The Nigerian government has announced that following epidemiological review by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation, the emergency phase of the Lassa fever outbreak is over.

The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, said that since the beginning of January 2018, Nigeria has experienced the largest Lassa fever outbreak in history.

He said that as the 7th of May 2018, Nigeria had 423 confirmed cases and 106 deaths were recorded.

“The Lassa fever outbreak provided an opportunity for us to review and strengthen our public health system across disease preparedness, detection, surveillance and response.

The Federal Ministry of Health through NCDC activated an Emergency Operation Centres that worked extensively to coordinate outbreak response activities. We also supported the establishment of EOCs in the high burden States of Ondo, Edo and Ebonyi,” he said.

The Minister also said that Rapid Response Teams were deployed to States with cases where we supported enhanced surveillance activities, case investigation, management of cases and other response activities.

“During this outbreak, we supported the full operationalisation of the Virology Centre at the Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki and the development of its laboratory as a testing site. We have now grown from two laboratories in January 2017, to four laboratories in January 2018 with the capacity to test for Lassa fever.

“The Federal Ministry of Health also supported further development of infrastructure at the three main treatment centres- Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Federal Medical Centre Owo and Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki.”

Professor Adewole noted that the end of the outbreak does not mean that the country will no longer record cases of Lassa fever.

“Given the epidemiology of the disease in Nigeria, there will still be reports of cases. However, we are now better prepared and have stronger response architecture.

One of our medium-term strategies which have already begun includes a nationwide training of healthcare workers on Lassa fever case management and diagnosis by NCDC and Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital.

The first phase which covered all States in the South West of Nigeria ended in Akure on the 4th of May 2018. We are going to the South East from the 14th of May 2018,” Prof Adewole said.

The Minister said that in addition, Nigeria is working very closely with the World Health Organization to strengthen research activities on Lassa fever including new diagnostic approaches and improved treatment options.