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NCDC denies Russia’s claim Nigeria working with US to spread MonkeyPox

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THE Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has denied a report by the Russian government linking the current outbreak of Monkeypox to alleged United States funded and controlled bio-laboratories in Nigeria.

The Russian government had earlier through the Chief of Russian Radiation, Chemical and Biological Protection Force Igor Kirillov, during a press briefing, linked laboratories in Nigeria to the current outbreak of monkeypox.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), monkeypox is a zoonosis: a disease transmitted from animals to humans. Cases are often found close to tropical rainforests where there are animals that carry the virus. Evidence of monkeypox virus infection has been found in animals, including squirrels, Gambian poached rats, dormice, different species of monkeys and others.

According to an update by the World Health Organisation (WHO), there have been 257 confirmed monkeypox cases and about 120 suspected cases in 23 nations where the virus is not endemic as of Thursday, May 26.

The NCDC in a reaction shared with The ICIR, said the Russian government’s statement was not backed by any evidence.

According to the NCDC, “The designation and activities of Nigerian public health laboratories are known to the supervising authorities, most of the laboratories having been procured and set up by the Federal Government in all 36 States and FCT for diagnostic purposes, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and other infectious diseases.”

The centre further noted that some other laboratories are dedicated to the very successful HIV control program, managed by the Federal Government and her partners, based on larger and longstanding bilateral and multilateral cooperation in public health, including prevention, diagnosis, surveillance, and control of diseases.

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“As a rule, Nigeria welcomes scientific cooperation with all foreign countries, and has received material support from the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan etc, and also discussed vaccine production with Russia. Collaboration between Nigeria and the United States has provided opportunities for technical assistance, capacity building, provision of equipment and field hospitals at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and funds to support health programmes, like HIV/AIDS, malaria elimination.”

In an earlier statement, the US Embassy through the Information Specialist, Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the US Consulate General in Nigeria, Temitayo Famutimi, said reports that the United States was working with Nigeria to spread MonkeyPox were pure fabrication.

The statement said there were zero merits to any allegations regarding the use of US-assisted Nigerian laboratories in the spread of Monkeypox. Furthermore, there are no “US-controlled” laboratories in Nigeria, the statement added.

Instead, the embassy said the US government has continued supporting Nigerian health authorities with technical assistance and funding to tackle disease outbreaks such as COIVD-19 and Monkeypox.

However, the NCDC had in a statement at the weekend confirmed the death of one person and twenty-one recorded new cases of Monkeypox.
The NCDC said the fatality resulted from 21 confirmed cases of the disease in the country.

Nine out of Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory have recorded cases of the viral disease.

They are Adamawa (5), Lagos (4), Bayelsa (2), Delta (2), Cross River (2), FCT (2), Kano (2), Imo (1), and Rivers (1).

Monkeypox is endemic in Nigeria. But surveillance isn’t what it should be

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Symptoms of Monkeypox include sudden fever, headache, body pain, weakness, sore throat, enlargement of glands (lymph nodes) in the neck and under the jaw, followed by the appearance of a rash (often solid or fluid-filled at the onset) on the face, palms, soles of the feet, genitals and other parts of the body.

The NCDC said the patient who died of the virus had an underlying co-morbidity and was on immunosuppressive medications, adding that genomic surveillance was ongoing at NCDC’s National Reference Laboratory in Abuja.

The Centre confirmed that the West African clade monkeypox virus was responsible for all the cases.

Author profile

Olayinka works with The ICIR as the Social Media Manager, Reporter and Fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via oshehu@icirnigeria.org. You can as well follow him on Twitter via @ShehuOlayinka1

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