The Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 confirmed five new cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Nigeria within the last 36 hours, bringing the total number of cases to eight.
Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, confirmed this development at a news conference in Abuja.
Ehanire said that of the five new positive cases, three arrived from the United States, while two came in from UK.
He added: “We are still collating information on the travellers; two of the three from the U.S. are Nigerians, a mother and child, making the six-week old baby the youngest COVID-19 patient.
“The third is an American who crossed the land border and becomes the first COVID-19 case not arriving by air.
“The two cases from the UK are Nigerians,’’ he said.
According to the minister, a detailed travel history of each person is being compiled and contacts currently being traced to identify persons who have recently been in contact with anyone of them.
Ehanire said that the National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) led by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and supported by partners is supporting response in the states.
“The Federal Government, through Federal Ministry of Health, is conducting risk assessment to help guide decision making.
“We urge citizens not to panic but allow experts in public health to guide response in a calculated and scientific manner.
“False information and rumour to cause fear and panic must be avoided at such times.
“The COVID-19 cases so far appear to have mild symptoms and people recover from it.”
In addition, the minister urged Nigerians to protect themselves and their families, saying: “I urge everyone to continue to take care and caution as advised.
“Government will do the needful to protect citizens’ health,’’ he said.
He noted that the Presidential Task Force for the Control of Coronavirus (COVID-19) had on Tuesday announced interventions toward containing spread of the virus.
He listed the interventions as:
- Prohibition of all travel by public servants.
- Suspension of visa on arrival policy till further notice.
- A firm travel advisory against non-essential travel to high burden countries, especially in view of the number of Nigerians who arrived from U.S. and Europe and diagnosed in the past 48 hours with coronavirus infection.
- A requirement that all persons returning from overseas should self-isolate for observation for 14 days, even if they feel well. NCDC will disseminate information on the practice.
- Supervised self-isolation, including testing of persons returning from nations with community transmission of more than 1,000 cases cumulatively for 14 days by NCDC and Port Health Services.
- Federal Government will restrict entry to Nigeria of persons from listed high burden countries with effect from Friday, March 20 for a period of four weeks. The countries are China, Japan, Iran, Italy, Republic of Korea, France, Germany and Spain.
- A reminder that citizens maintain hand hygiene and standard respiratory etiquette.
The minister, however, said FMoH, through NCDC, would continue to provide accurate and reliable updates.
He stressed that “we will continue to provide updates as and when they are available and take available measures to control spread of infectious disease outbreaks in Nigeria.”
By Cecilia Ologunagba/ Racheal Abujah