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Nigeria and Coronavirus

beIIII It was  like a nightmare that became a reality for Nigeria as the  first case of  coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa has been confirmed in Africa’s most populous nation.

The patient is an Italian citizen who works in the country. Specifically in Ogun State and flew into the commercial city of Lagos from Milan on Friday,  February 27.

  It came at a time a Nigerian footballer in Italy, King Paul Akpan Udoh,    also contacted the virus, leading to the suspension of the game in the country over the weekend.

 The footballer became the first Nigerian to actually contact the virus.

The Italian who came from Milan via Lagos  has been since quarantined,  with the nation’s health authorities saying he is stable with no serious symptoms and is being treated at a hospital in the city. 

The report came at a time elsewhere on the continent, Algeria, Egypt  and South Africa  also confirmed cases of the disease. South Africa’s health ministry announced that two nationals aboard a cruise ship docked in Japan tested positive to the virus.

From Kenya, the High Court ordered the temporary suspension of flights from China following a petition by the Law Society of Kenya.

It came amidst public outrage after China’s Southern Airlines resumed flights to Nairobi amid concern about the spread of coronavirus.

Globally, more than 80,000 people in nearly 50 countries have been infected while nearly 2,800 have died, with the vast majority in China’s Hubei province.

Meanwhile, the Italian patient, who had flown in from Milan, a city badly hit by the coronavirus outbreak  is reportedly  clinically stable, with no serious symptoms, and is being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.

The patient was screened when he arrived at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos on Tuesday and did not show any symptoms of the virus, according to Nigerian health authorities.

They have obtained the passenger manifest from the airline and started tracking people who had contact with the patient, Health Minister Osagie Emmanuel Ehanire said.

The Minister added that there was no need for alarm as Nigeria was well prepared to deal with the disease, adding that the country had four laboratories where patients can be tested. 

Nigeria has shown some seriousness so far in combating the disease,  as at  least 60 doctors have been deployed to Lagos’ main airport to support the ongoing screening effort.

From the look of things, more doctors may be required at the Airports, while the testing laboratories may have to be expanded to cover most parts of the country. 

The authorities also say Nigeria was not planning to halt flights from affected countries,  nor planning to quarantine those travelling into the country.

However, the president of the Nigeria Medical Association has expressed fears over the safety of health workers in the country.

Nigeria was widely praised for its efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak in 2014 which killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa. But the poser put forward by most Nigerians and the international community is whether the present government is  in the position to contain the present challenge in the same manner the country rose to Ebola virus threat , several years back.

 The World Health Organization (WHO) had warned that Africa’s “fragile health systems” meant the threat posed by the virus was “considerable” especially in Nigeria. The various governments in the South West have taken proactive measures to curb the virus.  No fewer than 100 persons have been quarantined in Ogun and Lagos states where the Italian had been working since his return from Milan. They are  undergoing appropriate medical checks since. The need to increase medical surveillance at the airports and borders becomes imperative at this crucial time.  The Coronavirus is a challenge that can be tackled with all the tiers of government taking collective actions and measures to stem the ugly tide without politicizing it.

On the whole, health authorities are advising people to regularly and thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water, and use alcohol-based hand sanitisers, to avoid contracting the virus.

People have also been told to stay home if they have persistent coughs and sneezes and  to contact authorities if they have any concerns. 

Citizens  have also been told to stay home if they have persistent coughs and sneezes, and contact authorities if they have any concerns. 

We call on Nigerians to take seriously, the advice from health authorities. 

The virus, of course is a global challenge that would require global attention and collaboration. At this critical time, Nigerians require the spirit and the unparalleled determination that saw them quell Ebola challenge to stem the present coronavirus threat

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