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Lassa Fever Claims 40 Lives …Rivers Rapid Response Team On Coursea

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The Federal Ministry of Health says more than 40 people have died as a result of the outbreak of Lassa fever in 12 states of the federation.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr Muhammed Pate, disclosed this at a press briefing in Abuja yesterday.

The states include Edo, Nassarawa, Plateau, Ebonyi, Taraba, Yobe,Ondo, Rivers, Gombe, Anambra, Delta and Lagos.

Pate said the disease was first reported in endemic states of Edo, Nasarawa and Plateau from where it was subsequently exported to Lagos, Port Harcourt and Yobe.

He described Lassa fever as an acute febrile illness, with bleeding and death in severe cases, caused by the Lassa virus.

It has an incubation period of  between six and 21 days to manifest in patients.

“The ministry through its surveillance system started to see cases of this in isolated manner but those cases accumulated. So far there are 397 suspected cases of which about 40 individuals have lost their lives unfortunately, as a result of this viral disease.

“We are very fortunate that we have reference laboratories in our country that can actually diagnose this illness in good time,” he said.

“The Iwu Specialist Hospital in Edo State and the Lagos University Teaching Hospital are very well equipped and have been able to identify and diagnose these cases and that has contributed to the promptness of our response in terms of this cases of Lassa fever.’’

Pate said the ministry had taken drastic measures to curtail further spread of the disease and reduce mortality among the affected persons, adding that the ministry had released adequate quantities of ribavirin injections to all the affected states for prompt treatment of cases. Ribavirin injection is the specific anti-viral drug for Lassa fever.

Pate added that relevant health personnel had been sensitised and mobilised in areas of patient management and care.

“The ministry has also distributed protective gloves as safety equipment for healthcare workers because if health workers are not protected when handling a case, they can also get infected and that is an area that we can prevent”.

“What we are doing here today interacting with the media is part of the effort to sensitize Nigerians; we don’t want to know when a situation has gotten worse and what protective measure people can take”.

“Do not allow the rodent, the host of this virus to come into contact with either food or with human habitation, and there are practices that can be taken to prevent that from happening.  For instance,“the rodent live in bushes around houses, these are not the usual rats that live with people. These are rodent that live outside the house and when people either burn bushes or allow bushes to grow around their houses.  The rodent may be forced to come into contact with their food, with where they live or with water that get them to start to transmit this to people. People need to be aware of that,’’ he said

Pate said all health facilities in the country had been directed to emphasis on routine barrier nursing precautions and to ensure free treatment of patients.

He advised family members and healthcare workers to avoid contact with blood and body fluids while caring for infected persons.

“It is important to note that, the virus is not spread through casual contact, including skin to skin contact without exchange of body fluids.’’

It would be recalled that the Rivers State Health Ministry formally raised an alarm on the  outbreak of Lassa Fever in the state which claimed the life of a nurse while six others were infected.

Meanwhile, the Rivers State Government has inaugurated a Rapid Response Team, comprising medical experts from the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, UPTH and the Ministry of Health to help contain the disease.

Besides, the state Health Commissioner, Dr Sampson Parker assured that the 110 primary Health Centres spread across the 23 LGAs in the state have been equipped and supplied with necessary medical needs required to contain the epidemic.

Administrator, Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority (GPCDA), Dame Aleruchi Cookey-Gam and the Managing Director, Lubrik Construction Company (LCC),Mr Gilbert Sassine, signing the contract for phase I of the M10 Freeway to Onne Sea Port from Greater Port Harcourt City in Port Harcourt, recently.

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90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”

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We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.

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Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW

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Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.

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