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Ebonyi Government orders the closure of all schools to check spread of Lassa fever

The Ebonyi State Government on Thursday ordered the closure of all public and private schools in the state to check the spread of Lassa fever that broke out in the state recently.

The Commissioner for Education, Prof. John Eke, in a statement in Abakaliki, stated that the closure was part of proactive steps taken to contain the spread of the disease in the state.

 According to him, the government embarked on the measure to effectively control and contain the spread of the dreaded Lassa virus which had claimed some lives including two medical doctors and a nurse.

The commissioner, however, said that the Lassa outbreak in the state was not alarming, but noted that the closure of schools was done to check the disease spreading into schools.

“First of all, I want to inform you that the issue of the outbreak of the Lassa disease is not at an alarming rate, and what we have done is to ensure that we effectively put the spread under control.

“Again, a woman yesterday (Wednesday), tested positive for the virus and this patient has her children in schools.

“We believe that one of the best ways to handle the situation is to shut down our schools until we are sure that our pupils and students are safe.

“The schools will remain shut for seven school days to enable us to monitor the situation and we appeal to parents, guardians and school authorities to comply with the directive,” Eke said

When our correspondent visited the St. Patrick Primary School,  Abakaliki on Thursday, teachers were seen in clusters discussing the development.

In an interview, the school Headmistress, Mrs. Chioma Okorie,  said that the school management had dismissed the pupils and shut down the school in compliance with the government directive.

 However, some private schools in the state reopened for academic activities.

This prompted the  President of the Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, Ebonyi State chapter, Mr. Onyeoma Kelechi, to warn that the association would sanction any proprietor of a private school who flouted the directive.

Meanwhile, Governor David Umahi has announced the release of N7m to contain the outbreak of Lassa fever epidemic in the state.

The governor said that the money was to enable the state government to source for experts to fully activate the state’s Virology Centre, buy some reagents and embark on contact tracing of all those who had contacts with the infected patients.

“The state government has incorporated members of the Nigerian Medical Association into the Lassa fever committee set up to help in the monitoring of cases in areas where victims are receiving treatment and care,” he said.

Two medical doctors and a nurse working at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki have so far died of Lassa fever infection in the last five days since the outbreak of the disease.

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