The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has activated the national multisectoral Emergency Operations Centre for Lassa Fever to coordinate and strengthen ongoing response activities in the country. This is even as it disclosed that the number of Lassa fever confirmed cases has risen to 244 with 37 deaths. The Lassa fever Emergency Operations Centre was activated following the outcome of a risk assessment that placed Nigeria at a very high risk of increased Lassa fever transmission. The assessment showed an unprecedented upward trend in the number of confirmed cases being reported compared to previous years, an increased number of states reporting cases in comparison to previous years, and an increased risk of healthcare worker infections and deaths due to Lassa fever infection. Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus. The natural reservoir for the virus is the Mastomys natalensis rodent (commonly known as the multimammate rat or the African rat). Other rodents can also be carriers of the virus. In a press statement signed by the Director General of the NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, on Monday, the agency said the purpose of the activation of the EOC was to achieve a coordinated national response and especially across the affected states to interrupt disease transmission, reduce the impact of the disease by reducing suffering and death, and other socioeconomic complications of this disease. The statement read in part, “The LF-EOC was activated following a risk assessment carried out on January 20, 2023, by subject matter experts from the NCDC, relevant Ministries, Departments, Agencies, stakeholders, and major partners. The outcome of the risk assessment placed the country at a very high risk of increased Lassa fever transmission.“The situation report of January 22, 2023, showed a total of 244 confirmed cases with 37 deaths and a case fatality rate of 15.1 % from 16 states and the FCT – Ondo (90), Edo (89), Bauchi (13), Taraba (10), Benue (9), Ebonyi (9), Nasarawa (7), Plateau (5), Kogi (4), Anambra (2), Delta (1), Oyo (1), Adamawa (1), Enugu (1), Imo (1), and FCT (1).“Infection and death among the healthcare workers accounted for five and one of the confirmed cases and deaths respectively highlighting the need for an increased index of suspicion among healthcare workers.“Healthcare is a collective responsibility of communities and governments at all levels. While the NCDC is mandated to lead the prevention, emergency preparedness, and response to public health emergencies, we rely on the cooperation and support of States in the development and implementation of evidence-driven outbreak response plans for their territories.”It noted that before the activation of EOC, the Nigerian government through the NCDC’s multisectoral Lassa Fever Technical Working Group had put measures in place to respond to the rising cases of Lassa fever. It added that the government had repositioned medicines and commodities to support Lassa fever response management, and deployed the national rapid response teams to hotspot states to support contact tracing, case management, risk communication, and community engagement, among others.

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