By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
On Tuesday, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has declared the emergency phase of the 2020 Lassa fever outbreak over. This is following successive decline in cases below the emergency threshold, and an epidemiological review carried out by NCDC and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
On the 24th of January 2020, NCDC declared a Lassa fever outbreak and activated a national Lassa fever Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). This was in response to an increase in Lassa fever cases at the beginning of the year, exceeding the threshold for an outbreak.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, 979 confirmed cases including 188 deaths have been recorded from 27 States including the Federal Capital Territory as at 19th of April 2020. The Lassa fever case count has significantly declined in the last three weeks and has now dropped below levels considered to be a national emergency.
Despite the end of the emergency phase of this outbreak, the NCDC will continue to coordinate the national multisectoral Lassa fever Technical Working Group (TWG). This TWG ensures continuous monitoring of cases, as well as strengthening of Lassa fever surveillance, diagnostic, treatment and other response activities across all levels in Nigeria.
The NCDC recognizes that in the absence of a vaccine, Nigeria remains at risk of Lassa fever cases. In the last two years, Nigeria has recorded Lassa fever cases throughout the year, with the peak usually between January and April. According to the Director General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, “Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we remain focused on our prevention, detection and response to other infectious disease outbreaks in Nigeria, including Lassa fever. While we have crossed the emergency phase, we know that we will continue to record cases. The NCDC remains committed to ensuring a continuous decline in the number of people who die from Lassa fever, by early detection and appropriate treatment”.