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NIGERIA COAT OF ARM

NCDC activates Emergency Operations Centre for Monkeypox

By Abujah Racheal

Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, Director General (DG), Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), says a national multisectoral Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) for Monkeypox has been activated in the  country.

Adetifa, who disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja, said the move followed a risk assessment conducted by the NCDC on Monkeypox outbreaks in multiple countries.

The DG said EOC would continue to coordinate ongoing response activities in the country while contributing to the global response.

NAN reports that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) became the first Gulf state to record a case of monkeypox following the outbreak of cases in the UK and US.

The US monkeypox case tally is relatively small compared to some countries in Europe. Spain has confirmed 84 cases and the UK 85.

In total, nearly 300 cases have been confirmed outside Africa since the start of the month.

The Czech Republic and Slovenia also reported their first cases on May 24, joining 18 other countries to detect the virus outside its usual African base.

Confirmed cases of the disease have been reported in Europe, Australia and America.

That number is expected to rise further, but public health experts say the overall risk to the general population remains low. The symptoms often include fever and rash – but the infection is usually mild.

However, Adetifa said that a national multisectoral multidisciplinary Incident Management System for Monkeypox had been activated at level two (medium).

“You are aware that Level 1: is watching mode. Level 2: is alert mode while Level 3: is emergency response mode, so Nigeria is on level two at the moment,” he explained.

The NCDC DG said that the EOC would continue to monitor and coordinate efforts to reduce the risk of spread within and outside the country while contributing to ensuring global outbreak preparedness and control.

According to him, Monkeypox occurs sporadically, primarily in Central and West Africa, however, some of the cases which had been reported in other parts of the world had no travel link to these regions.

“It does not spread easily between people, but it can be spread through: touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with the monkeypox rash, touching monkeypox skin blisters or defects.

“If you get infected with monkeypox, it usually takes between five and 21 days for the first symptoms to appear. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

“A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body. The rash changes and goes through different stages before finally forming a scab, which later falls off,” he explained.

He emphasised that anyone could be infected with or pass on monkeypox “therefore, we must discourage stigmatisation.

“If you are showing known symptoms of the disease, promptly contact the NCDC toll-free line 6232 for guidance on the steps to take,” he said.

NAN recalls that the World Health Organisation (WHO) says the virus can be contained with the right response in countries outside Africa where it is not usually detected.

“We encourage you all to increase the surveillance of monkeypox to see where transmission levels are and understand where it is going,” the WHO’s Director for Global Infectious Hazard Preparedness, Sylvie Briand, said at a conference on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Germany said it had ordered up to 40,000 doses of the Imvanex vaccine, effective against monkeypox.

Anyone already vaccinated with a smallpox vaccine years ago as part of a global bid to eradicate the disease should have existing immunity, German health officials said.

But they added that the older treatment had more side effects so is not suitable for fighting monkeypox today.

In France where three cases have been detected, officials announced a targeted vaccination campaign for adults who had been recently exposed.

Authorities there are recommending that a vaccine be given within four days of exposure, but up to 14 days afterwards if necessary.

In England, officials announced, as of May 24, 14 more cases of the virus had been detected – bringing the total number of cases in the UK to 71. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Kevin Okunzuwa/Vincent Obi