COVID-19: When Nigeria gets on the virus watch list

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When COVID-19 (corona virus) broke out in the WUHAN Province of China on December 30, 2019, the question on the lips of stakeholders was not if, but when it will, like others before it, berth in Nigeria.

Though the Federal Government through its National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had set up emergency control centres across the states with special attention on strategic entry points, including Lagos, which equally boosted its preparedness with the setting up of an Incidence Monitoring Committee headed by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the nation did not have to wait much longer as it recorded its index case of the virus last Friday, February 28.

An Italian, who entered Lagos, via the Turkish Airlines and proceeded to AGIP Saipem Head-office on Banana Island, on Thursday, before heading to Larfarge Production plant at Ewekoro, in Ogun State, had suddenly taken ill with symptoms similar to corona virus. He had since been diagnosed of corona virus and quarantined at the Bio-security facility at Yaba.

The Chief Incident Commander and the State Governor, Mr. Sanwo-Olu, who paid a visit to the centre on Sunday again allayed fears of residents on spread of the virus.

The Governor also offered more information on how the patient was identified, said the patient, 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.

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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 all those who had physical contact with the patient before the virus was diagnosed, are being traced, while others are currently being examined for possible symptoms. He said: “At 10pm on Thursday, I got a call from the Commissioner of Health, who reported possible identification of patient with corona virus 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.

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.

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.

The governor who was at the Bio-security centre on Sunday said Lagosians must take both personal and environmental hygiene very seriously, saying “it must become part of our lives not when we have incidences like this that we begin to learn how to wash our hands or how to secure our environment and how to live healthy.

He also counseled members of the public to be healthy eaters. “People that developed immunity against this type of diseases are people who eat well, sleep well, and live in safe and secured environment.

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