Trade Union Congress, TUC, in Rivers State has expressed worry over the manner that the state government is handling the Lassa fever epidemic.
Chairman of TUC in the state, Comrade Hyginus Chika Onuegbu, in a statement issued in Port Harcourt, yesterday, said the state government was not giving the epidemic adequate attention.
According to him, most residents of Port Harcourt metropolis do not know about the existence of the killer-disease.
The TUC chairman, who expressed fears that not giving the epidemic the attention it deserves could lead to more avoidable deaths, decried the low level of sensitisation of the public, especially in rural areas.
He called on the government to expedite action in containing the spread of the dreaded disease across the state and Nigeria in general.
“Lassa fever is a very fatal viral hemorrhagic fever which we understand kills faster than Ebola. Already several deaths have been reported, while many more especially in rural areas go unnoticed because of the low level of sensitisation of the public. We are deeply worried that the epidemic is not given the attention it deserves in the state and this could lead to several avoidable deaths.
“We call on the Rivers State Government to keep the public regularly updated on the Lassa fever outbreak, explain the efforts being made to contain the spread, the number of reported cases, symptoms; isolation, treatment centres and preventive actions that should be taken by individuals. Adequate public awareness is crucial in any plan to contain the spread of the deadly virus.
“We appeal to the state and federal government to expedite action in containing the spread of Lassa fever across Rivers State and Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, a cross-section of people interviewed by Nigerian Pilot in Port Harcourt, yesterday, could not give adequate information on what they know about Lassa fever.
A garri seller, Abasi-ama, said the Nigerian government always comes up with one disease or the other. “We heard in the news that Lassa fever is killing people. That was how they said Ebola killed people. Another time they will say bird flu, make we no chop fowl. I tire for Nigeria every year new sickness.’’
A lady in her late 30’s and pedicurist, Joy, said: “I don’t believe what they are saying. People will always die. They said we should not drink garri any more because rat causes Lassa fever; that rat normally defecates on garri, but this morning I drank garri with pancake. I love it so much. If there is Lassa fever, it is not for me, it is for big men.’’
Also, a taxi driver, Chibuzor, told our correspondent that he only heard of it and has not seen it. “They said there is Lassa fever but I have not seen it. What is government doing that Lassa fever will be killing people. Is it today that we started seeing rats? Madam, God will help us”, he stated.
Lassa fever broke out in the state in December 2015 and has so far killed three persons with the latest victim, being a consultant at the Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital, BMSH, Port Harcourt, Dr. Ageyoi Living Jamala.

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