Home Health & Living Diphtheria: States consider facemasks as cases rise to 13,204

Diphtheria: States consider facemasks as cases rise to 13,204

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As diphtheria spreads further across the country, the federal government has urged the affected 19 states to reintroduce the use of facemasks.

The executive director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, gave the advice yesterday at the Diphtheria Outbreak Response press briefing, in Abuja.

He said, “Diphtheria is an airborne disease. Like COVID-19, we can reduce air contact with the bacteria by adopting non-pharmaceutical interventions such as the use of facemasks, handwashing and physical distancing from affected persons.

“Accordingly, I would like to call on governors of affected states to institute face-covering requirements such as facemasks in public gatherings. By doing so, we can add another intervention to slow the progress of the outbreak”.

He said this should be done in a way that does not stigmatize nor discriminate against sick people.

Shuaib said six states are bearing the brunt of the outbreak, accounting for a staggering 97 per cent of all reported cases.

The states are Kano, Yobe, Katsina, Borno, Kaduna, and Bauchi, while Kano alone carries the weight of over 84 per cent of the cases, making it the epicentre of this outbreak, said Shuaib.

He said the burden falls disproportionately on young people with over 73 percent of the cases occurring in children aged one to 14 years.

“Alarmingly, only about 18 per cent of those affected had received any vaccinations”, said Shuaib.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) yesterday said as of 3 October 2023, there had been 13,204 reported suspected cases out of which 8,406 were confirmed cases from 114 local government areas in 19 states including the FCT.

The director-general of NCDC, Dr Adetifa Ifedayo, at a press briefing in Abuja yesterday, disclosed that efforts were on to establish a national diphtheria laboratory.

Adetifa said, “Last week, the national diphtheria task force deployed the National Rapid Response Teams to Kano, Yobe, Katsina, Bauchi, Borno, Kaduna, Jigawa and Zamfara to support the outbreak response in the states across all pillars”.

He explained that the teams were offering on-site surveillance and response support in the affected states.

“Through the laboratory network, we continue to conduct preliminary and confirmatory testing at sub-national and national levels. Currently, we have 14 laboratories in the Diphtheria Laboratory Network with capacity to support diphtheria testing. Optimisation of five additional laboratories at the subnational level is currently ongoing.

“There is also continuous provision of technical support to public health laboratory scientists across states. We are currently finalising the development of the National Diphtheria Laboratory”, he added.

He also gave a breakdown by states: Kano – 7,188 (86%), Yobe – 775, Katsina – 232, Borno – 118, Jigawa -23, Bauchi -20, Kaduna – 17, Lagos – 8, FCT – 6, Gombe – 5, Osun – 3, Sokoto – 3, Niger – 2, Cross River – 1, Enugu – 1, Imo – 1, Nasarawa – 1, Zamfara – 1, Kebbi -1.

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