Officer-in-Charge of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Nigeria, Dr Clement Peter, has commended Federal Government’s efforts “to the timely response to the first case of Covid-19 (coronavirus) in the country”.
Peter gave the commendation at a news conference for update on the disease, organised by the Federal Ministry of Health on Friday, February 28, 2020 in Abuja.
Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, had earlier on Friday confirmed that an Italian citizen working in Nigeria and returned from Milan, Italy, to Lagos, Nigeria, on Feb. 25, 2020 tested positive to the virus.
The WHO officer said: “It is commendable that Nigeria speedily detected the case and is addressing the matter in Lagos.
“We have been working with Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to provide support on how to control spread.
“I am proud to say that NCDC is one the best control centres in Africa and we will continue to partner with the centre to address the situation.
“Now that we have a reported case in Nigeria, what is important is control and we will also facilitate other partners to support Nigeria.”
The official, however, called on journalists to report the virus accurately and to inform the public on the right things to do to prevent infection.
Earlier, Ehanire said that the ministry had keyed into the Africa Strategy to prevent the spread of the virus in the country.
He, however, expressed concern that “coronavirus spreads easily because patients do not show symptoms immediately and might not know they have the virus for days.
“The man (Italian citizen) walked through the screening with no symptoms, but a day after he started to feel unwell, he wisely went to a hospital and the doctor examined him.
“He tested negative for malaria, and he was immediately referred to the virology Laboratory of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), which is part of the Laboratory Network of NCDC, where he tested positive for Covid-19 and he was immediately put under strict isolation.
“We have been in touch with the aircraft authorities to find out who his seatmates were and how many people could possibly been infected.
“We will do everything possible and use every resource to limit and contain this virus so it does not spread.”
According to the minister, Nigeria will continue to follow WHO guidelines and will not put restriction on international travel or begin to quarantine travellers.
He said government would intensify screening at points of entry to prevent further importation of the virus.
“We will follow WHO guidelines because stopping international travel can backfire. So, as long as we can control it, we do not need to overreact, we are working with WHO.
“I only advice people to keep a social distance from people coughing and sneezing and observe respiratory hygiene,” he said.
He explained that as part of efforts to tighten response, Federal Government had increased reagents for testing so that it would not run short of testing kit.
The minister assured that there would be no shortage of the testing reagent and face masks in the county as necessary stakeholders had been contacted for its production.
He also said that the four laboratories across the country have full capacity to respond to the virus.
He recalled that Nigeria had already obtained treatment protocol from China, which was used to treat over 5,000 patients in that country.
Ehanire said that Nigeria would continue working with WHO, while training and capacity building was ongoing to tackle the virus.
The minister, who said that the identity of the patient from Italy would not be made public without his permission, noted that the Nigeria case is the third Covid-19 in Africa after Egypt and Algeria.
It is reported that over 83,000 people in at least 53 countries have been infected and more than 2,800 have died.