By Danmaryam Zayamu
Nigeria is currently making efforts to develop vaccine for Lassa fever, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has disclosed.
He disclosed this at a media briefing in Abuja, weekend.
According to him, Nigerian experts in partnership with German experts are currently working at Irua Specialists Laboratory to get a vaccine for Lassa fever very soon.
Ehanire noted that the vaccine has passed through the first stage, even though it may take a couple of years for the process to complete.
“As for the Lassa fever vaccine in Irua, Nigerian scientists are working with other scientists from Germany. They have cross the first stage. It might take a couple of years. First, they must test that it works and also ensure it is not harmful. There is a lot of progress in that regards
“Irua Laboratory has made a name for itself as a centre of excellency for viral hemorrhagic fever. They have a lot of support from abroad.
“We hope that very soon, we will have a vaccine for Lassa fever. The first stage trial has been conducted,” he said.
The Minister further disclosed that the federal government is working on what he described as national laboratory network.
This, according to him, will enable laboratories to connect and communicate to each other in the country.
“We holding conversation to connect all the laboratories in Nigeria together into a network where they can interface with each other. Both public and privately owned. We are working on that national laboratory network,” he said.
Speaking on the level of Nigeria’s preparation for Coronavirus, he said: “The first line of defence are the international airports. Lagos, Kano, Abuja, Port Harcourt. At the moment Enugu is under repairs. Our Port Health services are on the alert.
“We are working with other agencies of government including Immigration, the Customs and the Federal Aiport Authority of Nigeria to watch out all incoming flights from outside Nigeria and ensure they are checked by doctors.
“The protocol is that all people coming into Nigeria are properly checked with cameras and anyone suspected case is captured immediately.
“Anyone with high temperature is invited to step aside and asked some questions. We are going to supply the Port Health services with malaria kits so that they can check malaria cases on the spot.
“All people entering the country will fill a questionnaire as to their travel history-where they are coming. If you are back from China, they will give you a number to call when you get home. You begin by isolating yourself for 14 days. That is the recommended incubation period for this virus. For the sake of your family and your friends from risk,” he explained.
He further noted that: “The second line of defence is the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) that is on the alert for any suspected case.
“We have the capacity now to test for Coronavirus in our NCDC office in Abuja, Lagos (LUTH) and Irua laboratory.
“Chinese Ambassador also told that they are supplying over 2000 doses of reagents to the Africa Centre for Disease Control.
“They also shared the protocol to us and it has reached some of the isolation centres. Our people have been trained and are doing rehearsal on how to tackle any case if it happens.
“We have been working closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO). They have already sent people to come and ask some questions.”