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Monkeypox: NCoS allays fear of outbreak, experts worry

Amidst the rising cases of monkeypox in the country, the Nigerian Correctional Service on Thursday assured Nigerians of the safety of its custodial centres across the country.

This is as public health experts raised the fear of the disease in custodial centres due to its overcrowded nature and the fast spread of the virus.

Monkeypox is a rare viral disease transmitted from animals to humans and from human to human.

Symptoms include fever, body pain, weakness, sore throat and rashes on the face, palms, soles of the feet and other parts of the body.

Recent data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control revealed that the country has recorded 318 confirmed cases of monkeypox with seven deaths since January.

In an interview with our correspondent on Thursday, a renowned virologist, Oyewale Tomori, posited that the spread of monkeypox in custodial centres across the country is a valid fear, noting that its environment provides a good platform for the virus to thrive.

He said, “It is a logical thing. If one case gets in there, with the condition in there, it is very easy to spread. You know that the virus is spread by direct contact and the crowded situation within the correctional centres provides a good environment for that wild spread.

“All you need is one person coming in with the disease into that environment and you can have the disease spread due to the congestion and close contact within the people.

“It is a valid fear that if monkeypox should get into correctional centres, it can lead to a large number of cases occurring.”

In the same vein, a community medicine expert, Nathaniel Noel, in a chat with our correspondent expressed concerns about the possibility of an outbreak of the disease in the country’s correctional centres. He said the high number of inmates makes the centres unsafe and susceptible.

“Monkeypox spreads easily in conditions where susceptible persons are close to infected individuals. Nigerian correctional facilities are typified by overcrowding; making them unsafe in situations where there is an infectious disease outbreak such as monkeypox,” he said.

However, NCoS spokesperson, Umar Abubakar, allayed the fears, saying the centres have capable medical experts to help combat the disease.

Abubakar said, “When it comes to medical services, we have nurses and laboratory scientists. It is only in rare cases that we consult medical services outside. But when it comes to the issue of pandemics, we have never experienced such a thing.”

“There is no fear of the outbreak of monkeypox.”

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