RED ALERT: CHOLERA UPSURGE

The Lagos State Government says it is taking precautions against the spread of cholera which has already killed one person in adjoining Ogun. The Commissioner for Health, Jide Idris, told the News Agency of Nigeria on Saturday in Lagos that residents need not be apprehensive but should also be on the alert.

The Commissioner for Health in Ogun, Olaokun Soyinka, has confirmed one person dead in the cholera outbreak in Abeokuta.

He named affected places as Abeokuta North and Abeokuta South Local Government Areas.

"There was a sudden upsurge in cases of gastroenteritis in some communities in Abeokuta, first noted on Friday, July 5.

"Some severe cases were presented to Ijaye Hospital and were informed of a patient who died in the community," Mr. Soyinka said.

Mr. Idris said, "We are aware of the cholera problem in Ogun and we are going to tell our surveillance people to be on high alert.

"We will tell people in charge of health facilities around border communities to be on the alert too.

"We will monitor the development closely and respond promptly and appropriately as possible. We will enlighten residents on what they should and not do concerning this cholera issue.

"The state government will also do its best to stop cholera outbreak from getting here and we hope it would not get here," he said.

The commissioner, however, urged residents to make cleanliness and personal hygiene their watchword, saying that cholera could only thrive in filthy environment.

Idris also alerted the residents, especially those going on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia on the outbreak of a deadly Middle-East Respiratory Corona-virus in some parts of Asia, and reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

He explained that it had reportedly infected 90 people and killed 45 in that country, adding that no case had been reported in Nigeria.

"The essence of this alert is for Nigerians going on Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia to be aware of the serious infectious disease in that country so that they can take precautions against it.

"Since the disease is spread by body contact, sneezing and coughing, it is expected that the large gatherings at Umrah and Hajj will pose some risks for pilgrims.

"We urge pilgrims to maintain good personal hygiene while in the Holy Land as this will significantly reduce the risk of infection," he said.

Idris also advised pregnant women, the elderly, children and people with chronic diseases to stay away from this year's Hajj operation, as they are very susceptible to the virus.

The commissioner said the Federal Government had sent a team of experts to Saudi Arabia to understudy the pattern of the new virus with a view to drawing up a control plan.

He said that the state government would collaborate with the Federal Government and other relevant agencies on measures to ensure that the disease did not spread to Nigeria.

(NAN)