The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has activated a National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to coordinate responses to the increasing number of Lassa fever cases across the country.
The National EOC, which was constituted on the 24th of January 2020, includes representatives from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Ministry of Environment, World Health Organization, UNICEF, US Centers for Disease Control, and other partners.
This was disclosed in a statement signed by the Director-General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, on Saturday in Abuja.
According to him: “As at the 24th of January, 2020, 195 confirmed cases and 29 deaths had been reported in 11 states.
“Of the confirmed cases, 89 percent are from Ondo, Edo and Ebonyi States. The increase in the number of cases at this time of the year is not unusual due to ecological factors.
“The NCDC continues to support states in strengthening their preparedness and response capacity.
“Over the last three weeks, NCDC has deployed Rapid Response Teams to support five of the affected states.
“Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, led a high-level delegation to Kano State on the 25th of January 2020, following the deaths of two health workers infected with Lassa fever.
“In addition, NCDC has rapidly increased risk communications and community engagement activities to ensure that Nigerians are aware of the risks of Lassa fever and measures to protect themselves”.
He explained that there has been a decline in the case fatality rate of reported Lassa fever cases from 23.4 percent in 2019 to 14.8 percent this year.
“In addition, five laboratories in Nigeria have the capacity to diagnose Lassa fever.
“These laboratories are critical to reducing turnaround time between identifying a suspected case and confirmation.
“This ensures prompt case management and other response activities, thereby reducing the number of deaths.
“Nigeria is contributing to research and other activities for the development of a Lassa fever vaccine.
“NCDC and the three main treatment centres in the country – 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.
“It is important for members of the public to practice good hygiene and take measures to protect themselves and their families.
“Health care workers should maintain a high index of suspicion as Lassa fever can present with fever just like malaria and other illnesses.
“It is very important that health care workers maintain standard care precautions when managing patients,” he said.