Disregard Reports On Deadly China Flu, Health Minister Tells Nigerians

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has admonished Nigerians to disregard reports making rounds on the social media about a new flu in China of whom seven Nigerians had reportedly died from.

Ehanire stated this on Monday, January 23, 2023, at the biweekly press briefing on update on Covid-19 Pandemic Response and Development in the Health Sector held in Abuja.

He dismissed the news as a rumour, adding that, in an ideal situation, “whenever there’s such an outbreak of any flu or deadly disease anywhere, we hear it first from WHO. But up till now, WHO has not contacted us with any information about the flu neither has the Chinese embassy communicated to us on that matter”.

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He however, said, they would remain vigilant and had referred the matter to the Director General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Port Health Services so they could be at alert.

On his part, Director General of NCDC, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, informed that, as at Sunday, January 22, 2023, there were 123 confirmed cases of diphtheria and 38 deaths recorded.

Adetifa, who was represented by the Director, Special Duties of NCDC, Priscilla Ibekpe, disclosed that Kano State had 100 confirmed cases of diphtheria and 32 deaths from the disease, while Lagos State had 5 confirmed cases and 3 deaths; Yobe had 17 confirmed cases and 3 deaths, Osun State had 1 confirmed case with no deaths recorded.

He informed that the Agency had correspondents to all states to heighten surveillance for diphtheria and promptly report all suspected or confirmed cases accordingly.

“The Federal Government, through the NCDC, is also working closely with states to respond and control the spread of the outbreak,” he said.

In response, Dr. Ehanire harped on the need for parents to get take their children for vaccination. He said diphtheria, meningitis e.t.c were Vaccine Preventable Diseases but cases and deaths abound because of refusal to go for vaccination.

Also, on the controversy surrounding the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines, the Minister informed that every vaccine coming in to the country were tested and certified by NAFDAC, hence there was no cause for alarm.

On her part, the Director, Family Health Department, Dr. Boladale Alonge informed that, the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Newborn Essential Solution Technologies (NEST 360), the Nigeria Society for Neonatal Medicine (NISONM) and the Council of International Neonatal Nurses(COINN) had begun discussions on commencing the National Neonatal Nursing programme.

She clarified that, this was a pilot programme which sought to have a poll of experts in Neonatal Nursing for more effective management, care and wellbeing of newborns in Nigeria.

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