1st October, 2019
The Lagos State government said it has commenced investigation into the purported outbreak of an air-borne flu like illnesses among students of Queens College and other schools in the State.
Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, who disclosed this on Tuesday said an investigative team comprising of officials of State Epidemiology team, Primary Health Care Services and Environmental Health Department of Lagos Mainland Local Government was set up by the Ministry and dispatched to unravel the cause of the illnesses.
Abayomi, while reviewing preliminary reports of the investigations conducted by the team, explained that the surveillance team identified what appears to be a sporadic increase in upper respiratory tract infections characterized by cough, cattarh, fever and weakness across some schools.
“The team has since visited Queens College and investigations are ongoing. Findings according to the review of health records in the school sick bay revealed that 89 students presented to the clinic with Influenza like illnesses”, he said.
He added that a walk through inspection to other facilities in the school revealed that environmental sanitation and water supply are optimal but could be improved.
The Commissioner noted that the incidences is not an outbreak of any sort but excess number of cases that needed to be investigated.
Abayomi revealed that nasal swab samples will be collected from pupils for confirmation of the cause of the illness.
“As we await comprehensive report of the investigation being conducted, I would like to appeal to stakeholders of Queens College, other affected schools and residents of Lagos State to remain calm and ensure strict adherence to personal and environmental hygiene at all times”
“I assure you that the situation is under control and seems to be subsiding. We will give necessary updates as the assessment and investigation progresses,” Abayomi said.
He advised all schools in Lagos either day or boarding to adopt basic precautionary measures against diseases and illnesses by teaching and ensuring good hand washing practices, promoting personal hygiene and providing adequate hand washing points within the school premises.
“They must also commence and continue to raise awareness about respiratory etiquette such as covering of mouth with clean hands or handkerchiefs when coughing or sneezing, and washing hands immediately after”.
“School management must also hold food handlers and vendors to the highest health and hygiene check protocols as stipulated in the law, and practiced world over”, the Commissioner posited.
Abayomi further advised that high standards of sanitation within the school and its surroundings should be ensured and maintain. He stressed the need for pupils to avoid sharing personal items such as spoons, handkerchiefs, toothbrushes, among others.
“School management must ensure conspicuous display of posters with health messages around the school premises and commence daily announcements and reminders about preventing the spread of germs and need for frequent hand washing”.
“They should adopt healthy practices, such as safe handling of food and the use of standard precautions when handling body fluids and excretions and equip school sickbays to handle infections and other emergencies, with a clear report and escalation protocol,” he stated.
He encouraged School management to carry out simulations and drills regularly noting that this will enhance emergency preparedness.
“To parents please do not send your children to school if they have features of an upper respiratory tract infection such as a cold or flu like symptoms but rather have your doctor review them”, Abayomi added.
He appealed to School authorities as well as citizens to report suspected case(s) of any strange illnesses and diseases to the nearest Public Health Facility or the Medical Officer of Health (MOH) their local government area or to the Directorate of Disease Control in the Ministry of Health through the following lines: 08023169485, 08023377487
“As a responsible and responsive government we will not relent in our resolve to ensure a disease free State and a healthy citizenry in line with the present administration’s THEMES mandate”, the Commissioner assured