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AKTH probes suspected Lassa fever cases, traces contacts of deceased doctors, patient

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Nazifi Dawud

Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) has launched an investigation into possible cases of Lassa Fever after two of its medical personnel who had performed a Cesarean Section on a pregnant woman, died of a mysterious type of fever just days apart.

KANO FOCUS reports that the unnamed patient, who was said to have come from Bauchi state, had also died while a third doctor is currently fighting for his life at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital.

The two deceased doctors–Ummu Kulthum Abba, a house officer and Dr Habibu Musa, a consultant anesthetist–died on Friday and Monday respectively just 20 days after participating in the surgery on the pregnant woman.

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In a statement, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Kano chapter, had blamed the death of the medical personnel on “suspected cases of Lassa fever”, adding that “samples were taken to confirm diagnosis”.

The NMA said other suspected cases of the Lassa fever had received treatment with intravenous “Ribavrin” drug and were transferred out to Yar-gaya Isolation centre in Dawakin Kudu local government area of the state.

The AKTH management did not officially respond to a KANO FOCUS inquiry, but the hospital’s spokesperson Hauwa Abdullahi shared a WhatsApp message showing resolutions reached at the end of a stakeholders’ meeting held at the facility on the issue.

The first resolution on the message stated that “two cases of Pyrexia (fever) of Unknown Origin are being investigated in the hospital [as] samples were taken to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) [while] contact tracing is presently being undertaken in conjunction with the state Ministry of Health.”

The second item on the message said “there will be a sensitization lecture tomorrow (Wednesday) to all hospital staff and thirdly staff “are advised to be calm and and observe safety precautions while providing services to all patients”.

The last item then warned staff to “be cautious of what they say in social media, to avoid unnecessary panic,”

The resolutions were signed by Dr Auwalu Umar Gajida, acting Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee of the AKTH.

Government keeps mum

However, both the Director, Public Health, Dr Imam Wada Bello and spokesperson of the Kano State Ministry of Health, Ismaila Gwammaja did not respond to calls and text messages by KANO FOCUS seeking comments on the suspected cases of Lassa fever in the state.

What is Lassa Fever?

According t0 the NCDC, Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF) caused by the Lassa virus. The natural reservoir for the virus is the Mastomys natalensis rodent (commonly known as the multimammate rat). Other rodents that carry the virus have also been identified.

Epidemiological data show that Lassa fever occurs throughout the year, but more cases are recorded during the dry season that November through May, the NCDC says in an advisory warning to health workers.

How is it spread?

Lassa fever, according to the NCDC, is spread through:

1. Direct contact with urine, faeces, saliva or blood of infected rodents.

2. Ingesting food and drinks contaminated with urine, faeces, saliva or blood of infected rats.

3. Contact with objects, household items or surfaces contaminated with urine, faeces, saliva or blood of infected rats.

4. Person-to-person transmission can also occur through contact with blood, urine, faeces, vomitus and other body fluids of an infected person, particularly in hospital environment where infection prevention and control practices are not optimal.

What are its symptoms? 

The early stages of Lassa fever present initially like other febrile illness such as malaria, the NCDC says.

Symptoms of the disease generally include fever, headache, sore throat, general body weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pains, chest pain, and in severe cases; unexplainable bleeding from ears, eyes, nose, mouth, vagina, anus and other body orifices. It could also present as persistent bleeding from sites of intravenous cannulation.

The incubation period (time between an infection and appearance of symptoms of the disease) is 3 to 21 days. Early diagnosis and treatment increase the chances of survival.

Inappropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, masks and poor IPC practices, increase the risk of person to person transmission of Lassa fever.

What to do if you suspect any case of Lassa fever

According to NCDC, any febrile illness that has not responded to 48 hours use of anti-malaria or antibiotics should raise an index of suspicion for Lassa fever!

The national guidelines for Lassa fever case management and Infection prevention and control are available on the NCDC website for download (http://ncdc.gov.ng/diseases/guidelines).

Report all suspected cases of Lassa fever to your Local Government Area Disease Surveillance and Notification Officer (DSNO). They are the first link to response and care for Lassa fever cases in Nigeria.

Contact:

NCDC Toll-Free Number: 0800-970000-10

SMS: 08099555577

Whatsapp: 07087110839

Twitter/Facebook: @NCDCgov

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BUK to fabricate ventilators to treat COVID-19 patients

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BUK

Nazifi Dawud

Bayero University Kano (BUK) has revealed plans to start producing medical ventilators to be deployed in hospitals and isolation centres for treatment of COVID-19 patients.

A ventilator is a machine that helps people who cannot breathe properly on their own by pumping air in and out of their lungs through a tube inserted into their windpipe.

One of the key symptoms of the COVID-19 is breathing difficulty, which is often life threatening for some of those infected with the virus, according to medical experts.

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In a statement obtained by KANO FOCUS, the university said it has assembled a team of engineers to start fabricating the machines for use in Kano state.

“The University’s Faculty of Engineering had set up a seven-man committee with a view to producing prototype ventilators for an emergency use in our hospitals and other isolation centres as part of efforts to contain the pandemic which has been threatening the country.

“Following the discussions on the Faculty of Engineering Forum on the need to contribute our quota towards the fight against the COVID-19 Pandemic, a seven man Committee is hereby composed,” said the statement signed by the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Professor Salisu Dan’ azumi.

Mr Dan Azumi added that the committee, to be chaired by Professor Abdussamad U. Jibia from the Department of Mechatronics Engineering “is expected to design and fabricate a prototype ventilator which would be use as an emergency measures in our hospitals.”

He said the team has been given two weeks “to present a report to the Faculty Board including the design and construction of prototype ventilator for emergency use in hospitals and homes to treat patients of COVID 19 pandemic.”

The dean also revealed that “the committee was charged with the responsibility of suggesting the modality for mass production of the designed and fabricated ventilators. It would also give an estimate of the cost of producing the ventilators.”

Hand sanitizers also

Similarly, the university said it has mobilized its staff for the production of hand sanitizers for use within the institution as well as the larger Kano community.

Dr Ibrahim Tajo Siraj, head of Pure and Industrial Chemistry department said a number of academic staff have volunteered to participate in the project as part of their contribution towards preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Mr Siraj explained that the volunteers are currently in the laboratories formulating the sanitizers based on specifications provided by the World Health Organization.

“As you are aware, Universities were known to be serving as research centres where solutions are proffered for any problem facing the society, and now it is time to prove to this, hence, our decision to mobilize our members to the laboratories with a view to producing hand sanitizers as stop-gap measures,” he said.

“As you can see now, our scientists from the Department of Pure and Industrial Chemistry are currently in the laboratories mixing the chemicals to come up with a quality and standard hand sanitizers,” he added.

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COVID-19: NCC’s 112 emergency number offers succour to Nigerians

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Nasiru Yusuf

The National Emergency Number 112 established by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is providing succour to Nigerians in the nation’s collective efforts to fight the spread of Coronavirus pandemic, also known COVID-19.

A statement issued by deputy manager online media and special publication, NCC, said Nigerians are able to call emergency response agencies or first respondents with respect to any issue they may want to report on the Coronavirus or other health-related issues and emergencies.

He said already, states and federal government agencies are leveraging the 112 National Emergency Number, whose calls are handled through the Emergency Communication Centre (ECC) established by the Commission across the country.

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According to him the ECC project is the brainchild of NCC to enable easy communication by Nigerians with emergency first responders such as Police, Fire Service, Federal Road Safety Corps, National Orientation Agency (NOA) among others, by dialing the three-digit toll-free Number 112.

He recallled that on assuming office as the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC in 2015, Prof. Umar Dambatta, quickly put machinery in place to accelerate the implementation of ECC across the country in line with the decision of the Nigerian government to enhance security of lives and property and as mandated by the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003.

He noted that the NCC fast-tracked the execution of the emergency project, whose implementation had hitherto been dragging, in recognition of its mandates to promote and enhance public safety through the use of a particular number, which shall be designed as the universal safety and emergency assistance number for telephone services generally.

He revealed that so far, the ECCs, with their operational 112 toll-free emergency number, have been implemented in 17 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

He observed that aside FCT, beneficiary states of the ECC include Benue, Kwara, Plateau, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo, Oyo, Edo, Akwa Ibom, Cross Rivers, Imo, Enugu, Anambra and Adamawa.

“Efforts are ongoing by the Commission to deploy the ECC facility in other states of the Federation.

“Today, the 112 National Emergency Number is fully available in all the aforementioned states and FCT and can be leveraged by Nigerians, as an alternate number to reach first responders at this period of COVID-19 when seeking help and assistance from applicable government response agency during emergencies.

“Already, the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, identified the centrality of the 112 number towards handling citizens’ calls for help in this time of Coronavirus pandemic,” the statement revealed.

Mr Obaseki, in a state-wide broadcast to sensitise the people of the state on the epidemic, urged the people of Edo State to take advantage of 112 three-digit, toll-free number to get help from response agencies in case they want to pass critical information to the government and the State Task Force on COVID-19.

It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, on March 19, 2020, unveiled the Abuja ECC facility and flagged off the 112 National Emergency Number during the commissioning of the NCC’s Communications and Digital Economy Complex at the Mbora District of Abuja.

The President explained that the 112 Number demonstrates his administration’s resolve to keep Nigerians safe.

President Buhari said ‘We have taken advantage of digital technologies to ensure that Nigerians in distress are only a dial away from the relevant emergency response institutions in the country” via the 112 Number.

According to him, the NCC’s 112 National Emergency Number will go a long way in supporting our efforts to improve the security of lives and property.

With Coronavirus spreading across the globe and more people living in isolation, the NCC’s 112 Number is providing alternatives for people to stay in touch and institutions to provide the needed basic life-saving services to the populace.

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COVID-19: 500 beds arrive Kano for Dangote’s isolation centre

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Nazifi Dawud

Aliko Dangote, Africa’s leading business magnate has begun construction of a field hospital with 500-bed capacity at Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano city,  as his contribution to the fight against the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

KANO FOCUS reports that Mr Dangote had announced that he would construct a 600-bed isolation centre for COVID-19 patients in the state.

Kano has not recorded any confirmed case of COVID-19 as all suspected cases have so far tested negative to the virus.

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In a statement sent to KANO FOCUS on Thursday, Hadiza Namadi, a spokesperson for the state Ministry of Health, said “equipment for 500 beds have arrived the venue today Thursday as construction has commenced in earnest.”

The statement added that a committee, to be headed by the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Aminu Ibrahim Tsanyawa has been formed to supervise the project and to “determine how the center will function including issues on water and power supply and waste disposal.”

“Members of the committee include Commissioner of Youth and Sports Development, Alh. Kabir Lakwaya, Commissioner of Works, Alh. Magaji Mu’azu, Executive Secretary, Primary Healthcare Management Board, Dr. Tijjani, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health, Dr. Amina Abdullahi Umar, and a representative from Dangote Foundation,” the statement read.

Medical and health volunteers to apply online

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has also directed all volunteer medical and health professionals who wish to join the fight against the COVID-19 in Kano to make their applications online.

The volunteers have been asked to file their applications via www.kanostate.gov.ng/volunteers.

The ministry, in a statement said the decision to move the exercise online was to ease overcrowding at the Muhammadu Buhari Specialist Hospital, venue of the recruitment exercise.

Kano receives share of Jack Ma’s COVID-19 aid

Also, the Kano state government has received its share of protective medical items that were donated to Nigeria by a Chinese business Mogul Mr Jack Ma, who is the founder of Ali Baba foundation.

According to the state Commissioner for Health, some of the items donated by Mr Jack Ma include face masks, overall gowns and face shields.

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