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Amidst COVID-19 Surge, Nigeria Battles Cholera Outbreak

The cholera outbreak may affect Nigeria's overstretched and already vulnerable healthcare system.

Amidst a third wave of COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria is scrambling to contain a cholera outbreak, an official has said.

Chikwe Ihekweazu, the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Saturday, July 10, 2021, said the country reported 14,343 suspected cases of cholera between Jan. and June 27, 2021 in 15 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja with 325 persons dying from it.

The affected states are Benue, Delta, Zamfara, Gombe, Bayelsa, Kogi, Sokoto, Bauchi, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Kebbi, Cross-River, Nasarawa, Niger, and the FCT.

According to Ihekweazu, six states reported 1,786 suspected cases of cholera between June 20 and June 26, 2021 alone.

The states include  Bauchi (1,239 cases), Kano (362 cases), Niger (62 cases), Zamfara (55 cases), Kaduna (59 cases) and Plateau (9 cases).

He said an NCDC situation report on cholera indicates that 27.6 per cent of victims across the country who are in the age bracket of five and 14 years, contracted the disease via ingestion of contaminated food or water.

The report says the victims are usually found in peri-urban slums and refugee camps, where basic infrastructure such as clean water and sanitation facilities are unavailable.

It also states that 51 per cent of the  cases are male, while 49 per cent are female.

Ihekweazu assured that a multi-sectoral national Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) which coordinates the cholera national response activities had begun a thorough observation of the situation.

“The centre has been supporting states to ensure a coordinated, rapid and effective response to the current outbreak,” he said.

“This includes the deployment of National Rapid Response Teams to support the response at the state level, provision of medical and laboratory supplies, and scale-up of risk communications amongst other activities.’’ 

But he warned that the risk of cholera death is higher when treatment is delayed.

He urged Nigerians to undertake the safety measures of all-time hand washing and covering of food or water containers.

Abubakar Sani, the spokesperson for the FCT Minister, Mohammad Bello, in a statement, on Friday, July 9, 2021 also urged the residents to observe the safety measures as the government scrambles to contain further spread of the disease.

“We have made available rugs and Consumables for the free treatment of identified cases in both Secondary and Primary Care Facilities of the FCT,” he said.

There are already fears that the sudden outbreak of cholera may complicate Nigeria’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic as cases which had slowed since December 2020 are now rising steeply. 

The number of confirmed cases rose from 40 on July 2 to 186 on July 9, 2021, raising the total number of cases in the country to 168,442 with 2,122 deaths and 164,423 recoveries.

With the Delta variant recorded in Nigeria which the NCDC described as worrisome, there are fears that it could destabilise the overstretched health professionals and derail Nigeria’s earlier success in tackling the virus.


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Aishat Babatunde

Aishat Babatunde heads the digital reporting desk. Before joining HumAngle, she worked at Premium Times and Nigerian Tribune. She is a graduate of English from the University of Ibadan.

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