At least 50 persons have been placed under watch by the Rivers State Ministry of Health as Lassa fever breaks out in the state.
This is just as one person has been confirmed dead following the outbreak, Dr. Chinwe Atata, acting permanent secretary, confirmed.
Atata noted that the ministry in a few days got reports of many cases of Lassa fever, adding that some samples have been collected for further investigations. He noted that one of the victims contracted the ailment from Edo State, adding that the patient has also died.
The State, she hinted, is working with the hospital management, family and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to ensure public safety, especially for the health workers and first responders while 57 persons are under surveillance.
Atata said: “In the last few days we’ve received four reports of suspected cases of Lassa fever in Rivers State, all these cases have received prompt and adequate attention.
“Two rumours have been investigated and discarded. Two samples have been collected and sent to the national reference laboratories for virology.
“All two cases are still suspected, unconfirmed and results are being awaited.
However, the State was notified of a resident of Rivers State who was diagnosed in Edo State as a case of Lassa fever on the 22/1/2020.
“Incidentally, the patient passed on at Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital 22nd January 2020 investigations are ongoing at Edo State.
Atata said over 50 people have been placed under watch by the ministry, calling for calm among the residents.
“Presently, fifty-seven persons have so far been placed under surveillance. We are working in partnership with State, Federal Agencies and all stakeholders in the interest of public health security. There is, therefore, no cause for alarm as the situation as recorded is firmly under control.
“In addition, we have in stock, sufficient quantities of commodities and drugs for therapeutic and preventive interventions in case of further challenges. The State Infectious Isolation and Treatment teams are all on response modes for swift intervention.
“The general public is also enjoined to promote good community hygiene, keep your food and water covered to prevent contamination by a rat. Foodstuffs should be put in food containers and covered; do not dry food items in an open place.”
Don’t touch food items with open hands; the use of alcohol disinfectant is recommended and washing of hands regularly as well as keeping the environment clean is very important.”
“In view of the prevailing upsurge of Lassa cases in the country, all health service centres are to maintain simple triage systems for all patients and uphold standard infection prevention principles required for service delivery,” he added.