State Minister for Health

• No stopping foreigners from coming in to Nigeria – Minister

The Federal Government of Nigeria says it has no plans to impose travel restrictions on visitors from countries where corona virus continues to spread rapidly. However,  it said it has decided to screen visitors entering the country from  China (where the disease originated last year), Japan, Iran, Italy, Germany, France,  South  Korea and Spain. The virus was brought to Nigeria by an Italian man who arrived in Lagos aboard a Turkish Airlines plane on February 24. He travelled from  Lagos to Ogun State before he was quarantined in the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos. There have been other reported cases of the virus, but they proved negative. Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Monday,  the Minister of  State for Health, Dr Olorunnibe Mamora, said the Federal Government  decided to screen visitors from the eight countries after the World Health Organisation declared the corona virus outbreak a  pandemic.

Mamora said, “Despite we have not recorded a confirmed COVID-19 case in the last one week in Nigeria, it is important to remember that we are still at high risk like other countries. We will continue to monitor returning travellers that fit our case definition and improve our surveillance, detection and risk communications.

“We have carried out a review of our case definition. We have added three new countries to the existing list of five high-risk countries with widespread community transmission. These are France, Germany and Spain. Therefore, eight countries are on our priority list – China, Japan, Iran, Italy, Republic of Korea, France and Germany.

“Travellers from these eight countries will undertake secondary screening at the point of entry. They are also advised to self-isolate for 14 days on entry.”

He said between  January 7 and March 15,  48 people who had contact with the Italian were screened for corona virus in Edo, Lagos, Ogun, Yobe, Rivers, Kano, Enugu States and the Federal Capital Territory.

Mamora added, “Forty-seven people have tested negative and have been cleared. One was positive (after contact with the index case) and one result is pending. There has been no death.

“The index case is clinically stable and has improved greatly.”

Enugu woman tests negative

Also, the minister said the woman that was placed in isolation in Enugu after being suspected of having corona virus symptoms tested negative after the results came out on Sunday night. He said, “In Enugu, a woman in her 70s returned from the UK and had symptoms of fever and mild respiratory illness. Her sample was collected for laboratory diagnosis and tested negative for COVID-19.

“Therefore, as of March 15, Nigeria has recorded two confirmed cases of COVID-19. One case is now negative and has been discharged from hospital.”

He advised Nigerians to not believe those saying black people were immune to coronavirus. He said,  “We should be conscious of not being complacent; the price to pay is huge. I have heard some of my friends saying the black man’s gene is resistant and so COVID-19 is not for us. We have had black men, even from Nigeria who are dead now. We have the story of a Nigerian doctor in Italy, he was a black man. We should not say that the tropical setting will not allow it. Research continues on COVID-19,”

No cotonavirus in Delta, says Health commissioner

Meanwhile, the  Delta State Commissioner for Health, Dr Mordi Ononye,  insists that there is no corona virus case in the state, urging Delta residents not to panic. According to PUNCH News, there were rumours of corona virus outbreak in the Sapele Local Government Area of the state, but Ononye told reporters in Asaba on Monday that residents should regard the rumours as fake news.

According to him, the Rapid Response Team, an emergency committee put up by the state government,  is working hard to ensure that the disease does not spread to the state. The commissioner said they would not stop any form of social gathering because of coronavirus fears. He said that the state government was working with the Federal Government, the National Centre for  Disease Control and others to contain any case of the disease. The Incident Manager, Emergency Operation Committee for COVID-19, Dr Ann Ojimba, said the isolation centre at the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba, had been equipped with good facilities. She said, “The 11 facilities in the state have holding centres and as such, there is no need to panic.

“The state public health centres are on the red alert, we are trying to do what we call active surveillance and intensive risk communication to mitigate the incidence of the disease.

“We have to develop a new culture, a new habit of not touching our face, no more handshaking but with  your elbows.”

The head of the  NCDC in the state, Dr Belu Abaye, said the state government had switched from watch mode to alert mode and had sustained the alert mode to ensure that the disease was contained in case of any outbreak.

Lucky/NP/PUNCH News


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