Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire has disclosed that 41 people have died out of the 258 Lassa Fever cases confirmed in 19 states.
Ehanire who spoke to newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday, stated that the disease is endemic due to Nigeria’s ecological profile.
He said it is everyone’s responsibility to help curb the spread of the disease as he disclosed that the overall case-fatality rate for 2020 has been just about 15 per cent compared to the same in 2019, which was 20 per cent.
“Lassa fever is a disease that is indigenous to our country because it occurs every year, particularly in the dry season.
“As of the 28th of January, 2020, 258 confirmed cases and 41 deaths have been reported in 19 states, with a majority of the cases from Ebonyi, Edo and Ondo states.
“Given the tropical climate in Nigeria and the abundance of the disease vectors, the high risk of infectious diseases like Lassa fever is high.
“Despite the increase in confirmed cases, the overall case-fatality rate for 2020 has been just about 15 per cent compared to the same in 2019, which was 20 per cent.
“A few years ago the case fatality rate was over 30 per cent,” he said.
The minister also confirmed that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has activated a National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to coordinate responses to the outbreak.
His words: “The EOC, which was constituted on January 24, includes representatives from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Ministry of Environment, World Health Organisation, UNICEF, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and other partners.
“While we are gradually moving towards achieving a single-digit fatality rate, we will continue to support response activities like surveillance and contact tracing in affected states through the deployment of rapid response teams for improved case management and outcomes.
“The rapid response teams have so far been deployed to five states – Ebonyi, Enugu, Kano, Borno and Ondo states.
“It is important for health workers to maintain a high index of suspicion and practice universal health precautions to protect themselves from infections by using surgical masks, gloves, laboratory coats and aprons.
“Further information on Lassa fever can be obtained from the following number – 08099555577.”
Ehanire revealed that the Ministry of Health is working tirelessly to strengthen surveillance and response to public health emergencies at points of entry for coronavirus. He added that the risk factor for coronavirus depends largely on air travel volume.
“Nigeria has a moderate risk factor because we do not have the huge air travel volume that other high risks countries have,” he said