By Maryam Garba Hassan
Minister of health Dr. Isecc Adewole has said the country is gradually winning the war on the outbreak of Lassa fever epidemic recorded in three states some months ago.
The minister made the disclosure yesterday in Abuja at the office of the Secretary to the government of the federation during a meeting between the Secretary and stakeholders on Lassa fever.
The meeting was coming a day after a media publication on the alleged plan by the Saudi authority to block Nigeria’s 95,000 pilgrims from performing this year’s hajj following reports on cases of Lassa fever epidemic in the country.
The minister said the meeting was imperative to clear the misconception the general public have on the level of federal government’s commitment on the fight against the disease and its further spread.
He said the gathering was also to discuss the issue as it can affect the 2018 hajj operations.
He said from January to date 413 cases were confirmed, 105 deaths recorded while only 1 case was recorded on 22 of this month which was the only case confirmed this week and the lowest number recorded this year.
He said to combat the epidemic; health care facilities need to be strengthen for people to report early.
He said even with the achievements recorded in combating the epidemic the ministry of health and other relevant bodies will not rest until the country is declared free of Lassa fever.
He said every Nigeria’s pilgrim with fever must be examined at the airport where there are machines checking body temperature at security checks adding that one case cannot make Nigeria a global threat.
He said the experience of ministry of health over the years has made its trained health workers not to relent and called on states that have not recorded any case of the epidemic not to relent in snipping around for any rumor or suspected case and urged them to act fast.
In his remarks, Chairman, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, Barr. Abdullahi Muktar, said the Saudi Ministry of Health and the Nigerian government has map out precautionary measures to prevent transporting the disease to Saudi.
He said part of the precautionary measure is to ensure that no Nigerian pilgrim travels with any item that can transfer Lassa fever to the holy land adding that the precautionary measures put in place will start from Nigeria to the entry of the Saudi Airport during umrah and hajj.
He said the Commission will do all it can to make Saudi authority comfortable with Nigerian pilgrims and assured the country’s intending pilgrims that they will perform this year’s hajj comfortably and confidently.
It would be recalled that the disease was recorded in Owo, in Ondo, Edo and Ebonyi states respectively.