Nigeria: Amidst Coronavirus Pandemic, Lassa Fever Claims Lives in Ondo

Lassa fever public health advisory.

Although it is yet to record any positive case for the dreaded <a target="_blank" href="https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public">coronavirus</a>, Ondo State has continued to suffer losses from Lassa Fever infections.

In March, five more persons lost their lives as a result of the infection, which officials say is still very much endemic in the state.

The death toll had previously risen from 22 to 41.

According to the state's Epidemiologist, Stephen Fagbemi, the virus "is still very much with us."

He said the cases have dropped so far as the raining season sets in, with fewer cases now reported.

He said within the month of March about 65 cases were reported, which showed a decline in the number of cases earlier reported.

"We still have Lassa cases," said Mr Fagbemi. "You know we are getting into the rains and we can say this month is not as bad as last month, we thank God for that. But we still have cases. We had about 65 cases in Ondo State in March."

He said the number of deaths had risen to about 46 deaths making the state "the leader in terms of the number of deaths from the disease".

"The coronavirus seems to have taken over everything," he said. "We hope that the personal hygiene of hand washing and other measures will also help in curbing the Lassa virus.

"At least for now, nobody is going out, nobody is sun drying garri and other nasty habits. There are some improvements."

Coronavirus

On coronavirus, the epidemiologist said it was better for the citizens to heed the stay at home order as an outbreak of a high magnitude could be disastrous.

"Please help us to say Lassa virus is still with us; help us to tell Nigerians to stay at home. It is like the message is not sinking. We don't have to wait until deaths happen before we act, " Mr Fagbemi said.

"We don't have the resources to take care of many cases of coronavirus. If we have 300 to 400 cases (coronavirus), do you think we will be able to handle that. Let people just stay at home."

Lassa fever cases were earlier confirmed in five more local governments of Ile Oluji/Okeigbo, Idanre, Ifedore, Akoko North East, and Ondo West local government areas.

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

Despite the over 300 cases confirmed, about 230 persons have been treated and discharged, while some others are still receiving treatment.

Mr Fagbemi had blamed the deaths on their late arrival at the treatment centre.

The Federal Medical Centre, Owo provides the treatment centre for all cases in the state.

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