The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Saturday disclosed that as at Friday, January 24, 29 deaths and 195 confirmed cases of Lassa fever have been recorded in 11 states of the federation.
The Director General NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, who made the disclosure in a statement he signed in Abuja, said out of the confirmed cases, 89 per cent were from Ondo, Edo and Ebonyi States.
He however, noted that the increased number of cases at this time of the year was not unusual due to ecological reasons.
Ihekweazu said that in response to the increasing number of cases across the states, NCDC on Friday activated a National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to coordinate response activities.
The EOC includes representatives from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Ministry of Environment, World Health Organisation, UNICEF, US Centres for Disease Control, and other partners.
He disclosed also that NCDC had over the last three weeks deployed Rapid Response Teams to support five of the affected states.
Ihekweazu also disclosed that the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, led a high-level delegation to Kano State on Saturday, following the deaths of two health workers infected with Lassa fever.
On the bright side, however, Ihekweazu said that there had been a decline in the fatality rate of the reported Lassa fever cases from 23.4 per cent in 2019 to 14.8 per cent this year.
He explained that five laboratories in Nigeria have the capacity to diagnose Lassa fever in the country.
Ihekweazu said that the laboratories were critical to reducing turnaround time between identifying a suspected case and confirmation.
He added: “Nigeria is contributing to research and other activities for the development of a Lassa fever vaccine.
“Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Federal Medical Centre Owo and Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital Abakalilki – are set to commence Lassa fever epidemiological studies that will provide data to guide research and response activities.
“NCDC remains committed to protecting the health of Nigerians, it is important for Nigerians to practice good hygiene and take measures to protect themselves and their families.”