• Assures public of safety measures

BY UBON EKANEM, CALABAR – Disturbed by public anxiety over widespread reports of Lassa fever outbreak in some parts of the country, the Cross River State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Beta Edu, has allayed fears of a possible epidemic outbreak in the state

She also assured that there is no cause for alarm or panic among members of the public as no confirmed case of Lassa fever has been reported or detected in the state.

Fielding questions from newsmen in Calabar, the Cross River capital, Dr Edu said the State government, through the ministry, has commenced intensive state wide sensitization campaign against Lassa fever to promote awareness among the people on possible signs to look out for and preventive measures to be adopted.

According to the Health Commissioner, the Government has taken proactive measures by setting up Emergency Response Centres, including provision of safety materials and drugs for health workers who have been enlightened on the need to develop a high index of suspicion against Lassa fever by looking out for patience with cases of prolonged fever that is unyielding to various Malaria tests and treatments.

She therefore urged members of the public to avoid contact with rodents (rats) identified as the animals that carry the Lassa fever virus, adding that preventive measures include being careful as not to step on rat’s feaces, urine or blood.

The Commissioner also cautioned the public to desist from the perennial traditional practice of bush burning for farming becsuse development usually dislodge the rodents from their safe havens and they would naturally look for alternative habitats by relocating from the bushes to nearby houses.

On preventive measures against the deadly disease, Dr Edu harped on the importance of maintaining clean environment as well as improving on personal hygiene by individuals

“Also, people who experience joint pains, muscular pains, bleeding from the nose, and high fever should report immediately to nearby health facility for urgent medical attention”, she said

However, despite these assurances from the government circles, there are mounting worries that the level of official preparedness for any emergency remains suspect because the Isolation Centre located within the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) is yet to be completed more than three years after the project began in 2016

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