By Sola Ogundipe
In a near replay of the July 20, 2014 Ebola Virus Disease episode when Liberian Patrick Sawyer imported the Ebola virus into the country undetected through the Muritala Mohammed International Airport, MMIA, an Italian national has imported the COVID-19 virus into the country through the same airport on February 25th 2020.
The Federal Ministry of Health and the Lagos State Ministry of Health had, in early hours of Friday February 28th, confirmed the case in Lagos. It is the first case of COVID-19 to be reported in Nigeria and in sub-Sahara Africa and the third in Africa after Egypt and Algeria since the outbreak occurred in China in December 2019.
Lagos state Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi, told reporters during an emergency press briefing in Lagos on Friday, that the index case – a consultant with Larfarge Cement Company, Ewekoro, Ogun State – came into Nigeria on the 25th of February from Milan, Italy for a brief business visit.
According to Abayomi, the patient, a traveller, initiated his journey from Milan, Italy, on Monday, 24th February, transited through Istanbul on-board a Turkish Airline aircraft and arrived Lagos on Tuesday night, spent the night in an hotel near the airport and on Tuesday morning, he moved on to his business in Ogun State, a corporate entity.
“He carried out his business within Ogun State within the confines of the company. And on Wednesday he spent the night in their accommodation, a guest house. By the afternoon, he started to develop symptoms of high fever and body pains. He presented through the company medical facility, where investigation began. He gave a history of his origin of Italy, where we know there is a young outbreak.”
Abayomi said it was astute of the medical personnel to keep him over night in an isolated environment.
“They contacted us at the biosecurity unit in Lagos for assistance and we immediately asked them to transfer the case to Lagos. He was brought to our high containment facility in Yaba on Thursday morning. Immediately, he arrived, he was put in strict isolation and appropriate tests were ordered.
Lagos responds promptly, begins contact tracing – Prof Akin Abayomi
“Within hours we received signals that the test in the laboratory was showing signs of positivity. At that point, we informed the Federal Minister of Health, the incident commander in the state, Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the Minister informed higher authorities in Abuja.
Noting that it was self important at that time to put together information for the public, Abayomi stated that the patient remains in strict isolation at the containment facility in Yaba and was doing well with supportive therapy.
In response to the development, the Lagos state government immediately started tracing persons that might have had contact with the index case from the airport through Lagos to Ogun State.
According to Abayomi, it is in order to start the isolation and containment of exercise that will break the cycle of transmission of the disease.
He said Lagos has set in motion efforts to expand its isolation capacity.
“The important thing to know is that the patient is confined and we have started to identify his contacts all the way to the airline. That process started about 3.00am this morning. We would like to assure everybody that we are on this case to ensure that we can identify everybody that he must have come into contact with.
“His symptoms are subsiding and he does not have signs of respiratory disease which is a good thing, but he does have fever and body pains. If he had respiratory illness it is probably like that he may be more contagious than he is at the moment.
“At our infectious disease facility, we have ramped up capacity to isolate suspected cases. We are now sitting on an about 80-bed isolation facility because of the emergency funds that have been released by the incident commander. We need more capacity in case we have an increased number of cases in Lagos.”
Abayomi said Lagos has a very aggressive public awareness campaign going on and has engaged in extensive training across the hierarchy of health professionals in Lagos.
“In addition we are building capacity to diagnose in Lagos and right now we can run the test in two centres in Lagos, one is in the biosecurity facility and the other at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH. We are in constant contact with the Nigeria centre for Diseases Control, NCDC, and Minister of Health in Abuja.”
Why the index case was not picked up at the airport – Dr Osagie Ehanire
Officials of the Port health services on ground at the airport were unable to detect that the Italian was carrying the virus because he manifested no symptoms. The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, explained that it was not a failure of screening. At an emergency press briefing in Abuja on Friday morning, he told journalists that most people who are infected with the coronavirus, may experience only mild illness and recover easily.
“It is not a failure of screening because coronavirus symptoms may not manifest within the first several days, so the person that is infected may not show any signs at all within the first few days or five days and then the symptoms begin. So if that person has traveled within that window, that person gets through anywhere and may not be noticed.
According to Ehanire: “ The Italian went through the screening without symptoms and by the time he got to his house, I think a day or two after, he started to feel unwell and wisely enough he went to a hospital and there the doctors examined him and I believe they found that malaria was negative and they knew his travel history and they immediately referred him for a test in Lagos at LUTH testing centre and there it was discovered that he was positive for coronavirus and immediately put under isolation. In fact he has been put on isolation from the referral hospital in a special ambulance.
“As a matter of fact we need to commend the hospital for thinking ahead, not wasting time and taking necessary measures and commend Lagos state government for responding very appropriately. There was free thinking on the side of the hospital and on the side of the driver to transport him under those special conditions to the Federal infectious disease hospital in Lagos. He has immediately been put under very strict isolation, receiving treatment and the information I have this very morning is that he is stable.
“The symptoms for people will not be equally severe. And in fact there are speculations that up to 80 percent of people who get the coronavirus infection may show only mild symptoms or none and 20 percent will get very severe symptoms but all this is still under investigation. As we know this novel coronavirus even if it is new, it’s behaviour is not very clear and there is a rapid flow of information coming up about it which is just beginning to enlighten the public. The scientists are working very hard to know more about it”.
How the contacts are being traced, community infection possible
On tracing of the contacts, Ehanire said; “We are looking at all those people whom this man has been in touch with backwards from the day he was admitted. The first point of call whenever anybody enters the country is the Port Health services.
The Port Health services will be working with the airline to get the passengers manifest and find out where this gentleman was, and also where he sat and also those who sat around him and set up a monitoring system for all passengers and the crew members of that particular flight in order to get information to monitor their state of health within the next 14 days.
And further questioning of the gentleman will also reveal to us where he was and all the places he went. All we know now is that he came from Milan where he was before’ it doesn’t seem that he ever was in China. So he may have acquired it as a form of community infection from his own country.”
Why every traveler into Nigeria is not quarantined
Speaking on the issue of quarantining of travelers, Ehanire recalled that the World Health Organisation, WHO, has advised all countries that there is no need to put every single traveler into quarantine.
“There are some other countries who choose to do differently but we follow the guidelines of the WHO which say that screen all persons who are entering your country, check their travel history, if they are coming from a country that has a high rate of coronavirus, invite them for further questioning, give them a phone number to call and take their phone number and advise them in the interest of their own families and friends to stay in self isolation for 14 days and report any symptoms immediately.
“Not only that, if you do not call, we call you and find out how you are and if you have any suspicious symptoms we send an ambulance to get you. Our focus is on the multifunctional international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, and Kano. Enugu Airport has been closed and I understand it will be opened very soon but we are also preparing for that possibility.
We are constantly looking at where there are weaknesses – Ehanire
According to the Minister, the level of preparedness continues to improve in Nigeria every day. “Training is going on, the people that we call the port health workers are receiving training, they are visited by the NCDC to continue to sharpen their skills, preparedness, and knowledge. We are constantly looking at where there are weaknesses. Even the forms the passengers fill when they arrive we continue upgrading, immediately we discover that there is a gap some where we upgrade it and repair the gaps that are in there. So everything is been done to improve preparedness and improve ability to respond rapidly.
On declaration of an outbreak
An outbreak can sometimes be declared very formally which we are doing now – declaring that it has entered our country and assuring the public that all measures are been taken to control this outbreak. Because it happened in Lagos, Lagos state Commissioner is the first that we are in touch with and we have been talking to all through last night till very late last night as far as 2.00am -3.00am we were in touch and early this morning we have been in touch.
Covid 19 : FAAN, Port Health intensify screening at Lagos airport
By Lawani Mikairu
Following the confirmation by Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi yesterday of an index case of COVID -19, an Italian consultant with Larfarge Cement Company, Ewekoro, Ogun State in Lagos, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN and Nigeria Port Health Services have intensified the screening of passengers entering the country through the Muritala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
This is just as the two agencies are making frantic efforts to get details on the index patient, Italian citizen, who entered Nigeria on the 25th of February from Milan, Italy for a brief business visit. The patient, a traveler who “ started his journey from Milan on Monday, 24th, transmitted through Istanbul on board a Turkish Airline and arrived in Lagos on Tuesday night, and spent the night in an hotel near the Lagos airport”.
Speaking about the development, Regional Manager, Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Mrs Victoria Shinaba said screening had been strengthened at the airport to detect any case of the Coronavirus infection. She also said efforts are on to ascertain how the Italian underwent screening procedures at the Lagos Airport from where he entered the country.
According to Shinaba, “all screening facilities, thermal body and infrared scanners had since been deployed since the outbreak of the covid19 for the screening of both inbound and outbound passengers”. She further noted that FAAN was working with the relevant Port Health Unit personnel and other stakeholders nationwide on the containment measures.
The Regional Manager added that “the authority was on top of the situation as it had escalated containment measures at airports nationwide”. She said all “concerned stakeholders; health officers, airlines and other secondary partners were all on red alert on the new development”.
She therefore urged air travellers and the general public to acquaint themselves with the Ministry of Aviation, health updates on prevention, information posted at strategic areas at the airport as well their jingle on the virus for prevention purposes.
COVID-19: We’ve started tracing contacts of confirmed case – FG
*Intensifies efforts to contain spread, dispatches rapid response team to Lagos
*Releases N620m to NCDC, N71m to port health services to manage outbreak, boosts surveillance
*Reported case not a sign of failure, says NCDC
By Luminous Jannamike
The Federal Government on Friday said it has commenced tracing the contacts of the first confirmed case of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.
This is even as a Rapid Response Team, RRT, from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, has been deployed to support the efforts of the Lagos State Government in monitoring the health of people that travelled with the patient with a view to preventing further spread.
Earlier, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, announced that an Italian citizen who travelled to Lagos from Milan, had tested positive to COVID-19, thereby making history as the first confirmed case of the disease in sub-Saharan Africa.
However, in a follow-up press briefing on Friday in Abuja, Ehanire assured Nigerians that the government was on top of the situation.
He said, “I am assuring Nigerians that all measures have been taken to contain and control the spread of the virus. It happened in Lagos, the state Commissioner was the first we were in touch with.
“I know the capability of Lagos State, the state has a lot of experience on Ebola so they will be able to handle the case. Also, we have sent a team from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to support the state.
“The relief is that the patient is not showing very serious symptoms and other relief is that as far as statistics have shown, 97 per cent of the cases that have COVID-19 do recover.
“The terrible thing about it is that it spreads easily and people can get it without knowing,’’ he said.
The Minister blamed the reported case on the nature of the virus which may not present symptoms at that period of screening, stressing that it was not a result of failure of surveillance at the airports.
Ehanire hailed the Lagos State Government for its swift response as the patient was quickly referred to reference laboratory under controlled transportation with a fully kitted driver.
He also revealed that the Federal Government had released N620 million to NCDC for containment of the virus and N71 million to port health service to amplify surveillance and screening.
“We are doing everything possible to prevent the spread because we did not have the scope of the virus as reported by scientists.
“We have been preparing hard and working with World Health Organisation (WHO) and the agency has warned that all countries should brace up on level of preparedness.
“The government will follow the WHO guideline of screening at the airport, isolation and questioning those with travel history to countries with outbreak,’’ The Minister said.
He, therefore, advised all Nigerians to take care of their health and maintain hand and respiratory hygiene to protect themselves and others, including their own families.
Meanwhile, the Director-General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, urged Nigerians not to panic over the confirmed case of COVID-19, saying it is not a sign of failure.
“We are dealing with a new virus. There are 47 countries that have reported at least one case.
“A case is not a sign of failure. NCDC was set up for situations like this we are working non-stop with relevant state governments. Please avoid rumours and panic,” he said.
Coronavirus: PDP blames Buhari’s negligence
…Seeks adoption of Ebola intervention strategy
By Dirisu Yakubu
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has blamed the coronavirus incidence case in Lagos, Nigeria for what it called the negligence and laid-back attitude to governance and the welfare of Nigerians by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government.
This is even as the party said it was evident that the Buhari Presidency, “not being alive to its responsibilities, as usual, took no concrete steps to hedge our nation against the virus, leading to the current scary situation.”
In a statement issued by the party’s spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan yesterday, the PDP noted that “a responsive and proactive government would have mobilized effective surveillance and screening measures to ward off the menace, particularly at our entry points, but the incompetent, insensitive and indifferent Buhari administration, was more interested in propaganda and unnecessary show-boating with false performance claims.”
The statement continued: “The party also recalled that the Buhari administration had done nothing to assist Nigerian citizens stranded in China despite their pleas, just the same way it abandoned our compatriots who were being murdered in the heat of xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
“The PDP said Nigerians should directly hold the Buhari Presidency responsible should any national calamity arise from COVID-19 in addition to the economic and security challenges its negligence had caused our nation.
“Due to the negligence and incompetence of the Buhari administration, Nigerians can no longer move freely across their country for fear of insurgents, bandits, kidnappers and now corona virus.
“Indeed, the Buhari government is a huge misfortune to our nation. This latest leadership failure further validates widespread calls for it to step aside for more competent hands to manage the affairs of our country.
“The PDP therefore calls on Nigerians not to despair but stir up the Nigerian resilient spirit for an urgent, multi sectoral concerted effort by agencies, groups, corporate entities and public-spirited individuals to immediately curb the disease before it spreads, particularly given the prevalent security, economic and humanitarian challenges in the country.
Coronavirus: Atiku harps on unity, national resolve
By Dirisu Yakubu
Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has called for togetherness and concerted effort to tackle the threat occasioned by the entrance of the dreaded Coronavirus into the country.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP candidate in the 2019 election in a personally signed statement made available to journalists yesterday called on the federal government to learn from the strategy adopted to combat Ebola a few years ago.
The statement read: “We must call upon our experience with the wild Ebola virus, of which we were the first nation in the world to defeat that scourge in 2014. How did Nigeria do it?
“We achieved it by showing unprecedented unity. The federal government of the day, worked closely with the Lagos and Rivers state governments. There was complete unity, solidarity and oneness of purpose, which created the atmosphere that defeated that deadly infestation.
“I strongly counsel that any tendency to blame and point fingers must be temporarily, if not permanently, suspended. If fingers must be pointed, it must be to solutions.
“Nigeria needs firm and decisive actions to prevent an escalation of the scourge. Recently, we closed our borders as an act against economic sabotage. Perhaps now is the time to temporarily halt flights to and from any nation with a prevalence of this scourge. It is more important to secure human lives, than to secure an economy. We also need to invest in early detection facilities at our airports.
“But above all, Nigeria must not panic, whether at government or individual levels. We have defeated Ebola before and we can defeat this present predicament.
“This crisis is an opportunity to show that we are first and foremost Nigerians, and that we have no other country but our own dear fatherland, which we must work together to keep healthy and secure.”
How we’re handling coronavirus outbreak—FG
By Emmanuel Elebeke
Following the first confirmed case of Coronavirus in Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture says it is intensifying its public sensitization and enlightenment campaign on the disease.
The Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed who announced this in a statement on Friday, explained that Media agencies under the ministry like the NTA, FRCN, NAN, VON and NOA, have been directed to intensify their ongoing sensitization and enlightenment campaign to arm Nigerians with the necessary information to stay well.
“With Coronavirus now in Nigeria, following the first confirmed case, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture is intensifying its public sensitization and enlightenment campaign on the disease.
The saying, ‘’information is power is most apt at this time’’.
“The measures being taken by the agencies include
– Jingles on radio and television – Up-to-date reports on the efforts being made by Nigerian health authorities to ensure proper screening at the nation’s gateways and also handle possible cases – Continued airing of documentaries on the disease by the NTA SMS sensitization messages being sent to Nigerians by the News Agency of Nigeria
“The National Orientation Agency (NOA), with its wide reach (offices in all the 774 local governments), is pushing the various sensitization/enlightenment programmes to all the nooks and crannies of the country, translating the campaign to the major indigenous languages to expand their reach
– Features on the disease (prevention, treatment, etc.) are being written and disseminated.”
He appealed to all Nigerians not to panic, as the Government is well-equipped to detect and handle any possible case or cases, and urged Nigerians not to fall for the antics of purveyors of fakes news and disinformation
“We know that at times like this, purveyors of fake news and disinformation usually ramp up their acts. We are therefore urging Nigerians not to fall for the antics of purveyors of fakes news and disinformation
“Fortunately, Facebook is working with us in this regard. They have asked Nigerians to report any false or misleading report on Facebook and Instagram pages so they can immediately bring them down.
“They have also assured us that they are taking preemptive action to remove any false or harmful messages about this epidemic and public health in Nigeria 24/7.
“All that Nigerians are required to do is to flag any false or misleading report on the epidemic and Facebook will remove any such report,” he added.
CORONAVIRUS: SANWO-OLU URGES RESIDENTS NOT TO PANIC, SAYS PATIENT ‘IN STABLE CONDITION’
…Health Workers On The Trail Of Victim’s Contacts
How Lagos Govt Diagnosed Patient
Lagos State Government has raised its level of response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) incident, following a reported case of a patient diagnosed with the infectious viral disease in the State in the early hours of Friday. This is coming, just as the Chief Incident Commander and the State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, allayed fears of residents on spread of the virus.
The Governor also offered more information on how the patient was identified and efforts currently being made to prevent the spread of the virus.
The patient, Sanwo-Olu said, is an Ogun State-based expatriate who flew into Lagos from Milan in Italy via Istanbul, Turkey last Monday evening. The Governor said the patient, whose name was not disclosed, remained in stable condition at the bio-security facility in Yaba, Lagos Mainland, where he is being isolated.
It was gathered that the patient, although, tested positive to COVID-19 virus, is yet to show any respiratory symptoms at press time. He complained of fever and body pain, which prompted his transfer from Ogun State to Lagos for advanced medical investigation.
Sanwo-Olu said a number of persons, who had physical contact with the patient before the virus was diagnosed, are being traced, while others are currently being examined for possible symptoms.
The Governor shared these details during a first press conference held on Friday at the State House in Marina to brief the public on the matter. Top State officials at the conference included Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon. Gbolahan Lawal, Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Folashade Jaji and Director General of Lagos State Safety Commission, Mr. Lanre Mojola.
Sanwo-Olu said there should be no cause for panic among Nigerians over the reported COVID-19 incident, stressing that measures had been set in motion by the State and Federal governments to contain the spread of the virus across the country. He particularly allayed the fear of Lagos residents, saying the two bio-security facilities in the State had the capability to contain the virus.
He said: “At 10pm on Thursday, I got a call from the Commissioner of Health, who reported possible identification of patient with coronavirus in Ogun State. Immediately, we triggered all levels of bio-security responses and containment facilities. After series of laboratory examination, the patient was confirmed to have tested positive to the virus in early hours of today (Friday) and we immediately alerted the federal authorities, including the President and everybody who needs to be aware. We are in constant touch with the company where the patient was engaged. The management and personnel of the company have been cooperative.
“Health workers and emergency officials are on the field to track all persons that had physical contacts and interaction with the patient. Our bio-security facilities have been fortified to continue any form of test and contain any other potential case. We are in constant touch with the Federal Ministry of Health to harmonise our response to the incident. For us in Lagos, we are doing anything that needs to be done. The patient is stable and every health intervention required is currently being given to him.”
On how the patient scaled through health screening at the Lagos airport without being detected, Sanwo-Olu said investigation showed the virus did not manifest in the patient at the time he passed through the airport. The incident, he said, prompted the Government to immediately trigger advanced end-to-end screening for passengers flying into Nigeria, especially from high-risk countries.
The Governor said there would not be prohibition of public gatherings and regular activities in Lagos despite the diagnosed case of COVID-19, pointing out that such measure may give rise to needless panic among the general public. He said the condition of the patient was not “highly contagious” at the moment, adding that the State would only ban outdoor gatherings in the case of escalation in person-to-person transmission of the virus.
He said: “It is only when there is a high level of escalation that the public can be panicky and this is when we realise that it is getting to person-to-person transmission. As we have said, this isolated case has been contained right from the hospital where he was first admitted and the guesthouse he slept after his arrival in Nigeria. It is when there is a person-to-person infection that we can trigger another level of isolation and curtail public events where large number of people can gather. I don’t think we have gotten to that level yet.”
Sanwo-Olu also cleared the air on why the patient was transferred to Lagos after the incident was reported in Ogun State, saying the Federal Government only established testing centres to prevent to coronavirus in States that have international airports. Lagos, the Governor said, is the only State in the Southwest that has testing centres. He said the State was also considered based on its sophisticated bio-security facilities, which were established during the outbreak of Ebola virus.
Prof. Abayomi explained how the diagnosis was carried out, following the patient’s complaint of fever and body pain. He said the patient started to show signs of illness on Wednesday afternoon, after which he was presented at the Ogun State-based firm’s hospital where investigation began.
He said: “Investigation began at the hospital after the patient gave history of his trip to Nigeria. The medical personnel at the company’s hospital kept the patient in isolation overnight and contacted us at the bio-security in Lagos for assistance. We immediately asked them to transfer the case to Lagos. The patient was brought to our high-containment in Yaba on Thursday morning.
“Immediately the patient arrived, he was put in proper isolation and appropriate tests were conducted on him. Within hours, we received signals that the laboratory tests were showing signs of positivity. At that point, we informed the Federal Minister of Health and Governor Sanwo-Olu, who is the Chief Incident Commander in Lagos.”
The Health Commissioner said the patient was responding well under a supportive therapy, saying efforts were on to identify all persons that had physical contact with the patient to break the cycle of transmission.
He disclosed that the State remained prepared to contain potential spread of the virus, observing that Lagos had wrapped up the capacity of its containment facility to 80-bed as a result of the emergency funds released by the Governor.
Prof. Abayomi said more capabilities were being put in place by the State to deal with increase number of cases. He said aggressive public awareness campaign was going on to sensitise residents on hygiene and activities that can prevent the spread of virus.
Detection process took less than 2 hours —Investigation
By Chioma Obinna
Sources at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital , LUTH, where the Coronavirus index case was diagnosed said that the detection process leading to the confirmation of the case took less than two hours.
A source from the Molecular Laboratory at LUTH who spoke to Saturday Vanguard said the two hours were for both extraction of the Ribonucleic Acid , RNA, and detection using Real Time, Polymerase Chain Reaction, PCR.
The source also hinted that the Real Time PCR was established by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, with both internal controls and positive controls that was assayed along with the sample.
“The assay had been set up and earlier tested with panels of samples for the optimization of the testing platform for weeks before now.
“The Laboratory personnels had also been adequately trained on the RT-PCR platform for such detection.”
On treatment, the sources told Saturday Vanguard that there is the possibility antiretroviral drugs and possibly chloroquine would be used as it is being applied in other countries experiencing same outbreak.
The source noted that other palliative care and support will also be used to relieve symptoms.
Coronavirus: NCDC deploys response team to Lagos
- As WHO says no country should assume it won’t get cases
By Chioma Obinna
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, has deployed its Rapid Response Teams to support the Lagos State Government, as Nigeria records first case of the Coronavirus (COVID19).
The Federal Ministry of Health had in early hour of Friday morning confirmed a case of coronavirus (Covid-19) case in Lagos.
The case was the first to be reported in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa since the outbreak of the virus in China.
Disclosing this in a tweet @NCDCgov, the Director General of the Centre, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said that the centre, being proactive had earlier set up @NCDCgov to work 24 hours to ensure that the country is on top of the situation.
“We are dealing with a new virus. There are 47 countries that have reported at least 1 case
“A case is not a sign of failure. Our @NCDCgov. was set up for situations like this. We are working 24/7 with the relevant state governments”
He warned Nigerians to avoid rumours and panic.
No country should assume it won’t get cases— WHO
Meanwhile the WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has disclosed that as of 6 am Geneva time Friday, China had reported a total of 78,630 cases of COVID-19 to WHO, including 27,47 deaths even as he warned that no country should assume it won’t get cases.
Speaking during one of the virtual press briefings “Outside China, the Director General said there are now 3474 cases in 44 countries, and 54 deaths. We are at a decisive point.”
He added that for the past two days, the number of new cases reported in the rest of the world has exceeded the number of new cases in China.
“And in the past 24 hours, seven countries have reported cases for the first time: Brazil, Georgia, Greece, North Macedonia, Norway, Pakistan and Romania.”
He advised countries affected that they should see it as their window of opportunity, adding that if they act aggressively now, they can contain the spread of the virus.
“You can prevent people getting sick. You can save lives. So my advice to these countries is to move swiftly.
“The epidemics in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Italy and the Republic of Korea demonstrate what this virus is capable of. But this virus is not influenza. With the right measures, it can be contained. That is one of the key messages from China.”
“In Guangdong, scientists tested more than 320,000 samples from the community and only 0.14 percent tested positive for COVID-19. That suggests that containment is possible.
“No country should assume it won’t get cases. That could be a fatal mistake, quite literally. This virus does not respect borders. It does not distinguish between races or ethnicities. It has no regard for a country’s GDP or level of development.
“The point is not only to prevent cases arriving on your shores. The point is what you do when you have cases.”
He, however, stated that they are not hopeless and defenseless because there are things every country and every person can do.
He challenged countries to be ready to detect cases early, to isolate patients, trace contacts, provide quality clinical care, prevent hospital outbreaks, and prevent community transmission.
He disclosed that the virus was not usually a runny nose but in 90 percent of cases it’s a fever and in 70 percent of cases a dry cough.
“We’ve shipped testing kits to 57 countries and personal protective equipment to 85 countries who need it. We have trained more than 80,000 health workers through our online courses, in multiple languages. We’ve issued operational guidelines, with concrete actions countries can take in eight key areas to prevent, detect and manage cases.
He warned that fear and panic does not help, the most important thing is to calm down and do the right things to fight this very dangerous virus.
Ogun cordons off Lafarge facilities in Ewekoro
By James Ogunnaike
Ogun State government on Friday confirmed the outbreak of Coronavirus in the state, saying that it has shut down facilities of Lafarge Cement Company in Ewekoro, Ewekoro Local Government Area of the state, where the individual had contact with.
About 28 members of the staff of the company who had contact with the confirmed case have been quarantined.
The State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tomi Coker, who disclosed this to journalists at a press conference in Abeokuta, said that the shutting down of Lafarge Cement facilities in Ewekoro became imperative because the Italian national confirmed to have imported the virus into Nigeria happened to be a consultant with the company.
Coker explained that the Italian national arrived the state and visited the Lafarge facilities on Tuesday, but developed body ache on Wednesday morning, thereby necessitating his being admitted at the company’s healthcare center in Ewekoro.
She added that the individual was transferred to Lagos where he was diagnosed with the virus.
She said: “In the last 12 hours, the first case of coronavirus has been identified in Nigeria and the individual was visiting Ogun State. The said individual is of Italian origin, a consultant to the Lafarge Cement Factory in Ewekoro” .
“He arrived in Nigeria on Monday, 24 of February about 9pm. Before arriving in Ogun State, he had made contact with three people, spent the night in Lagos State and arrived Ewekoro on Tuesday morning in Ogun State. He stayed at a guest house and at about 4-5pm on Wednesday, he developed body ache and fever”.
“The staff clinic of Lafarge was very sensitive to the case, they responded speedily and contacted Lagos, they had a high index of suspicion and once they contacted Lagos, the protocol kicked in and the individual was transferred to Lagos in a closed ambulance according to protocol”.
“He was transferred to the infectious disease centre in Yaba, Lagos where tests were ran and a definite confirmation came out earlier this morning hence, the press release nationally and from Lagos”.
“However, my colleague, the Commissioner for Health in Lagos contacted me very early this morning to alert us about the situation”, Coker said.
“My message to the people of Ogun State is, there is no cause for alarm. They are listing every contact that this individual has had which means we are going to phone them, get in touch with them, get their phone numbers, quarantine them and monitor their temperature for two weeks”.
“Individually, we have to be responsible for our health. Every single one of us has to have good respiratory hygiene which means that if we have a cough or we have a cold we have to cover our mouths with tussles or handkerchiefs and dispose them responsibly. Don’t leave them on surfaces because the virus could still be in those things, use them and dispose them immediately, don’t put them back in your pockets”.
“We also have to make sure that we wash our hands regularly with flowing water, not in a bowl. Soap and water are one of the most infective ways to avoid transmission. And we have to use alcohol based sanitisers”.
She added, “Should there be anyone in your vicinity that has a cold or cough, I’m imploring these people to avail themselves to the primary health care centres nearest to them, please do not go to a private hospital or a herbalist or use traditional medicine. This is not the time to start using alternative medicines because when we use alternative medicines, we are delaying diagnosis and the health that is at hand”.
“So if you feel unwell, we have over 521 primary healthcare centres in Ogun State, there is at least one in each ward. There are adequate government hospitals doted around the State”.
However, the Commissioner affirmed that the State through the Ministry of Health has put measures in place to ensure the outbreak in the state is controlled and contained quickly.
She gave out Coronavirus emergency hotline numbers to be contacted in case of manifest symptoms to include 08188978393, 08188978392.
It was gathered that a man, who identified himself as an Uber operator in Lagos picked the Italian from the airport when he arrived the country took him to hotel.
He said on his Twitter angle “I had contact with Italian citizen the day before yesterday. Am an Uber driver I picked him at airport.”
Edo Ministry of Health says an emergency operation centre in Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital has been activated for treatment of both coronavirus and lassa fever cases.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr Patrick Okundia, said at a news conference on Friday in Benin that the state government had delegated a team of health officials to enquire about the flight manifest that brought the Italian infected with coronavirus to the country.
He said that a team had been sent to the airport to get information on list of passengers and crew members on board the flight that brought the Italian into the country.
Okundia added that surveillance officers had been placed on red alert to carry out active case search in all health facilities and points of entries into the state.
According to him, the state’s Ministry of Health has commenced sensitisation of staff of Benin Airport on screening modalities of air travellers.
He said “there is ongoing awareness creation and sensitisation of the public on the novel coronavirus in various news media. Sensitisation of healthcare workers across the health facilities in the 18 local government areas has also started,”
The commissioner said that the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH), Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control’s National Reference Laboratory in Abuja have the coronavirus testing machines.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that an Italian, who boarded a Turkish airline, has been confirmed positive with the coronavirus by the Virology Laboratory of LUTH, the first reported case in Nigeria since the outbreak in China.
Anxiety in Edo over coronavirus detection as screening begins at Benin airport
By Ozioruva Aliu
THERE is anxiety in Benin City, Edo state capital and other parts of the state over the detection of corona virus on an Italian that visited Nigeria from Milan, Italy few days ago.
This development has created fears among residents as there is hardly any family in Benin City and environs that do not have members in Europe and particularly Italy so there are fears that some persons from the state may have travelled with the victim on the same flight to Nigeria and these persons may have visited home.
Chairman of Red Cross in Edo state, Festus Alenkhe yesterday told Saturday Vanguard that the screening of passengers at the airport would begin from Monday.
He said “We Just had a meeting now with officials of NEMA and FAAN in Edo. From next week, our volunteers will be at the Benin airport to join the health personnel in screening travellers.
Beware, Coronavirus can spread through telephone, tables, desks —WHO
By Gabriel Olawale
World Health Organization has called for promotion of regular and thorough hand-washing hygiene. The body said that coronavirus (COVID-19) can be contacted when someone infected coughs or exhales.
The global heath body said that people can contacted the virus if a droplet of infected fluid fell on nearby surfaces and objects such as desks, tables or telephones.
“People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. If they are standing within 1 or 2 meters of a person with COVID-19 they can catch it by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by them.
“In other words, COVID-19 spreads in a similar way flu does. Most persons infected with COVID-19 experience mild symptoms and recover. However, some go on to experience more serious illness and may require hospital care.
“Risk of serious illness rises with age, people over 40 years seem to be more vulnerable. People with weakened immune systems and people with conditions such as diabetes, heart and lung disease are also more vulnerable to serious illness.
Simple ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your workplace
Make sure your workplaces are clean and hygienic, surfaces (e.g. desks and tables) and objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly. Why? Because contamination on surfaces touched by employees and customers is one of the main ways that COVID-19 spreads.
Promote regular and thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors and customers. Put sanitizing hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the workplace. Make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled. Display posters promoting hand-washing, ask your local public health authority for these or look on www.WHO.int.
Make sure that staff, contractors and customers have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water. Washing kills the virus on your hands and prevents the spread of COVID-19.
Promote good respiratory hygiene in the workplace. Display posters promoting respiratory hygiene. Combine this with other communication measures such as offering guidance from occupational health and safety officers, briefing at meetings and information on the internet etc.
Ensure that face masks and / or paper tissues are available at your workplaces, for those who develop a runny nose or cough at work, along with closed bins for hygienically disposing of them. Good respiratory hygiene prevents the spread of COVID-19.
Advise employees and contractors to consult national travel advice before going on business trips. Brief your employees, contractors and customers that if COVID-19 starts spreading in your community anyone with even a mild cough or low grade fever (37.3 C or more) needs to stay at home.