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Cholera Update: Lagos Records 579 Cases, 29 Fatalities…Plans to introduce Safe Plate and Safe beverage initiative

Lagos State government is to introduce an initiative called Safe Plate and Safe beverage to prevent the recurrent of Cholera outbreak.

The initiative will ensure that all street food vendors and beverage sellers will be monitored to and given modules operandi of operation.

The state Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi made this known at a news briefing to update the media on the cholera outbreak and what the state government was doing to arrest the situation in Lagos.

The Commissioner disclosed that, as it stands, the total number of cholera cases has increased to 579, with Lagos Island, Kosofe, and Eti Osa Local Government Areas (LGAs) recording the highest numbers.

The death toll has also risen to 29, an increase of five from the previously reported 24 fatalities.

Professor Abayomi who stated this during the briefing, in company of his counterpart the Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Mr Jamiu Ali Balogun on Monday, said the state’s

surveillance was yet to tie the outbreak to a specific cause, although efforts are ongoing to unravel the sources of samples tested. “So far, we have not been able to identify a source yet, but investigations are ongoing. Moving forward, we are going to keep active surveillance around our water sources and beverages in Lagos state,” Abayomi stated.

The commissioner further revealed that 30 patients were currently being hospitalised for varying degrees of the disease at the Infectious Disease Hospital, IDH, Yaba, adding that about 579 suspected cases have been identified, 43 of which are confirmed through laboratory analysis.

He noted that late presentation fueled most of the deaths in the state, adding that “Most of these deaths were caused by patients presenting very late at a stage where we could not resuscitate them because they had severe rehydration and many patients were actually brought in dead.

“Out of all the samples we were able to collect, we were able to identify Vibrio Cholera. So this is indeed a confirmed case of a cholera outbreak by a subtype O1 that is known to us to be very contagious and to cause significant sickness in those that contract it.”

Speaking on efforts to halt the spread of the disease, the Commissioner said the state government is in complete control, even as he disclosed that the it is offering cholera treatment free of charge to any suspected cases. He therefore urged patients who are having symptoms of cholera to rush to any public hospitals for treatment.

“The state government has also adopted one health approach to response as relevant ministries and agencies and departments of the Lagos state government, including Health, Environmental and Water Resources, Education, Information and Strategy, Physical Planning and Agriculture are working together to curb the outbreak, prevent future occurrence.

“Directorate of Environmental Health and Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency are collecting samples of water, food, and beverages to determine source of outbreak; ongoing inspections of facilities in affected areas; prepositioning cholera kits in health facilities statewide; distribution of Oral Dehydration Solutions (ODS) and risk Communication and Public health education campaigns commenced and intensified,” he stated.

The Commissioner however urged residents to consume safe water, practice good personal hygiene like hand washing especially after using toilet and before eating; washing of raw fruits and vegetables; cook food properly; thoroughly reheat left over food before consuming; avoid unregulated and unregistered Street beverages and ensure general environmental sanitation.

Speaking on cholera vaccines, he said the government is currently not including the oral cholera vaccine in the routine national immunization programme.

While acknowledging the effectiveness of the oral vaccine, the commissioner highlighted several factors for the decision. He said: Firstly, introducing a new vaccine requires careful consideration, especially in the current climate of “vaccine sensitivity.”

Secondly, the low incidence of cholera cases in the country doesn’t justify a nationwide rollout.

The commissioner emphasized that the situation would be different if cholera cases surged. In such a scenario, immediate action would be taken, including importing vaccines.

He added that presently, a limited supply of the oral cholera vaccine is available in the private sector but not through public health facilities.

He said the discussions should be at the federal level to determine whether to integrate this vaccine into the national immunization program.

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