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Lagos joins battle to deny Coronavirus entry into Nigeria

The Lagos State has joined the battle to ensure that Coronavirus, which is making its way from China to the rest of the world, does not gain entry into Nigeria, the government said.

The novel coronavirus, known as 2019-nCoV, was discovered first in the central Chinese city of Wuhan has left at least 17 people dead and as of Wednesday, about 544 cases of infection reported in China alone.

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“We are in touch with Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) in Abuja to align our strategies. Importantly we are also collaborating with the Federal Ports Authority at air, land and sea border posts to elevate screening and surveillance of incoming travelers”, Akin Abayomi, Commissioner for Health, said in a statement. He said that no cases of the virus had been identified in Lagos, Nigeria or anywhere in Africa.

The commissioner said that the Lagos State Biosecurity team in collaboration with Lagos University Teaching Hospital is currently working on building urgent capacity to identify the virus in our Biosecurity facility and isolation wards located at the Mainland Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba in the event of any suspected case arriving in Lagos State.

Lagos State, under the leadership of Babatunde Raji Fashola as governor, played a key role in the fight against Ebola’s entry into Nigeria in 2014. The deadly virus entered Nigeria through a Liberian diplomat, Patrick Oliver Sawyer, on July 20 of that year, but a comprehensive and effective network set up by the Lagos State government contained the spread within five days to 19 people, out of which seven died.

Abayomi urged citizens to adopt and practice high standard of personal and environmental hygiene including regular hand washing, covering of mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing and practice good biosecurity precautions with domestic and wild animals as measures against the transmission of any kind contagious infection, nCoV inclusive.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said Wednesday that it is currently coordinating a multi-sectoral technical group that is assessing and managing the risk of importation to Nigeria as the disease has already spread abroad, with cases in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and, the United State.

“The recent emergence of a novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China, and its spread to other countries within weeks reminds us of the threat infectious diseases pose to all countries”, Chikwe Ihekweazu, chief executive officer of NCDC wrote on his tweeter handle — @Chikwe_I tweeted

In light of the rapid spread of the virus,” through the risk of spread to Nigeria is moderate according to World Health Organisation (WHO), we remain at alert and continue to strengthen preparedness,” he tweeted.

The first case of a novel (new) coronavirus (2019nCoV) strain was confirmed in China on the 7th of January 2020. According to preliminary investigations, most patients either visited or worked in the Huanan Seafood wholesale market, Wuhan city.

A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain of the virus that has not been previously identified in humans. Some coronaviruses can be transmitted from person to person, usually after close contact with an infected patient, for example, in a household or health care setting. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.

However, the NCDC advised Nigerians in a statement released on Wednesday 22nd January to remain calm, stating that travelers from Nigeria to Wuhan, China, are advised to avoid contact with sick people, animals (alive or dead), and animal markets.

The agency noted that travelers from Wuhan to Nigeria may be asked questions upon arrival by the port health services unit at points of entry about symptoms of illness and travel history, and are advised to report immediately to NCDC, if they fell ill after a trip to Wuhan.

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