As the world continues to record sharp rise in deaths from the novel coronavirus infection, the Director-General of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr Rufus Ebegba, has tasked staff of the Biosecurity Department on proactive measures to prevent a possible outbreak in the country.
The DG, while speaking at a meeting with staff and stakeholders on Wednesday in Abuja, highlighted the need for the Department of Biosecurity to come up with mechanisms that would help in creating public awareness about the disease as well as what the Agency is doing.
According to him, mechanisms such as logos, pamphlets among others, containing information about the disease and what the citizens should do and who to contact in the case of suspected infection should be put in place.
He noted that the essence of the meeting was to ensure that coronavirus and any other harmful Biological Agent does not take the country by surprise.
“We need to be adequately prepared and take proactive steps about these harmful biological agents and to ensure that they are properly contained so that they do not cause harm to humans and the environment.
“We need to be conscious of what is on the ground and how to tackle it and to work with other sister agencies to ensure that this virus is well tackled. Biosecurity has now become part of the mandate of the agency and there is the need to develop this mandate.
“Biosecurity is a serious issue and we must prove our relevance in this sector. As an agency in charge of biosecurity we must rub minds on how best harmful biological agents can be contained and eliminate,” he said.
Egbeba further emphasised that Nigerians should take precautionary measures such as proper handwashing, seeking adequate medical care in case of any flu or symptoms similar to flu and avoiding centres where the outbreak is prevalent.
“This coronavirus can affect the lungs and symptoms include common colds and flu and can spread person to person by coughing and sneezing. Its symptoms include difficulty in breathing, fever and coughing and can lead to organ failure, pneumonia and death. The best way to combat it is to avoid close contact with people who might be sick or carrying it,” he said
The DG also assured that the federal government is doing everything possible to ensure that the coronavirus does not come into Nigeria’s borders and advised citizens to avoid countries already confirmed to have cases of coronavirus.
“The safety of Nigerians is a priority for the federal government and we are doing everything possible to ensure that harmful biological agents are properly contained and eliminated so that they do not cause harm to humans and the environment,” he added.