By Sola Ogundipe & Victoria Ojeme
LAGOS — To forestall the effects of the Lassa fever outbreak in the country, the Federal Government has urged patients with high fever not to travel out of their states of residence, even as tracing of 35 persons believed to have had contact with the deceased Abuja patient has begun.
Disclosing this in Minna, Niger State during a courtesy call on the state governor, Abubakar Bello, Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said the restriction was part of efforts by the Federal Government to strengthen the Lassa fever alert system so as to achieve effective monitoring of the disease in the country,
Adewole, who noted that it was failure of the notification system that made it impossible for the ministry to respond promptly to the situation in the state, reiterated that the Federal Government’s mission and mandate in the health sector was to keep every Nigerian safe.
He emphasised that since the outbreak of the disease this year, the fatality rate in the country had so far remained at 44 per cent.
The minister reassured that there was no person-to-person or hospital acquired infection recorded except the case in Plateau State, noting that the federal ministry would support all states and local governments in the training of health workers in the affected states, especially as there was need for further investigation of all the reported cases.
In a directive to the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, Dr. Ado Muhammad, during a visit to the community where 16 people were killed by the current Lassa fever outbreak, Adewole directed the immediate renovation of the primary health centre in Fuka, Niger State, and said it must be repositioned to render 24 hours service.
Search for 35 contacts of Abuja Lassafever victim
In a related development, tracing of 35 persons believed to have had contact with the late Abuja Lassa fever patient has begun.
The deceased, whose identity remained unknown, died at the National Hospital, Abuja on Wednesday.
Coordinator, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Prof. Abudulsalam Nasidi,who confirmed the contact tracing, said 15 persons have been placed under surveillance. The number, he stated, might increase by the end of the day as the contact tracing is continuous.
Earlier, spokesperson of the National Hospital, Mr. Tayo Hastrup, announced the setting up of isolation centre in the hospital for treatment of Lassa fever, as hospital workers have been prepared for such cases should there be any reocurrence.
Haastrup also revealed that the test conducted on the other suspected patient came out negative. He, therefore, assured FCT residents that the hospital was adequately prepared and ready to deal with any emergency.
In his response, Governor Sani Bello, who was represented by his deputy, Ahmed Ketso, called for incorporation of traditional healthcare healers into the National Primary Health Care delivery system due largely to their being the closest to the people particularly in rural areas.