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The confirmed cases from the Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria has increased to 472 as 53 new cases were reported for week 10.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control in its weekly situation update for the reporting week (March 4 to 10) said the 53 new confirmed cases were reported from eight states, Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Plateau, Taraba and Delta.

Also, 11 deaths were reported for same week in Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi and Nasarawa States.

This increases the death toll of the disease since the outbreak began this year, to 110.

The sudden surge in the number of confirmed cases in the reporting week negates the claim by NCDC which said there has been a gradual decline in the outbreak for this year.

Nigeria, since January 21, had declared an outbreak of Lassa fever in the country.

The reported surge in the number of confirmed cases this week is coming some weeks after the NCDC’s claim that there has been a gradual decline in the outbreak since inception.

There has been a spike in the number of new confirmed cases in the last two weeks, as compared to the previous four consecutive weeks.

The reported confirmed cases for week 10 are the fourth largest confirmed cases from the disease since the outbreak this year.

The Director General NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, had said there has been a steady decline in the number of confirmed cases in the disease for this year. This, he compared, to the 2018 outbreak where Nigeria recorded its highest number of disease burden in the last 50 years.

Mr Ihekweazu had said in a press briefing last week, that new Lassa fever cases are on a decline in states battling to control the spread of the disease.

He also said the country had witnessed a reduction in the number of people who died from the disease compared to 2018. This he said was due to the effort of the health agency and its partners who had continued to sustain response activities in the states across the country.

However, the effort seems to have paid off as no new case of health care workers getting infected with the disease have been reported in the past few weeks.

Mr Ihekweazu listed several measures it has in place for the prevention and control of the Lassa fever outbreak.

Among them, NCDC identified ‘contact tracing’ as crucial in curtailing the spread of the deadly disease. This, he said has been yielding positive results.

So far, a total of fifteen health care workers have been infected since the onset of the outbreak in seven States – Edo (7), Ondo (3), Ebonyi (1), Enugu (1), Rivers (1), Bauchi (1) and Benue (1) with two deaths in Enugu and Edo States.

According to the weekly update, a total of 1752 suspected cases had been reported and 110 deaths were reported across 21 states including FCT as of March 10.

From January 1 to March 10, a total of 472 cases were confirmed positive from the suspected cases, 15 probable and 1265 negative. Since the outbreak there has been 110 deaths reported in the confirmed cases. This makes the case fatality ratio in confirmed cases as 23.3 per cent.

So far, Edo State has been topping the chart of the highest burden of the disease with 174 confirmed cases, followed by Ondo, with 133 confirmed cases, Ebonyi, with 39 confirmed cases and Bauchi, 32.

Three cases were also reported in the FCT.

21 states have reported at least one confirmed case across 73 Local Government areas since the beginning of the outbreak. These states are Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Ebonyi, Plateau, Taraba, FCT, Adamawa, Gombe, Kaduna, Kwara, Benue, Rivers, Kogi, Enugu, Imo, Delta, Oyo, Kebbi and Cross River States.

Currently, 68 patients are being managed at various treatment centres across the country: Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) treatment Centre (33), Federal Medical Centre Owo (16), Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki (10), Bauchi (1), Plateau (3), Nasarawa (1) and Taraba (4).

A total of 5340 contacts have been identified from 20 States. Of these, 2129 are currently being followed up, 3158 have completed 21 days follow up, while four were lost to follow up.

82 symptomatic contacts have been identified and 49 have tested positive.

NCDC said a multi-sectorial health national rapid response team (NCDC, NFELTP, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Federal Ministry of Environment) is still working in the high burden states.

Also, the National Lassa fever multi-partner, multi-sectorial Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) continues to coordinate the response activities at all levels.

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