Written by Sarah NEGEDU

Lassa fever: FCT on high alert following outbreak in Nasarawa, others

Though there has been no identified case of Lassa fever in the FCT, the Administration says it is on alert of to guard against a possible breakout occasioned by reported cases of the disease in neighbouring states.

Recall that the Nasarawa state government had confirmed a case of Lassa fever in Karu Local Government Area of the state, which was confirmed at Garki General Hospital where the victim is being treated and quarantined with other suspected cases in the area.

The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello has however allayed fears among residents insisting that there is no confirmed case of the dreaded disease.

Speaking at an emergency meeting of medical experts and senior members of the FCT Administration convened to ascertain the status of the FCT, Bello expressed relief that there is no known case of the disease in the FCT.

The Minister stressed that the FCT had good medical facilities, adding that an outbreak could be an indictment on the health care especially if it is uncontained and not effectively managed.

The meeting had experts in human virology and infection prevention and control from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, World Health Organisation, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital Infection Prevention and Control Committee, National Hospital Medical Advisory committee, FCT Chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association, Port Health Services, FCT Primary Healthcare Board and Department of Public Health in attendance.

He also stressed the need for Area Council Chairmen to be actively involved in the planning and execution of prevention and treatment programmes since a possible outbreak will most likely impact more on the grassroots.

Bello also urged the experts to synergize all their efforts for optimum results while calling on residents to take all necessary preventive measures to avoid contracting the deadly disease.

While urging health workers to follow all protection protocols to avoid getting infected, Malam Bello directed the release of additional vehicles for the use of the Department of Public Health for the purpose of the Lassa Fever prevention campaign.

He said: “Even after this is over, the same group of stakeholders should be meeting regularly to see what has been done and what needs to be done so that we don’t really have to wait to have any situation like the one at hand to start discussing as to what we need to do”.

Speaking on the preparedness of the FCT for any possible outbreak of Lassa Fever, the Director of Public Health, Dr. Josephine Okechukwu stressed that even though there was no identified case of Lassa fever in the FCT the Administration will remain on high alert as long as there could be a possibility of a breakout occasioned by reported cases of the disease in neighbouring states.

Dr. Okechukwu said disease surveillance and monitoring officers have already been trained and have received the support of motorcycles to intensify surveillance in the rural communities, adding that the reference laboratory in Gaduwa is fully functional to investigate blood samples for proper diagnosis of any suspected case of the disease.



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