No fewer than 212 suspected cases of Lassa fever have been reported in 64 Local government areas across 17 states in Nigeria—thanks to the spiral of silence encircling the outbreak of the virus.
Health Minister (Prof) Isaac Adewole said this at an emergency meeting with health commissioners yesterday in Abuja.
The purpose of the meeting was to facilitate discussion on control of the ongoing disease outbreak, and to develop strategies of prevention and management of all cases in Nigeria.
Describing the epidemic as a national embarrassment, Adewole said, “There is a high level of denial and a conspiracy of silence in some of our states. I think people take delight in saying we have no case and to me that is not the issue.”
While he agreed Nigeria can still save face at this moment, he said the best thing is to stamp out the virus in Nigeria.
He also warned healthcare managers to not deceive the politicians by telling them all is well. “All states should consider themselves at risk.”
According to him, Niger, Bauchi, Taraba, Kano, Edo, Nasarawa, Plateau and Rivers are the high-risk states, but all states should put up mitigation measures, and reassure the community that the authorities are working.
Lassa fever is among the hemorrhagic fevers caused by a multi-breasted species of rats. And the virus, first detected at Lassa, Borno, has been plaguing Nigeria and Guinea for over a decade.
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