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Nigeria declares end to Lassa fever emergency


The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has declared an end to the emergency phase of the 2020 Lassa fever outbreak after the country recorded at least 188 deaths and over 4,400 cases across 27 states.

The NCDC in a statement on Tuesday explained that the declaration of the emergency being over followed successive declines 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.

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“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.

“It is important to highlight that this year, there was a decline in case fatality of Lassa fever, from 23% in 2019 to 19% in 2020,” NCDC said.

The Centre, however, noted that in the absence of a vaccine, Nigeria remains at risk of Lassa fever cases, explaining that in the last two years, the country has recorded Lassa fever cases throughout the year, with the peak usually between January and April.

The centre said despite the end of the emergency phase of this outbreak, the NCDC would continue to coordinate the national multisectoral Lassa fever Technical Working Group (TWG).

It explained that the TWG would ensure continuous monitoring of cases, as well as the strengthening of Lassa fever surveillance, diagnostic, treatment, and other response activities across all levels in Nigeria.

NCDC informed that it is also working with States and partners to establish more long-term strategies such as improved communication, regular environmental sanitation, enhanced capacity of health workers, and improvement of diagnostic and treatment centres among others.

The centre expressed gratitude to all its partners including WHO, Africa Centres for Disease Control, West African Health Organisation, US Centers for Disease Control, World Bank, George Town University, UNICEF, Africa Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), among others.