By Florence Onuegbu
Lagos – Lagos State Government says it has commenced investigation into the purported outbreak of airborne, flu-like illness, among students of Queens College and other schools in the state.
The Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said in a statement on Tuesday that an investigative team set up by the Ministry was dispatched, to unravel the cause of the illnesses.
The team comprised of officials from the State Epidemiology Team, Primary Health Care Services and Environmental Health Department of Lagos Mainland Local Government.
While reviewing preliminary reports of the investigations conducted by the team, Abayomi said that the surveillance team identified what appeared to be a sporadic increase in upper respiratory tract infections, characterised by cough, catarrh, fever and weakness, across some schools.
According to him, 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 attended the clinic with influenza-like illnesses,” he said.
The commissioner said that a walk-through inspection to other facilities in the school revealed that environmental sanitation and water supply were optimal, but could be improved.
He also said that the incident was not an outbreak of any sort but an excessive number of reported cases, that needed to be investigated.
Abayomi said that nasal swab samples would be collected from pupils for confirmation of the cause of the illness.
”As we await a 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.
”All should ensure strict adherence to personal and environmental hygiene, at all times, ” he said.
The commissioner assured that the situation was under control and seems to be on the decline, as government would give necessary updates, as the assessment and investigation progressed,” the commissioner said.
He advised all schools in Lagos to adopt basic precautionary measures against diseases and illnesses by teaching and ensuring good health practices.
Abayomi also urged schools to promote personal hygiene and provide adequate hand-washing points within the school premises.
”They must also commence and continue to raise awareness about respiratory etiquette, hold food handlers and vendors to the highest health and hygiene check protocols, as stipulated in the law, and as practised world over,” he said.
Abayomi urged students 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.
“They must commence daily announcements with reminders about preventing the spread of germs and need for frequent hand washing,” he said.
The commissioner advised parents not to send their children to school if they had features of an upper respiratory tract infection such as cold or flu-like symptoms, but rather had a doctor review them.
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) in their Local Government Area.
Abayomi said that they could report to the Directorate of Disease Control in the Ministry of Health, through the following lines: 08023169485, 08023377487.