Nigeria Battles Lassa Fever As Coronavirus Spreads Globally

Lassa fever public health advisory.

The last 13 weeks have seen the world combating the Covid-19 (coronavirus) plague which has now been reported in every continent except Antarctica.

As at Saturday, over 100,000 people have been infected with the disease, with over 3,000 deaths recorded. More countries reported cases of the disease last week.

While Nigeria still has just a case of COVID-19, it is still battling with a Lassa fever outbreak that has caused over a hundred deaths since the beginning of the year.

Here is a round up of some of the stories which made the headlines during the week.

Lassa Fever: Death rises to 41 in Ondo

Lassa fever virus has now been confirmed in five more local governments of Ondo State.

The death toll of the disease in the state has also increased from 22 by week five to 41 at week 10, the Ondo State Centre for Disease Control confirmed.

The new local government areas that have reported the disease are Ile Oluji/Okeigbo, Idanre, Ifedore, Akoko North East and Ondo West.

The disease had earlier been reported in Owo, Ose, Akure North, Akoko South West and Akure South.

Portugal brings down obesity by taxing sugary drinks

Portugal has recorded some success in tackling childhood obesity - one of the main health challenges in the WHO European Region - with their sugary drinks tax.

The World Health Organisation said in Portugal, the combination of unhealthy diets and a rise in sedentary lifestyles has precipitated a public health struggle with childhood obesity.

Portugal in January 2017 introduced a sugar taxation and many companies have radically reduced the amount of sugar in their products and sales of sugary drinks have fallen overall.

Coronavirus: Shortage of personal protective equipment endangering health workers worldwide

The World Health Organisation has called on industry and governments to increase manufacturing of personal protective equipment (PPE) by 40 per cent to meet rising global demand.

The UN health agency warned that severe and mounting disruption to the global supply of PPE - caused by rising demand, panic buying, hoarding and misuse - is putting lives at risk from the new coronavirus and other infectious diseases.

Healthcare workers rely on personal protective equipment to protect themselves and their patients from being infected and infecting others.

But shortages are leaving doctors, nurses and other frontline workers dangerously ill-equipped to care for COVID-19 patients, due to limited access to supplies such as gloves, medical masks, respirators, goggles, face shields, gowns and aprons.

UN releases $15 million to help vulnerable countries battle coronavirus

UN Humanitarian Chief, Mark Lowcock, released $15 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to help fund global efforts to contain the COVID-19 virus.

The announcement came as the World Health Organisation (WHO) upgraded the global risk of the coronavirus outbreak to "very high" - its top level of risk assessment. The WHO has said there is still a chance of containing the virus if its chain of transmission is broken.

The sudden increases of cases in Italy, Iran and South Korea are deeply concerning. There are now cases linked to Iran in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait and Oman, along with cases linked to Italy in Algeria, Austria, Croatia, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and Nigeria.

Expert calls for ban on child marriage in Nigeria

The President of the Association for Reproductive and Family Health, Oladepo Ladipo, has called for a ban on child marriage in Nigeria to reduce complications arising from childbirth by children, such as vesicovaginal fistula (VVF).

Mr Ladipo, who is an obstetrics and gynaecology expert, said child marriage contributes to the high maternal mortality rate in the country.

Mr Ladipo said high maternal death rate should be recognised as an emergency by all levels of government in Nigeria.

Coronavirus In Nigeria: Lafarge apologises

Khaled El Dokani, the country Chief Executive Officer of Lafarge Africa in Nigeria, has apologised for the company's role in admitting the deadly coronavirus into Nigeria.

Nigeria recorded its first case of coronavirus after an Italian who arrived the country tested positive to the virus, the Federal Ministry of Health said last week. The Italian entered Nigeria on February 25 from Milan, Italy, for a brief business visit. He fell ill on February 26 and was transferred to Lagos State Biosecurity Facilities for isolation and testing.

The Italian had earlier visited Ewekoro community in Ewekoro Local Government Area of Ogun State for a business transaction with Lafarge.

Women and girls still vulnerable to HIV due to gender inequality: UNAIDS

Gender discrimination and violence, as well as "huge" gaps in education, are among the reasons why women and girls remain vulnerable to HIV, the UN agency working to end the AIDS epidemic has said.

In a report launched on Thursday, UNAIDS noted that almost 40 years into the fight, AIDS is still the leading cause of death for women aged 15 to 49 years, with roughly 6,000 young women aged between 15 and 24 acquiring HIV every week.

The Executive Director UNAIDS,Winnie Byanyima, said HIV epidemic holds a mirror up to the inequalities and injustices faced by women and girls and how the gaps in rights and services are exacerbating the epidemic".

The report calls on governments to do more to empower women and girls and fulfil their human rights.

Congo to quarantine visitors from four virus-affected nations

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will quarantine travellers arriving from Italy, France, China and Germany as these are places where the coronavirus spread is "epidemic," Health Minister Eteni Longondo said.

Travellers that arrive in Congo from the four countries with no signs of coronavirus face home quarantine for 14 days, according to Longondo.

Anyone with symptoms replicating the virus "will be transferred to an isolation site" controlled by the health ministry, the official wrote in letters to the nation's embassies, which were seen by Bloomberg News and confirmed by Longondo.

Pompeo 'confident' US will handle coronavirus well

The U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said Friday that he was "confident" that the United States would handle the novel coronavirus "better than any nation in the world" as the Trump administration has been under scrutiny for its initial handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Pompeo voiced the optimism during an interview with CNBC, in response to a question about whether the US could have as successful a response as China without interfering with people's civil liberties. China imposed severe restrictions on travel in an effort to contain the virus.

"I'm confident we can handle it here. I'm confident we'll handle it better than any nation in the world," Mr Pompeo said.

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