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Lassa fever: Enugu Govt urges residents to be on guard

Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi
By Emmanuel Acha
The Enugu State Government has called on residents of the state to be on guard against Lassa fever following the outbreak of the disease in neighbouring Ebonyi.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Fintan Ekochin, made the appeal on Wednesday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu.
Ekochin said that though the disease was not prevalent amongst the population, but there was concern about those that travel to and from Ebonyi.
“Lassa fever is something that has been a challenge in Ebonyi and they are prone to have issues that may lead to deaths.
“Enugu fortunately does not have it being prevalent or endemic in the population and that makes our own risk lower.
“Our concern are those commuters that travel to and from Ebonyi and if they contact the disease how we select them from the general public, quarantine and treat them,” he said.
Ekochin said that the state had an internationally approved isolation ward ready to handle highly infectious diseases, “so we are ready to have such patients and treat them.
“The facility was one of the biggest challenges that the ministry faced in the last quarter of 2017 when Monkey Pox was everywhere.
“We had three suspect cases. At that time the state government funded the ministry to set up an isolation ward.
“The ward gives us the benefit of isolating patients from relations and medical workers.
“What happened in Ebonyi is that the doctors and nurses treating the patients got infected and died,” he said.
The commissioner appealed to residents of the state to maintain high level of hygiene, adding that food items needed not be exposed to rodents, cockroaches and flies.
“If you keep your environment clean and use rodent-proof containers to store your food then they will not be contaminated,” he said.
He said that the Emergency Preparedness Team of the Department of Public Health of the ministry had already met to brainstorm on the recent outbreak of the disease in Ebonyi.
He said that they instituted proactive measures to avert the possible incursion of the disease into the state.
“The meeting was special because we expanded it to include faith-based and private hospitals.
“The aim was to discuss what we can do so that we will continue to enjoy medical peace knowing that we are 45 minutes drive from Ebonyi where there are unfortunate challenges with the disease,” Ekochin said.
It would be recalled that the state chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) recently set up a 22-member committee to sensitise residents on how best to check the entry of the disease into the state.

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