Coronavirus: Senate seeks self-isolation for travellers from China

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THE Senate  on Thursday  urged the Federal Ministry of Aviation to ensure that all persons arriving from China  isolate  themselves  by staying  alone in their homes for at least two weeks before mixing with the general public.

Such persons, said the Senate, include Chinese citizens from Nigeria that travelled for the one-week Chinese Lunar New Year festivities.

The Senate also extended the call for self-isolation to travellers from other countries that have experienced outbreak of the raging  coronavirus.

Besides, it called on Nigerians desirous of traveling to any of the Asian counties to defer their arrangements until the  virus outbreak is eliminated.

At least 15 countries, including Germany, France, Japan, United States, Canada  have confirmed infections, with India reporting its first case on Thursday.

Many countries have urged their citizens not to visit China  while many global airlines suspended flights to the world most populous nation.

On Thursday, Russia   ordered the closure of its huge land border with China to prevent the  disease from spreading to its territory.

Bavaria Motor Works (BMW) also said on Thursday  it was closing three of its factories in the Chinese city of Shenyang till February 9,  amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

While debating a motion titled: “Coronavirus outbreak and preventive response towards stemming it’s Spread  to Nigeria,” the Senate  urged  the Federal Government to allocate more funds to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in order to acquire the latest equipment for research and diagnosis of tropical diseases that threaten human existence.

Sponsor of the  motion  and  Chairman, Senate Committee on Communicable Diseases,  Chukwuka   Utazi, in his lead debate,  noted that the virus is spread through “the air by coughing or sneezing, close personal contact, touching a contaminated object or surface, and rarely by faecal contamination.”

He added that coronavirus was previously reported to cause severe symptoms such as acute respiratory syndrome, following the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov) outbreak that began in Wuhan, China.

Utazi recalled that, in response to the outbreak of the killer-virus, “China put millions of people in three of its cities on lockdown in an effort to contain a coronavirus outbreak that has killed 170    and infected more than 630 persons.”

He said: “Health officials fear the number of infected people will rise rapidly as hundreds of millions of Chinese people travel within China and abroad during the weeklong Lunar New Year which begin  Saturday.”

Utazi also noted the efforts being made by Nigerian authorities to prevent a possible outbreak of the virus in the country.

He said that the Federal Ministry of Health through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has risen to the occasion by monitoring the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by the novel (new) coronavirus.

Two other senators— Jibrin Barau and James Manager— who contributed to the debate, compared Coronavirus to Ebola  and urged the Federal Government to rise up to the occasion.

In its resolutions, the Senate urged Nigerians with any reported cases of likely infection or with symptoms approximate to those associated with Coronavirus to visit hospitals for urgent health check.

The upper chamber while also calling on the Federal Government to allocate more funds to the  NCDC, advised Nigerians to maintain good personal hygiene by constantly washing their hands with water and soap or through the use of liquid sanitizers.

Southeast Amalgamated Market  Traders Association (SEAMATA), an umbrella body of all traders in the Southeast, also urged its members and other Nigerians  to shelve all   trips to China and Far East countries.

The appeal was  contained in a statement  by the President-General of SEAMATA,  Gozie Akudolu, and  Secretary-General Alex Okwudili .

It  said   its members  and other traders across the country  should  be on the  alert over the outbreak of the virus   in China and Far East countries, which are their  business destinations .

The statement reads in part: “The association calls on all members to use for now, electronic and internet channels in dealing with their partners in China and other Asian countries until a remarkable improvement in the control of the deadly coronavirus is achieved and the virus totally eradicated.

“In line with the advice of the Federal Ministry of Health, the association is reminding our teeming members across the federation to always make use of surgical masks in crowded places.

“Traders and Nigerians in general should maintain a very high standard of personal hygiene and always have hand sanitizers handy to keep the risk of infection at a distance.’’

The statement reminded Nigerians to always remember that “once anyone is infected with the virus, the individual’s household members, friends, associates and indeed the entire society including the churches and markets are in a serious danger.

“This is the reason we should try to avoid trips to nations battling with the virus presently for now, until the situation is under control.”

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