Nigerian are hoping for an instant eradication of deadly Lassa Fever outbreak that has spread to about 17 states in the country has been heartbroken as the Federal Government has declared that the earliest the disease can be totally defeated is in April.
At least 45 people have died of the disease in the country so far.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, told the Punch on Wednesday that government is doing all it takes to eradicate the disease by April and prevent another outbreak.
The minister said, “We want to assure Nigerians that Lassa fever will soon become a thing of the past. It will become history in Nigeria. Ordinarily, Lassa fever will be eradicated from Nigeria in April. But if we do nothing, it will come back by August. So, we will make sure that we work all-year round to make sure that there is no resurgence in August.
“Our target is to eradicate it in April. Even if we have one or two cases, we will treat them early because all our antennae will be out to treat any case,” he stated.
He said everybody who has been discovered to have had contacts with patients with Lassa Fever has been placed under surveillance to prevent further spread of the disease. For instance, he said a family who was visited by a patient who died of the disease in Kubwa has been placed under surveillance.
“Not just the families that the patient visited in Kubwa but also those who treated him (have been placed under surveillance). We are working on that, we don’t want to frighten anybody. But I can assure you that our officials are all over the place to make sure that we place them under surveillance. It is all in their interest, not that we want to frighten them.”
Asked if there were plans to shut down the whole of the hospital, the minister said, “When you say shut down, we don’t want to physically shut down the place. But when the hospital is under surveillance, no patient will be allowed to go there until we declare the place safe and that is the situation in the Kubwa hospital.”
The minister added that the ward in the National Hospital where the patient was admitted and the mortuary where he was kept had also been decontaminated.
Meanwhile, the authorities of the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex, Ile-Ife, on Wednesday, confirmed that a resident doctor died of Lassa Fever.
The chairman of a committee set up by the OAUTHC on Lassa fever, Prof. Adedeji Onayade, said that the result of the first test carried out on the deceased was positive.
Onayade said, “We have a report which was positive. We were supposed to do two tests but the patient was dying when we took the first sample. We can’t do the second test now. So, we can say it is 50 per cent but we are going ahead to take necessary steps. We have informed all those who should know.
“There is no need to panic, Lassa fever is treatable and we are set to ensure that the situation is contained effectively.”