31 killed in Lassa fever outbreak, says health minister

Isaac Adewole, minister of health, says the current outbreak of Lassa fever has affected 15 states with 31 deaths recorded.

Speaking at the emergency National Council of Health meeting in Abuja on Monday, he said there are now 105 laboratory-confirmed cases with three probable cases.

He said Nigeria had recorded 77 cases of Lassa fever in 2018.

Adewole listed affected states to include Bauchi, Plateau, Taraba, Nasarawa, Benue, Kogi, Ebonyi, Rivers, Imo, Anambra, Edo, Delta, Ondo, Osun and Lagos.

The minister said 10 healthcare workers were affected in four states; seven in Ebonyi, one each in Nasarawa, Kogi and Benue. Adewole said four health workers died as a result of the disease.

The minister said the meeting was convened to discuss the state of public health challenges in the country with a focus on some of the challenges that had bedevilled the nation in the past few weeks.

According to the minister, “the success against Ebola created a situation whereby every other public health challenge in Nigeria is to be seen to be a tea party.

“Therefore, assume that Lassa fever and other challenges would be likened to malaria, that they were not serious.”

The minister said Nigeria had also dealt with the resurgence of polio, and that the issuance of re-certification would be tougher than it was before.

“The international community will not come to Nigeria’s rescue or certify the country polio-free until everyone is sure that Nigeria is polio-free, and that is another health challenge,’’ Adewole said.