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EU Pledge N32m to Nigeria Red Cross to Curb Lassa Fever Spread
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EU Pledge N32m to Nigeria Red Cross to Curb Lassa Fever Spread

The European Union (EU) says it would assist the Nigeria Red Cross with a total of N32 million ($87,624 dollars) humanitarian aid to help curb the spread of Lassa fever.

The EU said in a Press Statement Wednesday that the fund, which would not go through the Nigerian government, would be used to assist families affected by the current Lassa Fever outbreak in Nigeria.

Specifically, the fund will directly benefit communities in areas most affected by the outbreak as it would be used to support the Nigerian Red Cross in promoting hygiene practices and disease transmission control, contributing to the identification of suspected cases, supporting contact tracing, and providing psychosocial support.

The statement said that the funding forms part of the EU’s overall contribution to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

“In the two most affected States, Ondo and Edo, the main actions will focus on health education on signs and symptoms, prevention measure and behavioral change in food storage and handling; pest control activities, such as the distribution of rat traps/rat glues; and psychosocial support to affected people and their families.

In another four States (Bauchi, Ebonyi, Taraba and Kano), awareness raising initiatives will be launched for the general public, including the distribution of educational material and informative radio messages,” the EU statement said.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says that a total of 103 people have died of Lassa fever since its outbreak last December 30.

The figure is from 16 States, namely: Ondo, Edo, Ebonyi, Kano, Kogi, Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau, Bauchi, Enugu, Abia, Benue, Borno, Gombe, Sokoto and Katsina.

However, the number of confirmed cases this year stands at 586, NCDC said.

The report released in Abuja said that Edo State in Niger Delta region has the highest burden of confirmed cases at 35 per cent, followed by Ondo (Southwest Nigeria) at 32 per cent, and Ebonyi (Southeast) at six per cent.

In total for this year, 26 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 101 local government areas.

The report says: “Cumulatively from week one to week 07, 2020, 103 deaths have been reported with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 17.6 per cent which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2019 (21.1 per cent). The predominant age group affected is 21-30 years (range: <1 to 78 years, median age: 33 years). The male to female ratio for confirmed cases is 1:1.2. The number of suspected cases has significantly increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2019.”

The report adds that two new healthcare workers were affected in Bauchi and Katsina states in reporting week 07.

The Lagos State Government on Thursday confirmed a case of Lassa fever outbreak in the State, saying the patient has been isolated.

Health Commissioner Prof. Akin Abayomi said in a statement that the patient was in isolation ward at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba.

He said the government, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and the NCDC, was working to stem the spread of the disease.

“The Ministry of Health, through Epidemiology, Biosecurity and Global Health Directorate, is carrying out ‘contact tracing’ to determine those who may have been infected in line with the international standards, while we beef up our other surveillance strategies,” Abayomi said.

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