The Federal Government disclosed, on Tuesday, that Lassa fever has claimed 41 lives from 93 reported cases in 10 states of the country even as the Senate has summoned the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, over the outbreak of the disease.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Federal Government, last Friday, put the death toll at 40 out of 86 reported cases of Lassa fever outbreak in same 10 states. The number of the suspected cases also rose from 86 last week to 93.
Adewole, who confirmed this in Abuja, on Tuesday, at a joint ministerial news conference on the update of the outbreak of the disease, however, said there were no new confirmed cases or death in the last 48 hours.
He said: “In the last 48 hours, the government raised a four-man expert committee, chaired by Prof. Michael Asuzu, to visit Kano, Niger and Bauchi, the three most endemic states. The committee will embark on a fact-finding mission, assess the current situation, document response experiences, identify gaps and proffer recommendations on how to prevent future occurrences.”
The minister assured the public that the task of the committee was not to apportion blame but rather to document lessons learnt for better planning of an affective responsive.
According to Adewole, part of the long term response is to establish an inter-ministerial committee to deliver a final blow on Lassa fever and other related diseases.
The committee comprised the Ministers of Education, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Environment, Information and Culture as well as Health.
Adewole advised communities to improve on their hygiene, including food hygiene and food protection practices. He also urged the public to avoid contact with rodents and rats as well as food contaminated with rat’s secretions and excretions.
“Avoid drying food in the open and along roadsides, it is also important to cover all foods to prevent rodents contamination,” he said.
According to him, the affected states are Bauchi, Nasarawa, Niger, Taraba, Kano, Rivers, Edo, Plateau, Gombe and Oyo.
Senate Summons Adewole
Meanwhile, the Senate, on Tuesday, blamed the Ministry of Health for not being proactive which led to the outbreak of Lassa fever in Nigeria even as it summoned the minister to appear before it.
According to the Senate, the minister must appear before the Senators to explain the efforts put in place by the ministry to combat further spread of Lassa fever in the country, and urged Nigerians to be very conscious of the situation by adhering to rules of reasonable hygiene. It also urged non-affected states to be educated on preventive measures.