Kenneth Udeh, Abuja
Worried by the ravaging spread of the deadly Coronavirus in China and 15 other countries, the Nigerian Senate on Thursday directed incoming travellers from China, Asia and other affected countries to isolate themselves by staying indoors and disassociate themselves from physical contact with the Nigerian public for at least two weeks.
The Senate further urged the Nigerians Intending to travel to Asia, especially China, to heed the Federal Government’s travel advisory by putting their travel arrangements on hold till further notice until the outbreak of Coronavirus is vanquished. In the same vein, the Senate advised the Nigerian public to adopt health precautionary measures by washing their hands with running water, it further urged those with reported cases or likely infection or symptoms that are approximately associated with the Coronavirus to visit the hospitals for an urgent health check.
The Senate made the resolutions in response to a motion moved by Senator Chukwuka Utazi (Enugu South) titled ‘Motion on Coronavirus Outbreak and Preventive Response in Nigeria’.
According to Utazi, the virus infects humans and was spread via air, coughing and sneezing, close personal contact, touching an object or surface contaminated with the virus. Utazi explained that the symptoms of the infection were characterised by running nose, sore throat, feeling unwell, cough and fever.
The Senate expressed worry that the deadly disease had killed over 170 persons and infected more than 630. The Senate pointed out that the number of infected people would increase rapidly as the disease outbreak occurred at the period when Chinese around the world travelled home for their annual Holiday and week-long Lunar New Year, and they would be returning back to their various countries of residence.
Utazi informed the Senate that the Federal Ministry of Health through the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had risen to the occasion and were closely monitoring the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by the new Coronavirus. He further disclosed that aviation regulatory agencies recently stepped up surveillance across operating international airports across the country in a bid to contain the spread of the endemic.
The Senate commended and lent support to the Federal Government’s travel advisory.
Supporting the Motion, Senator Barau Jubrin (Kano North) called on health officials in the country to employ preventive measures.
In his words: “People are dying in their numbers in China and disease spreads very fast across the globe. Other countries have taken effective measures to make sure that this disease doesn’t find its way into their countries. This motion is a wakeup call to our health officials to make sure they employ preventive measures to make sure that this disease does not come into our country. We should find a way to send an urgent message through this motion to the executive to make sure that the proper thing is done because once this country enters this country we are in trouble.”
In his contribution, Senator James Manager (Delta South) hailed the Federal Government’s precautionary measures, disclosing that he had almost embarked on a journey to China but changed his mind, saying “I don’t want to die”. He advised that preventive measures be taken by all Nigerians.
“I am surprised that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has not been able to qualify the virus as an international health emergency. I am happy that we are rising to the occasion here in this country, that means we are learning from history. This Coronavirus is like another Ebola disease, we were able to deal with it and learn from the experience. Our health ministry is doing well and I want them not to relent.
“In fact, myself, I was to travel to China a few days ago, but I said no I will not go to that part of the world. I don’t want to die. At every opportunity please wash your hands, if you have not been doing that you can never tell if the person is transmitting to you or you are transmitting to another person.
The Senate, in its resolution, commended the Federal Ministry of Health through the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for their efforts aimed at stemming the Coronavirus infection in Nigeria and urged them not to lower their guard until the scourge was eradicated internationally and locally. It also asked the Federal Government to allocate more funds to the NCDC to acquire the latest equipment for research into drugs and diagnosis of diseases.