The Federal Government has declared that by April this year, Lassa fever will “become history.”
The government, which expressed optimism that the disease would be completely flushed out in April, also confirmed that it had placed the family that was visited by a victim in the Kubwa community of Abuja and an official of the Kubwa hospital, where he was treated, under surveillance.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said this in an interview in Abuja, on Wednesday.
According to him, no patient would be allowed to visit the hospital where the victim had been admitted before he was taken to the National Hospital, Abuja, because efforts were afoot to sanitise the hospital.
The victim, a newly-wed 33-year-old man, lived in Jos, Plateau State, but came to see a family member in Kubwa because of his illness.
He, however, died within 24 hours of being admitted into the National Hospital from the Kubwa-based hospital.
The minister said:
We want to assure Nigerians that Lassa fever will soon become a thing of the past. It will become history in Nigeria. Ordinarily, Lassa fever will be eradicated from Nigeria in April. But if we do nothing, it will come back by August. So, we will make sure that we work all-year round to make sure that there is no resurgence in August.
Our target is to eradicate it in April. Even if we have one or two cases, we will treat them early because all our antennae will be out to treat any case.
Not just the families that the patient visited in Kubwa but also those who treated him (have been placed under surveillance). We are working on that, we don’t want to frighten anybody. But I can assure you that our officials are all over the place to make sure that we place them under surveillance. It is all in their interest, not that we want to frighten them.
Asked if there were plans to shut down the whole of the hospital, the minister said:
When you say shut down, we don’t want to physically shut down the place. But when the hospital is under surveillance, no patient will be allowed to go there until we declare the place safe and that is the situation in the Kubwa hospital.
The minister added that the ward in the National Hospital where the patient was admitted and the mortuary where he was kept had also been decontaminated.