Coronavirus/Lassa Fever: Anambra State activates Public Health Emergency Operation Centre

1041 views | Elochukwu Benjamin | January 30, 2020

As concerns rise over the spate of deaths resulting from Lassa fever and Corona Virus, Anambra State Government says it has activated its Public Health Emergency Operation Centre to respond to any eventuality.

Anambra State Epidemiologist, Dr Chijioke Obagha disclosed this in Awka in an interview with a correspondent on the recent development.

According to reports from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the death toll from the Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria has increased to 41, with 19 states affected.

In Anambra, there have been no confirmed cases of Lassa Fever, a viral haemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus and transmitted by the multi-mammate rats (Rats with multiple breast and hairless long-tail) nor coronavirus, a new finding that manifests with symptoms of mild or severe upper respiratory tract infection like cough and breathing difficulties.

Obagha said although there are no confirmed cases, there have been suspected cases where samples were investigated and taken to the laboratory but they have all come out negative.

“Due to the heightened awareness of Lassa fever, people always suspect things when they witness what looks like the symptoms but they have never been confirmed. As a result of the renewed incidences in the country, the State has activated its Public Health Emergency Operation Centre. The team is always on red alert, studying the trends of diseases and monitoring all conventional and social media platforms. Any report that comes, we follow up immediately. The state has also established Isolation centres for cases of infection at Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital (COOUTH) Amaku-Awka and also at General Hospital Onitsha,” he revealed.

Obagha said the state’s public health emergency operation numbers have been given out to the populace to enable them to report suspected cases while campaigns have been intensified to enlighten the people on the symptoms of Lassa fever and what is required of the people to remain safe.

“We have also engaged media outfits through phone-in programs. Various sensitization and social mobilization initiatives are ongoing for people not to panic and know that the situation is what can be taken care of. We also have the Rapid Response Team on the ground to handle reported cases. All our people need to do is to adhere to the prevention measures such as blocking all rat holes in their surroundings, maintaining a clean environment, regular hand-washing, keeping foods in covered containers, among others,” he advised.

On the coronavirus, the Epidemiologist said as a new finding, they are still learning about it but confirmed that it has no specific treatment presently rather symptomatic treatments can be administered to sufferers.

He revealed that the virus manifests with symptoms of mild or severe upper respiratory tract infection like cough and breathing difficulties.

According to him, “to stay safe, citizens must have the right information on safe practices and to endeavour to report cases immediately they are observed to ensure early intervention. People must also wash their hands regularly, cover their noses and mouths when sneezing, avoid close contact with anyone with respiratory symptoms and shun self-medication.

Also for health workers, standard Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) must be at top-notch.”

Obagha, however,  observed that with the national network in place and the increased awareness among the citizenry, any incident of coronavirus will be effectively contained.

“In Infectious Disease Management, there is a national network which starts at the borders, working as Port Health Authorities. There, procedures are taken for persons who are suspected to have been exposed and if it requires quarantine, it will be done. If there is further need to follow the person up, the Port Health Authorities will alert the states to follow up. This has worked well in the past and we hope that should there be any case of coronavirus, this system will address it without much harm to the general population,” Obagha added.

 

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