The minister of health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has said that the federal government was on the lookout for any occurrence of the deadly Chinese flu.
Ehanire stated this yesterday in Abuja during at the bi-weekly ministerial meeting on the update of COVID-19 response and development in the country’s health sector
He said the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other world health bodies were yet to inform Nigeria of any deadly flu from China.
He explained that when there is an outbreak of any flu or disease anywhere in the world, WHO will announce it to the world and send an advisory on how it can be handled, but there is no such alert in the case of the strange flu.
“So the Ministry of Health finds the message going round in social media, odd and strange.
“By default, when there is an outbreak of any flu or disease anywhere we will hear it first from WHO and WHO has not said anything about it, we will also hear from the US Centre for Disease Control, but there’s nothing like that also from there and we have not even read anything from the Chinese people.
“Usually, their embassy will send somebody to come and inform us if there is anything. So I begin to wonder about the authenticity of that paper going around the place because up till today there is no confirmation of anything like that,” he said.
The minister further said foreign media outlets were also silent about the flu from China, an indication that the news making the rounds is a fabrication.
“This is a season where people generate stories, throw them into the media and everybody starts panicking, whilst those who generated such stories are laughing at the chaos that they have created.
“So we are watching the situation, everything we hear we take seriously, but I want to assure you again that any outbreak of such a character, first of all, is announced by WHO, they will then send us advisory and information about it.
“The US CDC, the equivalent of CDC in the UK, in Europe, they have not said anything. So reports of that nature I also want you to take with a big pinch of salt,” he added.
Nevertheless, the minister reiterated that the federal government was on the lookout for anything suspicious.
Speaking about diphtheria which broke out recently, Ehanire said everyone has a joint responsibility to address diseases.
Diphtheria is a serious bacterial infection caused by the bacterium called corynebacterium species that affects the nose, throat and sometimes, skin of an individual.
It spreads easily among people through direct contact with infected people, droplets from coughing or sneezing, and contact with contaminated clothing and objects.
The minister said it is the responsibility of the federal and state governments to address particular diseases as they break out and that the federal government through the ministry of health was doing its part.
“Diphtheria is a vaccine-preventable disease and we are urging that people should get vaccinated. The vaccines are there and we need cooperation and uptake.
“I want to assure you that every disease outbreak everywhere is given full attention by this ministry and nothing is left that is our duty to do that we do not do, but I will also expect all states to carry out their own responsibility.
“They need to play their role in managing some of the social fallout.
“Also, every single person who has appeared in our hospitals has received treatment and no one has been turned back because they didn’t have money,” he added.
He urged parents to ensure that their children get vaccinated against the infection as the country is still battling Lassa fever, measles, meningitis, and yellow fever.
Meanwhile, the director general, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), Dr Ifedayo Adetifa has said that the number of confirmed cases of diphtheria disease has risen to 123 in the country.
Adetifa said the cases were recorded in Kano, Lagos, Yobe, and Osun States.
According to Adetifa, the number of confirmed cases and deaths were recorded in Kano State.
“Based on the latest reports from states shared with the NCDC as of January 22, 123 confirmed cases and 38 deaths have been recorded,” he said.
A breakdown of the cases showed that Kano State recorded 100 confirmed cases with 32 deaths, followed by Yobe State with 17 confirmed cases and three deaths; Lagos State with five confirmed cases and three deaths, and Osun State with one case.