Doris Obinna and Henry Uche, Lagos
The Lagos State Ministry of Health has said the state is being proactive and in constant talk with the Chinese government through its embassy in Nigeria to urge its citizens to remain in their country until the coronavirus outbreak and is curtailed.
Briefing newsmen, the Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi, said there are about 6,000 cases of the coronavirus and out of which over 100 deaths had been recorded in 18 countries. He said the virus spreads via person-to-person contact, as well as through droplets.
The commissioner stressed that the state among other African cities is vulnerable owing to its mass population and movement of people in and out, noting that families who travelled from China to Nigeria during Chinese festival and back to China are potential threats to the country.
He maintained that the ministry is following directives and in close contact with World Health Organization (WHO) at an international level, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) at the national level and other health agencies.
He added that the ministry had activated an Emergency Operating Center (EOC) with several arms to prosecute its mandate, which includes surveillance, case management, diagnosis, among others.
“We are in close contact with the Federal Airport Authority (FAAN) and other health agencies at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos to ensure migrants get through screening. We are working on additional recommendations particularly on patients coming in through airlines and we are proud of the escalation and sophistication of infrastructure.
“However, we have limited ability to manage patients in terms of the number of beds available. We are in contact with trade authorities to see how to curtail the movement of Nigerian in and out of China until we are certain that the infection is over; those coming from China must reduce their contact with people for some time until it’s clear they don’t have the infection.”
On symptoms to look out for, Abayomi said: “If anyone feels sour throat, strange fever, nasal/muscle ache, and it’s not usual malaria, then you are advised to visit our general hospitals to be managed by our special medical practitioners.
“We are passionate about this case; the governor has requested for an update on the issue, and I assure Lagosians that we must do everything possible to make sure we don’t have this infection in Lagos.
“We are putting structures in place to wage war against it, but please do not treat yourself at home; if you have been exposed, let us know. In case, you notice the above signs, you can call any of these numbers 08023169485, 08023169483, 08033565529, 08052817243 or visit our general hospitals.
“Early detection and treatment are far better. Countries affected are suffering from investment decline and other economic hardship, but we won’t let that be our portion, but we must be vigilant,” he charged.