The state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said at a press conference that the Chinese government, through her embassy in Nigeria was working with Lagos State Government to prevent the entry of coronavirus into the state.
He said, “We are very happy with the cooperation we are receiving from the Chinese government. We’ve had a very serious and high-level discussion with the Chinese government through their embassy in Lagos. Our primary concern has been the return of their citizens to Lagos in a few days and we are happy to inform you that the Embassy of China is also concerned about this, and they have sent out information through notifications to their citizens and companies located in Lagos that their citizens should try and remain in China until there is clarity about how this infection is going.
“However, if some of them choose to return, and we cannot restrict people, if they do return to Lagos, the instruction from the Chinese Embassy is that they should be quarantined for a period of 10 to 14 days in their houses, hostels and accommodations.”
The commissioner added that officials of the Ministry of Health would meet with associations and businessmen in Lagos, particularly those who make use of the China-Nigeria trade routes to advise them on their travels to Asian countries, particularly China.
WHO declares emergency
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation on Thursday declared as international emergency on coronavirus.
The WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom, said via the twitter handle of the WHO, “We don’t know what sort of damage this #2019CoV virus could do if it were to spread in a country with a weaker health system. We must act now to help countries prepare for that possibility.
“For all these reasons, I am declaring a public health emergency of international concern over the global outbreak of #2019nCov.”
WHO noted that a coronavirus is a family of viruses that include the common cold, severe acute respiratory syndrome and Middle East respiratory syndrome.
The Cable News Network had on Tuesday reported that a 34-year-old female student became the first person to be tested for the virus in Africa. The traveller, whose identity has been withheld, disembarked a flight from China, at Felix-Houphouet-Boigny International Airport, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on Saturday.
Also, the New York Times on its website, 170 people have died of coronavirus since its outbreak with more than 7,834 cases confirmed.
Isolate yourselves, Senate tells returnees
The Senate on Thursday asked Chinese citizens in Nigeria, who travelled to China to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year, to isolate themselves on return to the country.
The Upper Chamber also extended the call for self-isolation to travellers from other countries affected by the outbreak of the deadly disease.
The directives were part of resolutions made during the consideration of a motion titled, ‘Coronavirus outbreak and preventive response towards stemming its spread in Nigeria.’
Senator Chukwuka Utazi, who sponsored the motion, said, “Health officials fear the number of infected people will rise rapidly as hundreds of millions of Chinese people travel within China and abroad for the week-long Lunar New Year.”
Senator Jibrin Barau, in his contribution, described the motion as a wake-up call for health officials across the country to deploy early preventive measures.
He said, “This motion is a wake-up call to our health officials to deploy preventive measures.
“We should find a way to send a message through this motion to make sure the proper thing is done to safeguard the health of citizens and the nation.”
Senator James Manager, in his contribution, raised the alarm that Nigeria and other countries were at risk of experiencing an outbreak given what he described as the uncontrolled influx of Chinese nationals from one country to another.
The Senate, in its resolutions, urged Nigerians with likely infection or with symptoms associated with coronavirus to visit hospitals for urgent health check.
Nigerian health workers express worry
The President of National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, AbdlRauf Adeniji, on Thursday, expressed the fear of members of the association over their safety in the event of the coronavirus outbreak in Nigeria.
Adeniji’s fear was expressed just as the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said Nigeria was ready to protect the nation against the virus.
The minister and Adeniji spoke separately at a programme organised by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria in conjunction with the Ministry of Health in Abuja to launch the Nursing Now campaign.
Ehanire said, “Nigeria is ready (for coronavirus). Among the countries of the world where we had Ebola, Nigeria was one of the countries that handled it well. We have competent and astute manpower; yes our health system may be fragile but when we come together as Nigerians, we are able overcome any challenge.”
But the NANNM boss said the lack of infrastructure, including basic safety kits like masks and gloves.
He said, “We are bracing for coronavirus, which is a stubborn organism likened to hemorrhagic fever. As nurses and midwives, we are ready but our major challenge is the lack of infrastructure.
“There is no equipment. Go to most of the teaching hospitals and disease control and epidemiological units, what you will see is that there are no adequate equipment. To get mask and gloves, what nurses do is to come with their own because you may not find them in the stores and you need to attend to an infectious person. This is a great danger.”
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), represented by Ehanire at the event, said, “According to WHO, the campaign will focus on five core areas to ensure nurses and midwives have a more prominent voice in policymaking, encourage greater investment in the nursing workforce, recruiting more nurses into leadership positions, conducting research that helps to determine where nurses can have the greatest impact and sharing of basic nursing practices.”
Suspend China trips, union tells traders
Meanwhile, the South East Amalgamated Markets Traders Association has advised Nigerian traders to shelve all business trips to China and other Asia countries.
The umbrella body of all traders in the South-East made the appeal in a statement it issued on Thursday in Enugu. It was signed by its President General, Chief Gozie Akudolu, and Secretary General, Mr Alex Okwudili.
The statement read, “SEAMATA wishes to inform all our members in particular and all the traders across the federation in general, to be on red alert over the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus epidemic currently in China and other Asian and Far East countries, which incidentally, remain the business destinations of our members in their numbers.
“Traders and Nigerians in general should maintain a very high standard of personal hygiene and always have hand sanitisers handy to keep the risk of infection at a distance,” it said.
“This is the reason we should try to avoid trips to nations battling with the virus presently for now, until the situation is under control.”
By: Sunday Aborisade, Dayo Ojerinde and Raphael Ede