Minister of Health Prof. Isaac Adewole yesterday announced the escape of a Lassa fever patient from hospital in Ebonyi State.
The patient, whose identity was not made public, escaped from the health facility, where he was receiving treatment.
The minister said this during a meeting of the National Council on Health in Abuja.
The council is the country’s highest advisory body on health.
The minister inaugurated a 15-member Lassa fever eradication committee to address the outbreak of the disease and other communicable disease in the country.
The committee is headed by Prof. Oyewole Tomori.
The minister said he received a text that a Lassa fever patient escaped from a health facility in Ebonyi while undergoing treatment.
He urged the relevant agency and state government to trace the patient and those who might have had contact with him.
The meeting approved that a high index of suspicion should be maintained and the surveillance systems should be robust enough to detect further infections.
It also approved the inauguration of the Multi-Sectoral Lassa Fever Eradication Committee and implementation of the Multi-Sectoral Response Strategy against the outbreak, which has claimed about 46 lives since it began last August in Niger State.
Adewole called on states to strengthen their surveillance systems, report cases and collaborate with the Federal Ministry of Health for the successful implementation of the response strategy.
The council observed that unlike Ebola, Lassa fever is treatable if detected early, stressing that there were adequate treatment centres in the country.
“Council, therefore, reassured the public on the adequacy of the response to the outbreak and urged the public, community and religious leaders to cooperate with health agencies in their states to ensure prompt reporting of any suspected case,” the meeting stated.
But the committee chairman disabused the mind of the people on the possibility of eradicating the disease.
Tomori said as far as there were rodents, it would be impossible to eradicate the disease.
He, however, said the committee would work hard “to ensure that the disease is brought under control to the point that it is no longer epidemic”.