…Say 89 Queens College students have influenza-like illnesses
The Federal Ministry of Education, Tuesday, dismissed claims of another outbreak of epidemic in Queens College Lagos, as being circulated in some sections of the media.
This came as the Lagos State government, yesterday, began an investigation into the alleged outbreak of airborne flu-like illness among students of Queens College and other schools across the State.
The Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mr. Sonny Echono clarified this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, in Lagos.
The clarification followed claims of an outbreak of an epidemic in which over 700 students were affected, while over 1000 students have allegedly vacated the college.
Echono said: “I want to say that all such reports going round about the outbreak of epidemic in Queens College is a falsehood.
“As I speak with you, I just left that school about one hour ago and on my way back to the airport en-route Abuja.
“I chose to dash down to Lagos to come and see things for myself because such stories are damaging.
“On getting to the college, I went straight to the sickbay. Yes, I saw a few students being attended to on account of flu and malaria.
“I spoke with the nurse at length, spoke with the doctor, the principal and some other persons, what I discovered is that the students were majorly having flu and malaria, nothing more.
“I was equally conducted round the college to do some inspection and based on this, I can confidently tell you that there is nothing like an epidemic.”
Echono added that the situation in the college was calm and peaceful, stressing that the health conditions of the few students had nothing to do with food and water poisoning as being speculated.
“This is a period of flu. As I speak, I am also having the same flu and that is why I did not bother to speak with the other students for fear of spreading it to them.
“What could be happening in this whole situation is that there could be infighting which I do not like to interfere.
“But what I will not tolerate is for anyone to spread falsehood and send panic to the public that is not acceptable.
“I have taken note of my findings, the ministry of health people too, I learned have been there and will still be there tomorrow to further investigate the situation.
“At the end of this, we will then state to the public,” the permanent secretary assured.
LASG begins investigation
Meanwhile, the State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, also disclosed that an investigative team, comprising of officials of State Epidemiology team, Primary Health Care Services and Environmental Health Department of Lagos Mainland Local Government, has been set up by the Ministry and dispatched to unravel the cause of the illnesses.
Meanwhile, the state government has appealed to school authorities and citizens to report suspected case(s) of any strange illnesses and diseases to the nearest Public Health Facility.
Reviewing the preliminary reports of the investigations by the team, Abayomi explained that the surveillance team identified what appears to be a sporadic increase in upper respiratory tract infections characterized by cough, catarrh, fever and weakness across some schools.
Abayomi advised parents not to send their children to school if they have features of an upper respiratory tract infection such as cold or flu-like symptoms but rather have them checked by a doctor.
89 Queens College students have influenza-like illnesses
He said: “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 were presented to the clinic with influenza-like illnesses.
“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 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 progress.”
He advised all schools in Lagos State, 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 the practiced world over.”
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 amongst others.
“The school management must ensure the conspicuous display of posters with health messages around the school premises and commence daily announcements and reminders about preventing the spread of germs and the 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.”