Press Release

Nigerian Red Cross Society statement in support of the prevention, control and containment of Lassa Fever and Corona Virus in collaboration with relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies

06 Feb, 2020

Nigerian Red Cross Society statement in support of the prevention, control and containment of Lassa Fever and Corona Virus in collaboration with relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, International Committee of the Red Cross, UN Agencies and the private sector. 
Thursday, 6th February 2020

Lassa fever is a viral infection carried by the multi mammate rat, one of the most common mice in equatorial Africa found across much of sub-Saharan Africa. The illness was first discovered in Nigeria when two missionary nurses got infected with the virus in 1969. Since then, it has become a disease that Nigeria contends with every other year.
The rate of infections this year is very alarming when compared to 2019; as at 1st week of February 2020, a total of 1226 suspected cases, 365 confirmed cases and 47 deaths had been recorded. These were reported from 23 states across the country and in74 Local Government Areas. It is very obvious that if we don’t act fast more fatalities may be recorded this year.
We have mobilized about 100, 000 staff and volunteers in all the affected states and neighboring states who are currently carrying out mass mobilization to create awareness on the Lassa Fever outbreak and hygiene promotion through the mass media, in churches, mosques, schools, markets and communities and to conduct active surveillance, contact tracing and referral of persons showing case definition of Lassa Fever to designated treatment centers.
The NRCS has concluded plans to provide community-based psycho-social support services to survivors and families of affected persons in order to reduce stigma and promote recovery, infection prevention and control and to put in place measures and mechanisms for vector control in the affected communities.
Our Branches have been holding sensitization sessions in worship centers, schools and communities. The National Headquarters is mobilizing support to the Branches on the following: 

Active surveillance and contact tracing, 
Door to door health education and Epidemic Control activities,
Community clean up and vector control activities,
IPC- disinfection of affected houses, 
PSS Services to the survivors and families of the affected, 
Live radio and mobile cinema shows, 
Airing of radio jingles in Pidgin English, Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo and other local languages.
 We have activated an internal funding mechanism (Disaster Response Emergency Fund - DREF) for this operation to support 8 most affected states: Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Kano, Bauchi, Taraba, Delta and Kogi.
We are hopeful that the new corona virus will not find its way into Nigeria; nonetheless, we have placed on alert about one million of our volunteers   across the country and we also encourage all Nigerians to observe, prevention methods recommended by the Federal Ministry of Health including: 

Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 
Use hand sanitizer  or soap and water to clean your hand  regularly
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Stay home or go to the health centre when you are sick
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
We call relevant government agencies and corporate organizations to partner with the Nigerian Red Cross Society to assist in the fight against Lassa fever and prevention of Corona virus. There is no better time to rise to the needs of Nigerians than now as prevention is better than cure.
The Nigerian Red Cross Society commends the media’s educative programs to create awareness, we however, ask the media to do more, partner with the Nigerian Red Cross Society at all levels to reach more people. Nigerian Red Cross Society reaffirms commitment to support the most vulnerable and alleviate human suffering. 
For more information please contact:
Abubakar Kende, Secretary-General, Nigerian Red Cross Society
National Headquarters, Plot 589 T.O.S. Benson Crescent, Off Ngozi Okonjo Iweala Street, Utako District Abuja - Nigeria

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