The Federal Government of Nigeria may reactivate COVID-19 isolation centers across the country following the outbreak of an unknown deadly flu in China, which has resulted in the death of residents, including three Nigerians.
The resurgence of Coronavirus in its country of origin has led to concerns about a potential outbreak in Nigeria, prompting officials to take preventative measures. This comes as the country is already dealing with an outbreak of Diphtheria in Kano State, which has claimed 34 lives, and an increase in cases of Lassa fever in Edo State, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 81, with eight deaths.
A leaked memo from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of Federation (OSGF) addressed to the Minister of Health, Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), said the “deadly flu portends danger for Nigeria.”
The memo, dated January 16, 2023, and signed on behalf of the SGF by the Permanent Secretary at the OSGF, Aliyu Mohammed, informed the Minister and agency heads that the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), had on December 13, 2022 raised concerns over the outbreak of an unknown deadly flu, following the death of some residents, which included three Nigerians.
The memo stated that the initial clinical analysis ruled out COVID-19, but the symptoms of the fatal flu include dry throat, fever, and difficulty in breathing. Hospitals in Guangzhou have been inundated with patients having the disease, with seven Nigerians said to be in critical condition as a result of the flu.
The SGF, therefore, said: “Considering the potential danger of this outbreak to human beings, there may be need to note the development with a view to emplacing measures to reactivate COVID-19 centres across the country.”
It added that the outbreak of the new deadly flu portends danger considering the experience of COVID-19, noting that of concern is the fact that the new flu is yet to be diagnosed, an indication that the flu could have spread beyond the shores of China, especially as millions of migrant workers who returned home for Lunar New Year celebrations, travelled back to their various bases outside China across the world.
When contacted last night, NCDC and Office of the SGF declined comment on the matter. The Guardian tried to confirm the authenticity of the memo, but a high ranking official in the OSGF, who earlier promised to get a feedback, later declined comments.
The Guardian also sought to know from the Director General of NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, the center’s findings about the flu in question and measures being put in place to avert importation or ensure prompt testing in case of any outbreak in Nigeria. He too declined making comments on the matter.
As China enters its Lunar New Year, there are concerns that Lassa fever cases and deaths in Nigeria may soar as the weather gets hotter/dryer and as governments of affected states continue to work at cross purposes with the Federal Government. The Edo State government had late last week called on international organizations to come to the rescue of the state over the outbreak of Lassa fever, saying the Federal Government had abandoned the state despite multiple pleas for help.