Nigeria declares Lassa fever outbreak over

Lassa fever
Lassa fever

The Federal Ministry of Health has declared the Lassa fever outbreak ravaging the country over.

This is coming after four and half months of the country combating the disease in 22 states.

The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, in Abuja on Thursday said the announcement follows the epidemiological review by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

He said the emergency phase of the Lassa fever outbreak is over.

Between January and May 7, a total of 423 confirmed cases of Lassa fever were reported, causing 106 deaths.

The minister said this year’s outbreak is the largest Lassa fever outbreak in the history of Nigeria.

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Mr Adewole said the Lassa fever outbreak has been declared over for this year not because there won’t be more cases, but because there has been a consistent and significant decline in the past six weeks.

“The outbreak has dropped below levels considered to be a national emergency. The Lassa fever outbreak provided an opportunity for us to review and strengthen our public health across disease preparedness, detection, surveillance and response,” he said.

The minister explained that giving the epidemiology of Lassa fever in Nigeria, it is likely that the country will continue to record cases of Lassa fever.

He, however, said several medium and long-term activities have been put in place to enhance preparedness and response in future.

“The end of the outbreak does not mean we will no longer record cases of Lassa fever. Giving the epidemiology of the disease in Nigeria, there will still be reports of cases. However, we now better prepared and have a stronger response architecture.”

“We are working very closely with WHO to strengthen research activities on Lassa fever, including new diagnostic approaches and improved treatment options, he said.

The minister also added that the national Lassa fever working group at NCDC will remain active. It will ensure that Lassa fever cases are detected early, treated and there is an increased level of awareness across the country.

He also appreciated all the development partners and health workers who worked effortlessly during the outbreak.

The Chief Executive Officer, NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, said the NCDC is available to prevent, protect and respond to any Lassa fever cases,

Despite the end of the emergency phase of this outbreak, NCDC and its partners will continue to maintain intensive preparedness and response activities for Lassa fever, he said.

This includes supporting states with expertise, commodities and human resources needed to respond to cases appropriately, he said.

“Nigeria is leading response on Lassa fever with significant partners from WHO to find a lasting results to combating the disease,” he added.

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