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How to avert socio-economic impact of Coronavirus, Lassa fever, by NMA

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The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has allayed fears over the perceived high fatality rate of Coronavirus (COVID-19), even as it recommends the best way of averting the socio-economic impact of the disease and Lassa fever.

President of NMA, Dr. Francis A. Faduyile, told The Guardian yesterday that although there are many things yet unknown about COVID-19, it was not as deadly as being perceived, saying the fatality rate was 0.2 to three per cent depending on age and co-morbidity.

Faduyile said community education, sensitisation and infection prevention control were key in efforts to contain COVID-19 and Lassa fever.

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He noted that in spite of the report of a case of COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria, the country still has a window of opportunity to act.

“This is the time to further strengthen Nigeria’s core capacities to respond to public health emergencies. Therefore, the Federal Government and their partners must invest in epidemic preparedness and health safety to promote and protect its people and avert the negative socio-economic impact associated with outbreaks.”

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To contain the spread of the disease, Faduyile recommended screening at international airports and seaports, contact tracing, community education, and correct information dissemination through television, radio, posters, and newspapers.

Other recommendations are, maintaining coordination, collaboration, and communication among all health agencies and restriction of travels by citizens to high-risk countries.

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Faduyile said with no vaccine or treatment, the most effective way to stop COVID-19 spread is to limit transformation by identifying infected individuals as quickly as possible and isolating them for treatment before they infect others.

He said this strategy worked against the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2003.

He added that government should enforce international standard routine screening of every traveller at the country’s major international airports and seaports, by checking for fever and asking for symptoms such as cough, to prevent more travellers who have been infected from transmitting the disease to Nigeria.

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He said although it is not evidence-based now to test everyone for the virus even if they have no symptoms, port health authority, however, is expected to be extra vigilant.

On Lassa fever, Faduyile recommends education and sensitisation, infection prevention control practice in the health facilities, provision of treatment centres and laboratories, as well as intensive research and adequate funding.

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“Government should provide a fund to start Lassa fever epidemiological studies that would provide data to guide research and responses. Lassa fever has been with us in Nigeria for over four decades.

“By now we should have come up with a home-grown solution or strategic research, which ultimately would lead to the development of points of care and rapid diagnostic tests that do not require specialised equipment or technicians and can provide results immediately,” he stated.

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