By Chukwuemeka Opara
Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi has advised residents of Ebonyi to minimize handshakes, following the outbreak of Lassa Fever in the state.
Umahi gave the advice on Tuesday in Abakaliki while briefing newsmen on the outcome of a meeting with the management of the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki (FETHA), the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) and other stakeholders in the health sector.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the state government on Monday confirmed the death of two persons from a renewed Lassa Fever outbreak in the state.
Dr. Daniel Onwuzurike, the Commissioner for Health, who made the disclosure, said that the deceased included a medical doctor and a nurse working at FETHA.
Umahi urged members of the public to report cases of high temperature, especially those that persisted for two or more days, to hospitals.
“Do not wait for the affected person to report to the hospital; do it yourself,” he said.
He also advised people against eating rats and bush meat, and stressed the need to wash hands frequently.
The governor announced the release of N5 million for the upgrade of the South-East Virology Centre, Abakaliki, regretting that it had not been functional since it was handed over to the Federal Government.
He said that the money would be used to scout for experts from Edo and Lagos, and to also equip the centre.
Umahi said that N2 million had also been released for effective monitoring of flash points like Hausa quarters, Mater Misericordae Hospital, Afikpo and FETHA.
He said that government would also release funds to assist the families of the dead victims, and assured members of the public that everything was being done to contain the disease.
Meanwhile, the NMA has staged a peaceful demonstration to protest the death of two colleagues, following the outbreak of the disease.
The doctors, who stormed the Ebonyi Government House on Tuesday, held placards some of which read:“Save doctors from untimely death” ,“Health practice shouldn’t be a death warrant”, among others.
Dr. Oliver Mbam, who led the protesting physician, accused the Federal Government of neglecting the virology centre at Abakaliki, saying that such neglect was responsible for the death of the health personnel.
“Lassa Fever has been killing health workers since 2015; we have lost several members over the years and cannot continue like this,” he said.