The Lagos State Government has alerted the public over the Novel Coronavirus, a new ailment believed to have emanated from South East Asia.
To prevent any kind of transmission of any contagious infection, Prof. Akin Abayomi, the Commissioner for Health, advised members of the public to take precautions such as regular hand washing; covering of mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing; avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing; and, practice good biosecurity precautions with domestic and wild animals.
On December 31, 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO), China Country Office, was informed of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause, detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. A novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was identified as the causative virus by Chinese authorities on January 7, 2020.
As of January 22, a total of 471 cases had been confirmed in South East Asia and USA with nine deaths. According to health experts, there is evidence that the infection can spread from person to person.
No cases have been identified in Nigeria or anywhere in Africa.
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. Coronaviruses are primarily infections of animals that can be transmitted to humans.
The common signs and symptoms of infection, it was gathered, include fever, cough, shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Prof. Ababyomi stated 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 its Biosecurity facility and isolation wards located at the Mainland Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, in the event of any suspected case arriving in the state.
He said: “Lagos is ramping up its level of preparedness considering the large commercial trading traffic between Nigeria and China/Thailand. We are in touch with National Centre for Disease Control 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.
“The Lagos State Government is very committed to the health and safety of her citizen and there is no cause for panic or alarm. If anyone travelling from South East Asia or who has had contact with a traveler from that region and who is experiencing the above symptoms is advised to go to the nearest health facility for immediate assessment and further treatment.”