By Sola Ogundipe & Chinelo Azike
The Federal government has said that the country is setting up facilities to diagnose the Novel Coronavirus.
The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunimbe Mamora, who disclosed this in Abuja, said the government had already activated an emergency preparedness multisectoral group.
“In the next couple of days, we would have our own laboratories to diagnose coronavirus which we don’t have at the moment. We have the equipment but not the reagents to test because it is a new virus that has just been discovered, so we need the reagents and of course, we are in touch with relevant international agencies like the World Health Organisation, WHO, and others to supply us this reagent to enable us to make a diagnosis.
“If we have had a case today we will have to take samples and send it to either South Africa or the Netherlands. Within the next few days, maybe the next 48 hours or 72 hours, we should have one centre, that is the information available to me.
“This emergency preparedness growth is already activated and it is a multisectoral growth coordinated by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, and of course we have officials of the Port Health Services.
Noting that so far, no case of Coronavirus has been established either in Nigeria or even within the African region, Ehanire said the WHO, is monitoring the development all over and the world and is yet to declare the coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern.
On fears that the Coronavirus could find its way into Nigeria, Ehanire stated: “It is a possibility, we have to be realistic because we have a certain number of Chinese workers even in Nigeria this time. If such people are returning from China their home country, we will need to follow up with their travel history, while they were on holiday in China.
“Did they visit Wuhan? Even if they didn’t visit we need to know whether they have some symptoms. We need to do a follow up on this when they come.
“We need a high index of suspicion. That is, when you establish the travel history then you need to do a follow up on such people because you never know when they come down with the disease. So that why this emergency preparedness group is already activated and it is a multisectoral group coordinated by the NCDC.
On Lassa fever, he said there are centres on the ground where a diagnosis can be made.
“Lassa fever is not new to us since the first case was discovered in 1969 or thereabouts in Lassa village in Borno State. So we have centres where the diagnosis can be made when blood samples are taken and then we know when to expect the outbreak.
It is usually about the peak of the dry season, around this time. You recall that the outbreak we have this year started about the end of the first week of January, and we know places like Ondo, Edo, and Ebonyi are the major areas.
“What we had recently in Kano is a different scenario entirely but the NCDC has already sent supplies and of course they came to give technical support to all these things where they have been able to establish cases and proffer diagnosis and of course the treatment.
“We know that the vectors are rodents and this means we need to upscale our hygiene and the general environmental sanitation and some harmful practices which we need to disseminate such information to people where people spread cassava on the roads. This is the reason the health education comes in we need to continue educating people.”