The Federal Government said it has commenced contact tracing of the first case of reported Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country to monitor health of people who travelled with the patient to prevent the spread virus.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who said this while answering questions from journalists on Friday, February 28, in Abuja on measures put in place to prevent the spread, had earlier confirmed that an Italian citizen, who works in Nigeria and who returned from Milan, Italy, to Lagos, Nigeria on Tuesday had tested positive to the virus, while assuring the populace that the government was working to prevent the spread of the virus.
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 for Health 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 is concern, 97 per cent of the case that have COVID-19 do recover.
“The terrible thing about it is that it spreads easily and people can get it without knowing.
The minister added that the reported confirmed case was not as a result of failure to screen at the airports, but the nature of the virus, which may not present symptoms at that period of screening.
While commending the Lagos State government for handling the case promptly, as the patient was quickly referred to reference laboratory under controlled transportation and the driver was fully kitted; Dr. Ehanire said that the Federal Government had released N620 million to NCDC to contain the virus and N71 million to port health service.
He added, “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.”
Dr. Ehanire, however, emphasised that the Nigerian government, through the Federal Ministry of Health, had been strengthening measures to ensure that an outbreak in Nigeria was controlled and contained quickly.
The minister further advised all Nigerians to take care of their health and maintain hand and respiratory hygiene to protect themselves and others, including their own families, by following the precautions below:
“Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water, and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
“Maintaining at least 1.5 metres (5 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
“Persons with persistent cough or sneezing should stay home or keep a social distance but not mix in crowd.
“Make sure you and people around you follow good respiratory hygiene, meaning cover your mouth and nose with a handkerchief or tissue or into your sleeve at the bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
“Stay home if you feel unwell with symptoms like fever, cough and difficulty in breathing,’’ he urged.
“Please call NCDC toll free number, which is available day and night for guidance: 0800 970 0000-0010,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, reports that it is the third reported case of COVID-19 in Africa after Egypt and Algeria.