By Asmau Ahmad
Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said though the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other world health bodies had not informed Nigeria of any deadly flu from China, the Federal Government is on the lookout for any occurrence.
He said this on Monday in Abuja, during a ministerial bi-weekly meeting on the update of COVID-19 response and development in the country’s health sector.
According to him, when there is an outbreak of any flu or disease anywhere in the world, WHO will announce it to the world and send advisory on how it can be handled, but there is no such alert with the case of the strange flu.
“So, the Ministry of Health finds the message going round in the social media, odd and strange.
“By default, when there is an outbreak of any flu or disease anywhere, we will hear it first from WHO and WHO has not said anything about it, we will also hear from the US Centre for Disease Control (US CDC), but there’s nothing like that also from there and we have not even read anything from the Chinese people.
“Usually, their embassy will send somebody to come and inform us if there is anything. So, I begin to wonder about the authenticity of that paper going around the place because up till today no confirmation of anything like that,” he said.
The minister also said that foreign media outlets were also silent about a flu from China, an indication that the news making the rounds is a fabrication.
He, however, said that the Federal Government is on the lookout for anything suspicious.
“This is a season where people generate stories, throw them into the media and everybody starts panicking, whilst those who generated such stories are laughing at the chaos that they have created.
“So, we are watching the situation, everything we hear we take seriously, but I want to assure you again that any outbreak of such a character, first of all, is announced by WHO, they will then send us advisory and information about it.
“The US CDC, the equivalent of CDC in the UK, in Europe, they have not said anything. So, reports of that nature I also want you to take with a big pinch of salt,” he added.
There had been trending reports that amid the resurgence of COVID-19 in China, there had been an outbreak of an unknown deadly flu in China, which has led to the death of residents, including three Nigerians.
According to the reports, though the initial clinical analysis ruled out COVID-19, the symptoms of the fatal flu include dry throat, fever and difficulty in breathing.
Speaking about Diphtheria, a disease which broke out recently and has spread to four states with 123 confirmed cases and 38 deaths, Ehanire said everyone had a joint responsibility to address diseases.
He, however, said it was the responsibility of the Federal and State Governments to address particular diseases as they break out and that the Federal Government through the Ministry of Health was doing its part.
“I want to assure you that every disease outbreak everywhere is given full attention by this ministry and nothing is left that is our duty to do that we do not do, but I will also expect all states to carry out their own responsibility.
“They need to play their role in managing some of the social fallout. Also, every single person who has appeared in our hospitals has received treatment and no one has been turned back because they didn’t have money,” he added.