No case of Lassa fever in Cross River, says health commissioner

The Cross River Commissioner for Health, Dr Betta Edu on Tuesday, advised residents of the state not to panic as there was no confirmed case of Lassa fever in its health facilities.

Edu, who made the call at a stakeholders meeting on emergency preparedness held in Calabar, said the public should observe strict preventive measures to forestall an outbreak of the disease in the state.

She said that in response to the increasing number of Lassa fever cases in neighbouring states, the Cross River government had activated an Emergency Response and Surveillance Team to coordinate response activities across the state.

According to her, the team would be a collaborative effort of all stakeholders, which included the Federal and State Ministries of Health, as well as the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH).

Others were the State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Ministries of Environment and Agriculture, United Nations Agencies and other partners.

“We will be receiving Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other consumables on Jan. 29, which would be distributed across all the health facilities in the state.

“Also, we would be receiving ribavirin and other supportive drugs and intravenous fluids for treatment of cases to prevent mortality.

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“In the case of any suspected case, I will advise our people to urgently reach out to the Disease Surveillance and Notification Officer at the Local Government Areas, while ambulance services will urgently be dispatched to move clients to the isolation centre for immediate attention,” she said.

In her remarks, the State Epidemiologist, Mrs Inyang Ekpenyong, said that Lassa fever was triggered by the dry season which started in November.

Ekpenyong said that between December 2019 and January 2020, the state had recorded four suspected cases of the disease, in which three were confirmed to be negative.

“The last suspected case was discovered in UCTH this month, we are still waiting for the result of the samples we sent to the laboratory in Irrua, Edo State.

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“We have sent out messages to all our sister agencies and health care providers to intensify surveillance and work with the media to create more awareness, anyone who sees something should say something,” she said.

The Chairman, Medical Advisory Council (CMAC) of UCTH, Prof. Ogbu Ngim, said that the hospital is better prepared and ready to tackle any outbreak with the presence of an Isolation Centre in the facility.

He, however, called on the State Government to have an open line of communication so that there would be a seamless operation among all agencies should the need arise.

The Cross River Coordinator of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Rilwan Raji, who was represented by the agency’s Surveillance Focal Person, Mr Bernard Ntui, assured the state of their readiness.

Raji said that they were present in the 18 Local government areas of the state with surveillance focal persons in all the health facilities in case of any outbreaks.

(NAN)

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