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Outbreak: Benue Records 725 Suspected Lassa Fever, Confirmed 55 Cases, 13 Deaths

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From Attah Ede Makurdi

The Benue State’s Situation Report of the current outbreak of lassa fever from 1% November, 2023 to 2nd March, 2024(Epidemiology week 9), indicated that , the state recorded a total of 725 suspected cases, 55 confirmed cases with 13 deaths, 2 probable cases and a Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of 23.

6%.

The State commissioner for health and human services Dr.

Yamar Ortese who disclosed this at a press conference in Makurdi, said most affected nine LGAs  are Makurdi, Guma, Gwer West, Gwer East, Okpokwu, Obi, Ogbadibo, Otukpo, and Ukum.

He explained that the Ministry of Health has activated the State multi-sectoral Emergency Operations Centre for Lassa Fever (LF-EOC) following a risk assessment that placed the State at a very high risk of increased Lassa Fever transmission within and beyond its borders.

According to him, the purpose of the LFEOC activation was to achieve a State multi-sectoral coordination and response across affected Local Government Areas (LGAs) to interrupt disease transmission, reduce the impact of the disease by reducing suffering and death, and other socioeconomic complications of the disease.

“Lassa Fever is a zoonotic disease caused by the Lassa virus, which is transmitted from rodents to humans, and can also be transmitted through person-to-person contact. Lassa Fever can lead to severe illness and death in some cases.

“The disease can affect people of all ages and can occur in both urban and rural areas. It is endemic in West Africa and poses a significant threat to public health. This press briefing is an opportunity to raise awareness about the disease and promote actions for its prevention and control”, Ortese said.

He maintained that, according to the World Health Organization, Nigeria is the country with the highest number of reported Lassa Fever cases and deaths globally, adding that in the past few years, there have been several large outbreaks of Lassa Fever in Nigeria, with thousands of cases reported.

The commissioner observed that these figures are not just worrisome but calls for collective action to stop the spread of the disease in the State.

“In epidemiological week 6, we also had the unfortunate incidence of detecting 4 infected persons in one of the IDP camps in the State. This population is highly vulnerable due to the overcrowding in congregate settings with poor hygiene. Fortunately for the State, the disease outbreak response team intervened promptly. The confirmed cases were treated and their contacts were monitored for symptoms. They were asymptomatic and exited follow-up on 1% March, 2024.

“It is also pertinent to note that this is the highest number of positive cases in the last 4 years. This has put pressure on the Treatment Centre in Benue State University Treatment Center as the cases passing through it have doubled. Cumulatively, from the onset of the outbreak, BSUTH Treatment Centre has managed 90 cases (both suspected and confirmed).

“The public is invited to note that early detection of cases improves the chances of its victims. Specifically all should carefully look out for and note the following”:

He outlined some of the symptoms of Lassa fever to include; fever, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, sore throat, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea, while in severe cases, internal bleeding, lead to death.

According to him, to prevent the spread of Lassa fever, certain steps such as practice good hygiene, such as washing hands regularly with soap and water, avoid eating food contaminated with urine or feces from infected rats, Store food securely to prevent contamination by rats,  keep one’s home and surrounding areas clean and free of rat droppings and seeking of medical attention immediately if one experience symptoms of Lassa fever.

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I-G visits Ogun, Approves Area Commands for Ifo, Imeko, Idi-Iroko

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The Inspector General of Police (I-G), Kayode Egbetokun, on Tuesday, began a three-day working visit to Ogun, with an approval for creation of additional area commands in Ifo, Imeko and Idi-Iroko areas of the state.

Reports says that Egbetokun arrived the command’s headquarters at Eleweran in Abeokuta, in the company of the Assistant Inspector General (AIG),  Zone ll, Olatoye Durosimi and the Commissioner of Police in the state, Abiodun Alamutu.

While addressing  stakeholders and the rank-and-file of the police, Egbetokun charged officers of the command to step up their efforts at  fighting crime in the state.

He, however, called for more support for the police to enable them effectively combat crime in the state.

“I have heard your request for an area command in Ifo and that request is hereby granted.

“We are not, however, going to stop at creating an area command in Ifo, we will also create two area commands in the two border areas of Idi-Iroko and Imeko.

“On the issue of manpower, lack of vehicles and operational logistics for Ogun command, I have whispered to the CP that he should give me the list of all the needs of the command and we are going to pay attention to all of them.

“Whatever that we need to do to stop kidnapping in Ogun state, we are going to do it. The fact that there are few crimes being committed here and there does not affect the peaceful status of Ogun state,” he said.

Earlier in his remarks, Alamutu noted that Ogun remains one of the safest states in Nigeria in spite of its fair share of security challenges.

Alamutu expressed optimism that  the I-G’s visit would re-energise the officers and men for better service delivery.

He promised that men and officers of the Ogun command would remain loyal and committed to the ideals and vision of the force.

NAN reports that Egbetokun , thereafter,  inaugurated the newly built Main Office,  the Technical Intelligence Unit and the Complaints Unit  within the premises of the command.

The I-G is also expected to visit the four paramount rulers of Egba, Ijebu, Remo and Yewa on his three-day visit to the state. (NAN)

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Abia Govt. Declares War Against Indiscipline, Task Force Enters Streets

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The Abia State Harmonized Task Force (ASHTF), Aba Zone, on Tuesday began the enforcement of the law against street trading, illegal parking, indiscriminate dumping of refuse and environmental nuisance.

The Aba zone team, led by Chief Uche Wogu, the Transitional Chairman of Aba South Local Government Area, began the enforcement from Bata Junction down to Aba Main Park.

The enforcement also continued throughout the entire city centre, after two weeks of sensitisation.

Addressing newsmen during the exercise, Chief Wogu said that ASHTF would ensure that all wrong methods of enforcement were eliminated from the system.

“What will change is that nothing will be business as usual as there are massive reorientation of the mentality of the people of this town.

“In the past, you had all sorts of people in the task force doing things recklessly but now, we believe in the rule of law.

“You see people jumping into vehicles, causing accidents and all manner of things. ASHTF has six zones, two in Umuahia, and four in Aba and each zone has Mobile Courts attached to them.

“We have four mobile courts in Aba and when anybody defaults, we would all make use of the mobile courts and the court will issue the penalty charges.

Wogu said that each offence had its penalty and any offence that had a cash payment had to be paid into the single treasury account.

Prince Emmanuel Ahumibe, the Coordinator of ASHTF, Aba Zone-B, has also assured residents that there would be no harassment of any sort.

Ahumibe added that ASHTF was a task force with a difference that would do its job with human face, sensitisation and civil enforcement.

“We will use the mobile courts adequately to ensure that road obstruction, illegal parking, street trading and too many other things were eliminated,” Ahumibe assured. (NAN)

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Naira Appreciation: FCCPC Intensifies Enforcements to Discourage Unfair Price Hike

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The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) says it will intensify monitoring and enforcement in formal and informal markets to ensure that business owners do not unfairly inflate prices.

Dr Adamu Abdullahi, the Acting Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, was reacting to complaints by consumers that in spite of the appreciation of the Naira against the dollar, prices of goods were still increasing.

Abdullahi said in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday, that the situation was unacceptable, and the Commission was committed to protecting consumers from exploitation.

He said that the operatives of FCCPC would work with trade associations, farmer groups, and other stakeholders to combat price-fixing, and dismantle cartels.

This, according to Abdullahi, will encourage increased competition and ultimately lead to lower prices for consumers.

”The FCCPC understands the significant financial strain these rising prices are placing on Nigerian households. As a result, the Commission is taking proactive steps to addressing this issue.

”While the FCCPC cannot directly regulate prices, the Commission will utilise its existing legal framework to enforce fair competition and consumer protection provisions.

”This includes monitoring and investigating unusual price hikes, addressing complaints filed by consumers, and taking action against any businesses found to be engaging in anti-competitive practices such as price-fixing, price gouging or cartel formation.

”The Commission remains committed to educating consumers about their rights and empowering them to make informed choices.

”We will engage in advocacy and public awareness campaigns to raise awareness about price gouging and other unfair trade practices and provide guidance on how to identify and report such practices.

”We will collaborate with relevant regulatory bodies to develop a comprehensive and coordinated response to anti-competitive practices, price gouging, and other consumer protection issues,” he said.

He encouraged consumers to continue to report suspected price gouging and other unfair trade practices through contact@fccpc.gov.ng.

”Together, we can work towards a more stable, fair, and competitive marketplace for all Nigerians.” (NAN)

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