Dr. Rufus Ebegba, the Director-General, National Biosafety Management Agency, has enjoined the general public to be alert over the outbreak of Lassa fever virus in some states of the country.
Ebegba gave the advice in a statement signed by Gloria Ogbaki, Head, Press Unit of the NBMA, in Abuja on Tuesday.
The D-G said the agency was working with line ministries, departments and agencies to ensure that every harmful biological agent was contained and eliminated.
He said: “The agency is working assiduously with sister agencies to ensure the spread of Lassa fever and any other disease caused by biological agents are contained and not allowed to cause any more harm to humans and the environment.”
Ebegba, however, advised the general public to be vigilant and take necessary protective measures such as avoiding contact with rats, blocking all rat hideouts and ensuring foodstuff were stored in rodent proof containers.
He also advised that food should be cooked thoroughly and ensure hands were washed thoroughly after contact with a sick person.
He said some symptoms of Lassa fever included fever, headache, sore throat, cough, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and severe cases of bleeding from the mouth and other body openings.
Ebegba also urged Nigerians not to panic as the government was doing all within its power to ensure the deadly Coronavirus was not allowed in the country.
He said: “This virus is a type of corona virus; it can affect the lungs and symptoms include common colds and flu and can spread person to person by coughing and sneezing.
“Its symptoms also include difficulty in breathing, fever and coughing and can lead to organ failure, pneumonia and death.
“The best way to combat it is to avoid close contact with people who might be sick or carrying it.
“The Federal Government is making very swift moves to ensure that the Lassa fever virus is properly contained and the coronavirus not allowed into the country.”
Ebegba advised citizens to avoid countries already confirmed to have cases of coronavirus.
He said with the creation of the new biosecurity department, the NBMA would collaborate with line agencies and stakeholders to ensure that harmful biological agents were contained and eliminated.
The D-G said the just concluded consultative meeting with stakeholders had given the agency a good lead way in ensuring “very robust biosecurity emergency response strategy and policy”.
He said: “We are happy with the level of willingness by sister agencies to collaborate with the NBMA in ensuring that harmful biological agents are adequately contained to avoid harm to humans and the environment.
“We are working on and will come out with a comprehensive National Biosecurity Emergency Response Strategy and Policy that will check biological agents and ensure that they are adequately contained.”
Ebegba assured Nigerians that the agency would not rest on its oars in the bid to ensure that humans and the environment were safe.