LASSA FEVER DEADLIER THAN CORONAVIRUS, NCDC BOSS TELLS HOUSE OF REPS

Director General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu said on Tuesday that despite global concern over the outbreak of corona virus, the disease was not as deadly as the media has painted it, insisting that Lassa fever was more deadly than the corona virus.
Dr. Ihekweazu who address members of the House of Representatives Committee on Health Services also said that the disease which was discovered in China has spread to about 23 countries across the globe, saying however that there was no need for travel restriction to and from China.
He told the lawmakers that the nation was faced with a more deadly disease in Lassa fever than the incidences of corona virus which is a global disease has far less effect than lassa fever.
He said so far, about 364 cases of lassa fever has been identified across 23 in the country with 47 death, adding that there might be more of such cases as a result of environmental issues in the country.
The Director General said that about one percent of those affected by corona virus has actually died of the ailment, adding that those who died of the virus have either been aged people or those with health related issues.
He said human to human transmission of the ailment has been reported in only three countries outside China, adding that there has been a coordinated international response to the disease, stressing that the World Health Organisation has warned against imposing travel and business restriction against China because of the outbreak of the disease.
He said further that the best way to prevent any virus from spreading is to prevent it from the source, adding that China has been very proactive in dealing with the disease, including building a hospital within 10 days.
He said the Nigerian government has put in place measures to identify cases of the virus, adding that airport authorities and other relevant agencies of government have intensify screening, while the centre has also intensify media advocacy.
He said Nigeria now has the ability to confirm cases of corona virus, but stressed that the Centre was over burdened by cases of Lassa fever with a staff strength of only 250 personnel.
Speaking on Lassa fever, the Director General said at the moment, there were no vaccine for the control of lassa fever, but was quick to add that the Centre is working with some development partners to develop a vaccine for Lassa fever, adding that the vaccine will soon go into phase one of its testing stage.
He said that the Centre has asked state governments across the country to develop response centres in their state capital, adding that the Centre cannot control the spread of Lassa fever with the current facilities at its disposal.
He said lassa fever was an endemic disease in the country, adding that as long as Nigerians dont evacuate their waste very well, they will always attract rats to their homes which is the cause of lassa fever.
He said the care centres in Edo, Ondo and Ebonyi were over stretched a they were filled wo capacity, adding that at the moment, they have only five test centres across the country.
But Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila who was part of the briefing was not convinced about the submission that the disease was not as deadly as being painted in the media.
He asked the Centre Director whether they were prepared to travel to China to attend to Nigerians there since they were convinced that the corona virus was not deadly.
Dr. Ihekweazu told the Speaker and members that it was their job and if the government decide that they go to China, they will do so, adding that the Nigerian Ambassador in China has told the government that there was no Nigerian interested in returning home as a result of the virus outbreak.
The Speaker however warned that because of the existence of Lassa fever in the country, the issue of corona virus should not be downplayed even though it was not as deadly as lassa fever.
Chairman of the House Committee on Health Services, Rep. Yusuf Tanko Sununu said that corona virus was attracting global concern at the moment because the course was not known and the mode of spreading was also not known.
He said the virus also have economic implications, stressing that no matter how secured one might be, no one can say how it is transmitted and therefore should not be downplayed.