory as a testing site. We have now grown from two laboratories in January 2017, to four laboratories in January 2018 with the capacity to test for Lassa fever”
Similarly ,he noted that Federal Ministry of Health also supported further development of infrastructure at the three main treatment centres- Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Federal Medical Centre Owo and Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki.
The minister of health said the federal government has begun a nationwide training of healthcare workers on Lassa fever case management and diagnosis by NCDC and Irua Specialist Teaching Hospital.
“The first phase which covered all States in the South West of Nigeria ended in Akure on the 4th of May 2018. We are going to the South East from the 14th of May 2018”
In the same vein ,Professor Adewole said the Port Health services unit have been placed on red-alert and will heighten screening measures at ports of entry,to prevent the spread of Ebola into the country .

“We are aware of the outbreak of Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo following an announcement by the country on the 8th of May 2018.
Letters of alert have also been sent to all States to enhance surveillance activities and an advisory note for the general public ”

While speaking ,the chief executive officer of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control,Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu said the country is currently coordinating a national working group that is assessing and managing Ebola risk in Nigeria.
“We are in close communication with our partners including the World Health Organisation, who are in Congo to monitor and respond to the disease ”
We have a coordinated team of international colleagues both within and outside the country ,who is ready to respond to Ebola risk management .”
According to him ,Nigeria is ready to confront any form of infectious disease that may ravage the citizen .
“We have the structure ,the personnel and the institution that will make everything work according to plan .We will try as much as possible to prepare ,we will try as much as possible to detect ,and also respond to any form of infectious disease outbreak in the country ”




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