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FCT minister allays fears, says no Lassa Fever outbreak in Abuja

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FCT minister allays fears, says no Lassa Fever outbreak in Abuja
Lassa Fever

By Omeiza Ajayi – Abuja

Federal Capital Territory FCT minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello has allayed fears among residents of the nation’s capital as to the presence of Lassa Fever in the territory, saying there is yet no confirmed case of the dreaded disease.

“There is no confirmed case of Lassa Fever in the FCT”, he declared during an emergency meeting of medical experts and senior members of the FCT Administration to ascertain the status of the FCT following Lassa Fever outbreaks in some neighbouring states.

He said the meeting was also to ascertain the level of preparedness of the FCT Health Authorities in tackling a possible outbreak of the disease in the Territory.

READ ALSO: Lassa fever: Plateau confirm 7 cases, no death recorded

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

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

Malam Bello who expressed relief that there is no known cause of the disease in the FCT however called on the medical experts to be prepared to forestall any outbreak, be it Lassa Fever or the Coronavirus.

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.

Malam Bello also directed that all stakeholders should hold regular meetings even when there are no visible threats so as to perfect plans for a foolproof mechanism to handle the breakout of any infectious disease.

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.

READ ALSO: Lassa fever: Stop eating rats, Minister advises Nigerians

She explained that Lassa Fever is a disease caused by a lack of proper hygiene, calling on residents to ensure that their homes and environments were free of rats which are known carriers of the disease.

The Director added that awareness campaigns have been intensified on ways of preventing the disease and strongly advised against self-medication adding that anyone feeling unwell should immediately seek medical attention.

Also speaking, Chairman, Infection Prevention and Control Committee, University teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, Dr. Yunusa Tahir and the Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee, National Hospital Abuja, both agreed that there was need for all medical personnel to work together and be prepared in case of an outbreak while calling on the FCT Administration to provide a treatment centre for any confirmed case of the disease in the FCT.

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