The Federal Capital Territory and 19 other states in Nigeria are reintroducing the mandatory use of face masks in public gatherings to combat the rising cases of diphtheria in the country.
The recent surge in diphtheria cases has raised concerns, prompting these measures.
Diphtheria is a highly contagious and vaccine-preventable disease caused by the bacteria Corynebacterium, which can lead to breathing difficulties, heart rhythm problems, and even death.
It spreads among people mainly through direct contact or respiratory droplets in the air, similar to how COVID-19 spreads.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) reported a total of 8,406 confirmed diphtheria cases in recent times.
Notably, 73.7% of these cases were among children aged one to 14 years. Kano State has been identified as the epicenter of the disease, accounting for 86% of the total infections.
To address the outbreak, the government is conducting vaccination campaigns, focusing on high-burden areas.
They are also emphasizing the importance of face masks, hand hygiene, and physical distancing, as these measures can help reduce the spread of the disease.
The government recognizes vaccination as the most effective means of preventing diphtheria and has launched comprehensive vaccination campaigns to protect vulnerable populations, particularly children.
International organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (USCDC) are providing support in surveillance, coordination, and community engagement to combat the disease.
In summary, Nigeria is taking steps to control the diphtheria outbreak through vaccination campaigns, emphasizing the use of face masks, and engaging community leaders to promote vaccination and public health measures.