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COVID-19: Nigeria to screen arriving passengers using RTD

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The Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) has said it will screen passengers coming into the country, using Rapid Diagnostic Test (RTD).

Dr Geoffrey Okatubo, Director, Port Health Services, said this on Monday in Abuja, during the Ministerial bi-weekly meeting on the update of COVID-19 response and developments in the country’s health sector.

Okatubo said positive cases would be quarantined and all negative cases would be monitored.

He said the federal government was undertaking other measures as well to keep the coronavirus situation under control.

“COVID-19 self-tests (RTD) will be handed out at all our international airports, land and sea borders, while travellers will also be informed on the importance of measures that they can take to prevent being infected,” he said.

He acknowledged that some people had experienced difficulties with the travel portal, noting that the health declaration certificate could also be filled out on arrival.

He said the health certificate form was also available at the country’s land borders, and that it was compulsory.

“The health declaration is being done by the Port Health officers at the border,” he said.

He said completing the health declaration was good for the country if the citizens understood the advantages, part of which he said was to protect everyone, and was also an international health regulation.

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Meningitis plague hits Yobe, kill 20 students

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A viral disease, Meningitis, has hit Yobe state leaving at least 20 students dead.

This was disclosed by the State’s Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Dr. Muhammad Sani Idris, who confirmed the outbreak, saying 20 students were killed by the disease suspected to be meningitis.

The students were boarding public schools in Potiskum, Fika, and Fune local government areas of Yobe State.

It was learnt that the deaths were recorded in Government Science Technical College, Government Girls Science Technical College, and Federal Government Girls College, all in Potiskum LG.

Commenting, the Commissioner said Governor Mai Mala Buni had directed the state Ministry of Education to temporarily relocate to Potiskum in response to the outbreak.

The commissioner also confirmed that several students had been admitted to Potiskum Specialist Hospital.

He said, “This disease is from God and you can’t run away from it once it comes, but we must wake up to fight this outbreak to curtail it from spreading to other areas. After this outbreak hit the Government Science Technical College Potiskum and other two secondary schools, I as Commissioner, my Permanent Secretary, and the Executive Secretary of the state’s Science Technical Board as well as the chairman of the Teaching Service Board have been relocated to Potiskum temporarily.

“I had a meeting with the principals of these three secondary schools to join hands together and fight this disease. We have parked out ambulances in all these schools for emergency cases. We also assigned three teachers to work for three hours in the classes checking the conditions of these students who are not affected.

“After three hours another three teachers will take over from them checking the health condition of these unaffected students asking them if they are not feeling fine or have new reactions in their bodies. We are doing this 24-hour service as proactive measures to ensure that we curtail this disease.

“At least 17 students have died in two secondary schools belonging to Yobe state government while one lady from the Federal Government Girls College also died as a result of this disease.

“I cannot give you the number of the affected students now because there are students who are in isolation centres in their schools. We also have some students who are currently receiving treatment in the hospital due to their health condition.

“We received a report that this disease has spread to some schools in Fika and Fune LGAs but so far we have a record of 20 students who died in both primary and secondary schools in the state after finding new cases in Gadaka and Jajere villages who are under Fika and Fune LGAs.

“His Excellency, Governor Mai Mala Buni had directed the Ministry of Health to send their medical team (doctors and technicians) to investigate the cause of this outbreak and provide drugs and other medication. We thank God they (students) are doing well, we are hoping that things will get better.”

He further emphasised the importance of ensuring the well-being of all students and finding effective remedies for those affected, stressing the establishment of temporary isolation centres in schools to provide students with first aid treatment.

“We have temporarily relocated to Potiskum until all the students are in good health. We established temporary isolation centres. Ensuring their well-being is our responsibility. So we will not relent in providing all the necessary support,” he said.

Meningitis is an inflammation (swelling) of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. A bacterial or viral infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord usually causes the swelling. However, injuries, cancer, certain drugs, and other types of infections also can cause meningitis. It is important to know the specific cause of meningitis because the treatment differs depending on the cause.

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We are aware of Lassa Fever outbreak in Kaduna State – NCDC boss

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Dr Jide Idris, Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), has officially acknowledged the outbreak of Lassa fever in Kaduna State.

Speaking to newsmen on Friday in Abuja, Idris confirmed that the NCDC was closely monitoring the situation and working in collaboration with state health authorities to contain the spread of the disease.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NCDC) reports that Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic (excessive bleeding) illness that is transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated by infected rodents or contaminated persons.

Its symptoms include fever, headache, sore throat, general body weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pains, chest pain, and in severe cases, unexplainable bleeding from ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and other body openings.

Idris said “the NCDC was notified yesterday by the Kaduna State Ministry of Health of the report of deaths from suspected viral hemorrhagic fever at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital in Kaduna.

“Following this notification, the centre has been working with both institutions to conduct comprehensive investigation of the suspected cases, as well as ramp up response activities.

“Four of the six blood samples from suspected cases sent to the Bayero University Teaching Hospital in Kano have been confirmed for Lassa fever. Furthermore, twenty-five close contacts of all these cases are now under follow-up and placed on prophylactic medicine.

“The state’s Ministry of Health has also activated the Incident Management System with all the response pillars including intensified risk communication and community engagement for the prevention and control of Lassa fever in the affected communities.”

According to him, the NCDC has dispatched rapid response teams to the affected areas in Kaduna State to conduct epidemiological investigations and implement necessary control measures.

He emphasised the importance of early detection, prompt treatment, and community engagement in curbing the spread of the disease.

“Lassa fever is a viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus, which is transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated with rodent urine or faeces.

“The disease is endemic in Nigeria, with sporadic outbreaks occurring primarily during the dry season,” he said.

He urged healthcare workers and the public to maintain strict hygiene practices, including proper food storage and disposal of waste, to reduce the risk of Lassa fever transmission.

He also advised individuals experiencing symptoms such as fever, headache, sore throat, and muscle aches to seek medical attention immediately, as early diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve outcomes.

The NCDC DG reassured the public that the agency was committed to containing the outbreak and protecting the health of Nigerians.

He urged citizens to remain vigilant and report any suspected cases to the nearest health facility or state health authorities for prompt response.

“As the situation develops, the NCDC will continue to provide updates and guidance to the public to ensure effective control and prevention of Lassa fever in Kaduna State and across Nigeria,” he said.

According to him, as of Feb. 18, 2024 (end of week 7), 84 local government areas in 23 states of the country have reported a total of 2,621 suspected cases, 476 confirmed, and 84 deaths with a case fatality rate of 18.6 per cent.

“Our condolences go to the families and friends of those (including the health workers) who lost their lives to this disease across the country,” he said.

He added that the agency, through the recently activated multi-sectoral multi-disciplinary Incident Management System has taken the following actions:

“Distribution of medical supplies for case management, infection prevention and control, laboratory diagnosis, in all  Lassa fever treatment centres in the country.

“capacity building exercises of some healthcare workers across all the geopolitical zones on Lassa fever preparedness, readiness, and response through the pilot Lassa fever clinical management fellowship.

“Distribution of Lassa fever social and behaviour change communication (SBC) materials to all the 36 states and FCT,” he explained.

He called for a holistic approach to addressing public health challenges in the country, saying “we will be introducing a significant perspective on tackling complex public health issues in the country.”

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Commission pledges accessible, affordable, safe blood for Nigerians in need

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The National Blood Service Commission (NBSC) has pledged to ensure the provision of accessible, affordable and safe blood supply for all Nigerians in need.

The newly appointed Director-General of the commission, Prof. Saleh Yuguda, made the pledge while assuming office in Abuja on Friday.

He emphasised the commission’s pivotal role of providing safe and affordable blood to citizens, in line with President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda.

He added that “in line with our commitment to serve the Nigerian populace, it is imperative that blood is accessible to every individual in need, without financial strain.”

The NBSC boss also reiterated the commission’s mandate to save lives, alleviate sufferings, and promote wellness.

He emphasised robust governance and optimum blood supply chain to enhance the quality of Nigeria’s healthcare system.

On his part, the NBSC Head of Media and Publicity, Haruna Abdullahi, described the appointment of the new director-general as sign of renewed focus toward affordable blood services nationwide.

He said “the agenda set forth by Prof. Yuguda aligns with the mandate of the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Ali Pate.

“This will enhance access to safe blood and blood products nationwide, reflecting a unified effort toward achieving equitable services for all Nigerians.”

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