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Lassa fever: 3 more test positive at LUTH, 150 under watch

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LAGOS—Three persons under surveillance for Lassa fever at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, have tested positive to the disease.

This came as Lagos State Government, yesterday, urged Lagosians not to panic, saying the epidemic was near containment in the state. Also, 150 people exposed to the cases are now under surveillance.

Meanwhile, as part of efforts to contain the spread of the contagious disease, the Lagos State Government has taken over the burial of the corpse of the second index case at LUTH. Disclosing these and other developments in a joint press conference of LUTH and Lagos State Ministry of Health, the Chief Medical Director, Prof Chris Bode, explained that the current outbreak was being effectively traced in the field, adding that all persons currently exposed to the index cases were being effectively treated.

“The outbreak is under control. We have enough drugs and we have received enough assistance from partners. Let us please douse the panic created by unguarded statements and if anyone needs to make enquiries, we have already provided hotlines for this,’’ he said. Bode, who was optimistic that the outbreak would be defeated, explained that corpses of the deceased who came from neighbouring states, had been professionally managed.

He added that each of the cases had been managed in other facilities before they were referred to LUTH. He said the infected resident doctor and others that tested positive to the Lassa virus were responding to treatment. “She (the doctor) is in good state of health. Once Lassa fever is detected early and treatment initiated, there is every cause to be optimistic of recovery of the patient. ‘’We have four beds in the isolation unit which is completely self-contained and have rooms for nurses and doctors, where they can change, and they have their own toilets and bathrooms.

“It has regular supply of electricity and water, fully air conditioned and we follow international standard procedure in attending to the patients,’’ he said. While disclosing that the hospital has made necessary arrangement for additional spaces for any likely cases from within or outside the hospital, he explained that ‘workers and other people who have been exposed to the cases have been profiled.

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“All those under surveillance have been given thermometers to check their temperature in case of any unusual rise in body temperature. The LUTH workers, who came in contact directly with the first patient, were close to 100 and they were swiftly informed and each of them is still being followed up for any early signs of Lassa fever. “Of the 100, three persons, who developed symptoms tested positive and have been on admission and receiving treatment in our Isolation Ward here in LUTH.” He urged all hospitals across the state to maintain high index of suspicion and contact LUTH on 08058019466, 08058744780, 07035521015 and 08023299445.

No cause for alarm — LASG Speaking, the Director of Disease Control, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr Eniola Erinosho, who called for caution to avoid unnecessary panic over the outbreak, said the state was near containing the outbreak. According to him, the Lagos State Ministry of Health had directed its Epidemiology Unit to move into LUTH immediately it was notified about the development on August 3, 2017 in order to prevent further spread of the disease. “We are on top of the situation and there should be no panic, and again the index case mentioned was referred from Divine Grace Hospital Imota, Ikorodu area of Lagos.

We have been to Imota and have taken charge of the situation, but none of them have actually come down with the fever. “We have about 22 people there. Today is 14 days of monitoring and we hope in the next seven days, they will be discharged from monitoring list. At present, we have two cases at the Mainland Hospital but they are under control,’’ he said. “It is only when we have immediate contact that we restrict their movement. You can’t pass the virus until you show signs and symptoms.

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But when they present with high temperature we move them to isolation wards.” Erinosho disclosed further that already, the state government was taking over the 2nd corpse which was still in LUTH’s possession, since the index case had been moved to Ilesha in order to conduct the burial according to international standards. “In case of death, we use body bags and we seal the coffin and the relatives will not see the body.

From there, we have special unit in the Ministry called ‘State Environmental Monitoring Unit’ that carries out the procedure.” LUTH-ARD, NMA react Reacting to the development, President, Association of Resident Doctors, LUTH-ARD, Dr Adebayo Sekunmade, who confirmed that one of their members had tested positive to the disease, tasked management of the hospital to provide enough Personal Protective Equipment, PPE, necessary for the management of the situation. “Some resident doctors volunteered to treat those 100 people under surveillance but we want the management to handle the situation more carefully.

The volunteer resident doctors and nurses should not come to the general wards or move around the premises. “They should be appropriately monitored and also protected so as to prevent further casualties,” he noted. Reacting to the development in a telephone chat with Vanguard, Lagos State Chairman of Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, Dr Olumuyiwa Odusote, who described the situation as unfortunate, urged the federal and state governments to scale up level of emergency preparedness in order to respond swiftly in situations of outbreak. He called on the government to procure Personal Protection Equipment, PPE, in all hospitals across the country.

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“When we observe this international standard of responding to situations like this, it will reduce the chances of medical doctors and other health workers falling victim.” Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Primary Health Care, Dr. Olufemi Onanuga, in a statement issued by the LSMOH confirmed that laboratory results of the two suspected cases at the Mainland Hospital, Yaba, were negative.

Onanuga said the two patients were referred from the General Hospital, Lagos and a private hospital in Imota, Ikorodu. He called on residents to be calm and not panic, assuring them that Federal Government in active collaboration with the State Government is doing everything possible to control the spread of the Lassa Fever in Lagos State. 4 quarantined in Yobe hospital Four people are being quarantined for clinical analysis in Yobe over suspected case of Lassa fever, Dr Bello Kawuwa, the state Commissioner for Health said, yesterday.

Kawuwa told newsmen in Damaturu that seven people were initially held, but three had been discharged after clinical analysis. The commissioner said though, earlier results did not indicate that the four people have Lassa fever, a second laboratory test would be carried out on them.

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Health

53 Health Workers In Edo Infected With COVID-19

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Edo State Government on Thursday disclosed that no fewer than 53 healthcare workers have been infected with the COVID-19 virus since the federal government declared a second wave of the pandemic in December.

The State COVID-19 Incident Manager, Dr. Andrew Obi, who disclosed this during a meeting of the State Taskforce on Covid-19, chaired by Governor Godwin Obaseki, also revealed that the state had recorded eight new cases and one death in the last 24 hours and added that the government will soon roll out more measures to halt the virus’ spread.

“We have, in the last 24 hours, recorded 8 new coronavirus cases and 1 new death.

“240 samples were collected from the various screening and testing centres across the state.

“As of today, Thursday, January 14, 2021, we have 238 active cases of the virus in the state.

“Since the second wave of the deadly disease, Edo State has recorded 447 confirmed cases out of which 53 are health workers. The State has also recorded 202 recoveries and 12 deaths from the disease”, Obi submitted.

He cautioned residents to observe all precautionary measures to guard against the spread of the infectious disease, including compulsory and proper use of face masks, regular handwashing with soap under running water and the use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers, observe physical distancing measures, and limit social events.

The Incident Manager urged residents with any COVID-19 symptoms to contact the Edo Emergency Operation Centre on the toll-free number 08003625000 for assistance or their nearest health facility.

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Africa COVID-19 cases top 3 million, first wave peak surpassed

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As COVID-19 cumulative cases in Africa top 3 million and daily case numbers exceed the first wave peak, the continent is now confronted with emerging variants of the virus. Revamped public health measures are ever more critical to avert a runaway surge in infections that could stretch health facilities to the breaking point.

An average of 25, 223 cases were reported each day between 28 December 2020 and 10 January 2021 in Africa, which is nearly 39% higher than the July 2020 two-week peak of 18 104 daily average cases. Yet numbers may rise further in the coming days in the wake of travelling, gathering and festivities over Christmas and New Year holidays.

Overall cases in the region have risen steadily since mid-September 2020, with a steeper rise from late November. In addition, a new variant of the virus called 501Y.V2 is circulating widely in South Africa, accounting for most of the new infections during the second wave.

Mutations of the virus are unsurprising as the more the pandemic spreads the higher the likelihood of changes. However, preliminary analysis finds the 501Y.V2 variation to be more transmissible. Genomic sequencing has found the variant present in Botswana, the Gambia and Zambia.

Deeper investigations are underway to fully understand the epidemiological implications, but at present there are no indications the new variant increases the severity of the disease.

“Even if the new variant is not more virulent, a virus that can spread more easily will put further strain on hospitals and health workers who are in many cases already overstretched,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa. “This is a stark reminder that the virus is relentless, that it still presents a manifest threat, and that our war is far from won.”

Nigeria is also carrying out more investigations on a variant identified in samples collected in August and October. While for now there are no reports of the COVID-19 variant circulating in the United Kingdom cropping up in the African region, further investigation is needed.

With WHO support, African countries are reinforcing genome sequencing efforts, which are key to finding and understanding new variants as they emerge and to help blunt their impact.

WHO and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention network of genome sequencing laboratories in Africa is supporting governments with training and data analysis on genome sequencing, bioinformatics and technical expertise. WHO has also developed guidance on containing new variants and is assisting countries to manage and safely transport samples for sequencing and analysis.

While much progress is being made in building genome sequencing capacity, the more than 5000 sequences which have been conducted so far in the region account for just 2% of global sequencing data.

“We call on all countries to increase testing and sequencing of the virus to swiftly spot, track and tackle new COVID-19 variants as soon as they appear. To defeat an agile, adaptive and relentless enemy, we must know and understand its every move, and double down on what we know works best against all variants of the virus,” said Dr Moeti.

“We must not become complacent. We must persist with the proven public health measures that helped stop the spread of the virus during the first wave – that’s physical distancing, constant handwashing and wearing masks in public spaces.”

Dr Moeti spoke during a virtual press conference today facilitated by APO Group. She was joined by Prof Francisca Mutapi, Professor in Global Health Infection and Immunity, University of Edinburgh, UK, and Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

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Nigerian researchers call for tobacco tax increase to reduce fatality rate

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Some researchers have said that 23,838 deaths and 602,325 DALYs from smoking attributable diseases would be averted in 10 years if the price of tobacco cigarettes was raised by 75 percent as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

They gave their separate submissions on Wednesday during a Report Dissemination Workshop on Illicit Tobacco Trade in Nigeria held at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan.

The workshop was organised by the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA).

Dr Adedeji Adeniran, a Senior Research Fellow at CSEA, called on the government to think deeply around tobacco taxation and other tobacco control policies towards reducing its burden as well as havoc

Adeniran, who presented the report of a research on ‘Health Burden and Economic Costs of Tobacco Smoking in Nigeria said the country expended more on tobacco attributable diseases than it earned from it.

“In Nigeria on a per annum basis, we spend, in terms of cost basis, more than 500 billion naira on tobacco attributable diseases.

“And if we look at what we are benefitting, it is not in anyway going to approach that.

“This exercise we are doing today in Ibadan, we are trying to talk directly to the public and we are also trying to talk to the government about what the costs are.

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“And in this case, we want government to think more deeply around tobacco taxation and other tobacco control policies,” he said.

Corroborating him,  Mr. Iraoya Augustine, a Research Associate from CSEA, said that illicit trade in terms of tobacco trade was rampant in Nigeria, saying the most effective mechanism to address it is to increase taxes.

According to him, “Illicit trade is rampant in Nigeria especially in terms of tobacco trade. Presently, Nigeria is using a tax rate which is far below the recommended rate of 75 percent.

“And we have discovered that one of the most effective mechanism of addressing illicit trade according to the World Health Organisation framework is to increase taxes”.

Augustine said that revelations from their research revealed that death rate, cancer and rate of contracting disease would be reduced if tax rate was increased by 25 percent.

“let’s talk about increasing it to 50 percent or 75 percent, you will discover that the issues, the economic burden and the health burden of illicit tobacco trade and smoking in Nigeria will be greatly reduced.”

Also commenting, Dr Adeniyi Olabumuyi from University of Ibadan, said there was need for improvement on the nation’s data gathering and recording system.

“I think the economic impact in terms of what the economy has to pay is been underestimated.

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“Government should tax those products so that they can save some part of that tax. That will now be involved in having to manage health-related issues that comes from indulging in such,” he submitted.

He said that tobacco and alcohol ought to carry luxury tax like it was in the developed countries.

Participants at the workshop supported the need for all stakeholders including government to take action towards reduction of smoking attributable diseases.

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