Lassa fever victims flee to Ondo, death toll rises

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The Ondo State Government says Lassa fever cases are rising in the state because victims from the neighbouring states are trooping to the state for free treatment.

The State Epidemiologist, Dr Stephen Fagbemi, confirmed that no fewer than 20 people had been killed by the disease in the state.

The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Wahab Adegbenro,  said,  “We are having the high figure because Ondo State is the only state that the treatment of Lassa fever is free of charge. I think we are having people coming from other areas for free treatment.”

This came as the  Rivers State Government confirmed that two more persons had lost their lives to Lassa fever.

Meanwhile, the  Federal Government has moved to prevent Lassa fever disease from spreading in the country by activating the National Emergency Operations Centre in eight states and the Federal Capital Territory.

The Bayelsa State Government said it had recorded a suspected case of Lassa fever, while the Cross River State Commissioner for Health, Dr Betta Edu,  announced there was no case of the disease in the state.

Nigeria working on  vaccine –Minister

Meanwhile, the  Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said  at a press conference   in Abuja on Tuesday that  Nigeria  was contributing to research for the development of Lassa fever vaccine to proffer a lasting solution to the disease, according to the News Agency of Nigeria.

Ehanire said Lassa fever was preventable and could be treated.

According to him, there has been an increase in the number of Lassa cases reported across the country.

“As of January 28, 2020,  258 confirmed cases, 41 deaths have been reported in 19 states with a majority of the cases being from Ebonyi, Edo and Ondo states,”  NAN quoted the minister as saying.

“Giving the tropical climate in Nigeria, there is high risk of infectious diseases like Lassa fever because of the vector; this also is the case for other African countries with similar environment.

“Despite increase in number of confirmed cases, the overall case fertility rate for 2020 is 15 per cent compared with 2019 which was 20 per cent.’’

The National Centre for Disease Control said in a statement that emergency centres had been activated in  Abia, Delta, Enugu, Edo, Ebonyi, Ondo, Borno and Kano states as well as in the FCT.

The NCDC said Lassa fever was preventable and could be treated especially if patients approached health care facilities early.

112 cases recorded in Ondo

Meanwhile, 112 cases of the disease are said to have been recorded in Ondo so far.

The cases were said to have been recorded in the Akoko South-West, Ose, Owo, Akure South and Ondo West LGAs.

Adegbenro, who addressed journalists on the World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day, said the World Health Organisation had targeted most of the preventive chemotherapy of  NTDs for elimination by 2030 “in line with the Millennium Development Goal 3”.

Bayelsa sets up isolation centre

Also, the Bayelsa State Commissioner for Health, Dr Pabara Newton-Igwele, told reporters in Yenagoa that the  state government had set up an isolation centre at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Okolobiri, to cater for suspected cases of Lassa fever in the state.

C’River lectures residents

Edu said  Cross River residents should prevent the outbreak of the disease by avoiding “anything that will make our environment dirty, wash our hands, keep everywhere clean, avoid rats and do not dry food.”

Rivers moves to prevent outbreak

The loss of two lives to the disease in Rivers on  Sunday and Monday came barely one week after one person was killed by the disease at the Specialist Hospital in Irrua, Edo State.

The  Director, Planning and Statistics, Rivers State Ministry of Health, Dr Chinwe Atata, told reporters in Port Harcourt on Wednesday that the Public Health Emergency Operation Centre had since been making efforts towards containing the outbreak of the disease.

She said, “Two samples were sent from here and one sample was the Irrua case, which was positive and they are all late. But there is no spread as of now. The 57 persons, who  are still under surveillance, are going through the routine procedure and decontamination of the facilities has been done.”


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