By Dayo Johnson, Akure
PALPABLE tension has gripped people in five council areas of Ondo State following the death of 20 persons on account of lassa fever in the councils.
The state government confirmed 16 deaths and 87 cases of lassa fever.
Vanguard, however, gathered that the death toll as of Wednesday night was 20 while cases had increased to about 150.
Affected council areas include Owo, Akure South, Ose, and Akoko South-West and Ondo West.
Reports in the council areas said that residents with symptoms of malaria fever stormed health centres for fear of being attacked by lassa fever.
Vanguard learned that government’s hospitals in affected council areas witnessed unprecedented number of residents who came to check their health status.
A medical personnel confirmed that panic and apprehension enveloped the councils following news of the outbreak of the disease.“Governor Rotimi Akeredolu reportedly met with traditional rulers in Owo Local Government Area of the state where he harped on the need for the traditional rulers to mobilise their subjects to desist from all causative factors of Lassa fever in their environment.“The Olowo of Owo, Oba Ajibade Ogunoye appreciated Governor Akeredolu for personally championing the war against Lassa Fever through sensitization meetings and also making Lassa Fever treatment free in Ondo State.
Oba Ogunoye called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on the disease.“
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Also, the Oloba of Uso, Oba Ademola Oyinbade Olanipekun; the Asuada of Isuada, Oba Joel Oluwafemi Adeluwoye and the Elemure of Emure, Oba Simeon Adedubaje Adeyefa who spoke differently on behalf of the other monarchs, pledged their commitments to the State Government directives on Lassa Fever control and extermination in the state.
The Chief Medical Director of Ondo State specialist hospital, Ikare, Dr Wale Oguntuase, urged members of the public to imbibe personal hygiene particularly covering their food to prevent rats from having access to them. Oguntuase appealed to people with symptoms to visit medical facilities where qualified medical personnel will attend to them.
The State Epidemiologist, Dr. Steven Fagbemi while briefing Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and three council chairmen in the affected areas said that only 16 of the patients had died.
Fagbemi said the cases of the deceased persons had reached advanced stage before they were brought to hospitals.
According to him, 47 patients are currently on admission and responding to treatment, while 21 persons had been treated and discharged.
Also speaking, the leader of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Yahaya Disu, explained that lassa fever cases were recorded in Owo, Akoko South West, Akure South, and Ondo West Local Government Areas.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Wahab Adegbenro advised Nigerians to visit hospitals when they notice fever symptoms.
In a broadcast to the people of the state, Governor Akeredolu expressed sadness over the outbreak.
“Sadly, within the few weeks of this year, several scores have been affected and some had died from the disease.
“We will like to use this opportunity to commiserate with families who have lost their loved ones, and we wish those who are on treatment a speedy recovery
The governor said that his administration “over the past one year has taken several steps to curtail this outbreak but still finds itself once again at the throes of another serious outbreak.
“One important reason for this is the fact that some of our citizens still indulge in habits that continue to encourage this disease to spread.
The governor appealed to “those affected to come early to hospitals, where experts can quickly make the correct diagnosis and treatment can be commenced early.
“On our part, government is determined that the yearly occurrence of this outbreak is finally brought to end.”