WHO sustains Lassa fever response as number of new cases reduce

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The World Health Organization (WHO) says intensified response activities are still on-going to control the outbreak of Lassa fever across Nigeria.

The health agency had mobilised its health staff in affected areas since the outbreak and says it remains committed to supporting Nigeria in further stemming the spread of the disease.

According to an influential leader of Etsako East,  Mr John Onyene of Edo State, one of the worst hit areas, the WHO has sustained its sensitisation programmes despite the reduction in number of new cases

‘‘I am impressed with the continued sensitization and follow up visits by WHO personnel to ensure that our people are not infected”, says Mr John Onyene of Edo State’’.

He said through the sensitization activities, communities are encouraged to remain vigilant and report any rumour to the nearest health facility because early diagnosis and treatment can save lives.

Over the past weeks, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had reported a decrease in the number of new Lassa fever cases in Nigeria.

In the week 18-24 February 2019, twenty-three new confirmed cases were reported from eight States compared with up to 80 new cases reported between 21-27 January 2019.

In total, 381 confirmed cases and 81 deaths were reported between 01 January and 24 February 2019 from 21 States across 66 Local Government Areas(LGA)

Despite the decrease in cases across board, the WHO says available several States reported more cases in 2019 than in previous outbreaks.

As at 24 February, Bauchi, Gombe and Taraba have notably reported more cases (29, 24 and 03 cases respectively) than in 2018 during the worst Lassa fever outbreak to date.

The agency says it is helping affected states by strengthening their capacity to conduct disease surveillance, treat patients, implement infection prevention and control measures, laboratory diagnostics and engaging with communities.

The WHO Officer-in-Charge (OiC) for Nigeria, Dr Clement Peter, said “We welcome this recent evolution of the outbreak and the decrease in the number of new cases reported. However, this is no time to lower our guards. We must remain resolute and continue our intensified response to the current outbreak,”.

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