The Federal Government has said that the 44- year – old Italian, who first tested positive for the coronavirus disease in Nigeria , is clinically stable . It added that the medical team in charge would determine his release early next week .
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire , while giving an update on the virus in Abuja on Friday , also said that despite the spread , there would be no ban on airlines or foreigners , adding that the ministry would continue to monitor all incoming travelers and those marked for secondary screening .
The first of the virus in Nigeria was confirmed in Lagos on February 27 when the Italian, who arrived in Nigeria on February 24 onboard a Turkish Airline , having transited through Istanbul , Turkey, tested positive for the virus, known as COVID – 19.
The patient, who has since then been quarantined at the Mainland Hospital, Yaba , Lagos , had after spending his first night in a Lagos hotel visited Lafarge Africa Plc in Ewekoro, Ogun State, the following day where he developed fever and showed symptoms of the virus. He was then transferred to Lagos where he tested positive for the disease.
The second case of the virus , who was one of those who had contact with the Italian , was confirmed by the Health Minister on Monday .
As of the time of filing this report , the virus , which was first confirmed in Wuhan , China on December 31 , 2019 , has spread to 136 out of the 195 countries in the world .
The number of cases had risen to 142 , 897 , out of which 70, 920 had recovered from the disease while 5 , 375 deaths had been recorded .
But speaking on Friday, the minister said , “ Between January 7 and March 12 , 2020 , a total of 42 people who met our case definition have been screened for COVID – 19 in Edo , Lagos , Ogun , Yobe, Rivers and Kano states , and the Federal Capital Territory.
Forty tested negative and two were confirmed positive. These two are the index case and a contact with the index case . No death has been recorded .
“ The index case is clinically stable and much improved .
Steady progress till early next week will guide the medical team in discharging him .
The second case is testing negative for the virus now , meaning he has cleared the virus and will be allowed to go home . ”
The minister stressed that the second case no longer had the symptoms of the COVID 19 adding that he had not been sick while in isolation .
Ehanire also reiterated that despite the declaration by the World Health Organisation that coronavirus is now a pandemic , Nigeria would not ban any airline or any national from the critically affected countries from flying into Nigeria .
It said it would rather maintain high degree of screening at all ports of entry .
He added , “The WHO has declared COVID – 19 a pandemic but it is not a call for fear or panic . COVID – 19 cases in China have continued to decline which is a sign that the virus can be controlled.
“ The Ministry of Health continues to monitor all incoming travellers and select those that fit definition for secondary screening .
Following the declaration by the WHO and the increasing spread , we have begun review of our own case definition .
However , Nigeria has not placed a travel ban on any country passport or flight. ”
…as Lagos , Ogun release Italian ’ s 179 contacts in isolation
Meanwhile , the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi , has said all 179 people in isolation in Ogun and Lagos states who had contact with the Italian have been released .
Abayomi , at a briefing in Lagos on Friday, said the 179 persons who had contact with the Italian were traced and that since they had exceeded the mandatory 14 days isolation , they have been released as none of them developed any symptom of the disease .
He added , “ The Italian is perfectly well now .
We are only keeping him because he still has some secretion of the virus .
Test shows that anytime from now , he may be negative .
If he is negative , we will conduct another test within 48 hours after and if he is still negative , we will set him free .
“ We are close to discharging the index case , we want to be sure he poses no danger to the society anymore . ”
On the Nigerian who earlier tested positive for the virus , the commissioner said the patient had now tested negative twice and had been released .
He said , “ His tests initially showed that he was positive twice but now he has tested negative for the virus on two consecutive tests carried out .
The remaining contact in Ogun and Lagos states remain symptom- free and they have exceeded 14 days surveillance which means that we have been able to interrupt the transmission between the index case and others.
The index case and its threat to Nigeria have been eliminated.
“ Those isolated in Ogun State have been discharged .
In Lagos , we will not follow up the contacts again because none of them has developed symptoms .
We are discharging all. ”
Ogun releases 40 quarantined persons to families
Also , the Commissioner for Health in Ogun State, Dr Tomi Coker , said at a press conference in Abeokuta on Friday that the 40 quarantined persons who had contact with the Italian had been released to their families after they tested negative in series of tests conducted on them .
She noted that there was no longer any isolation centre in the state because none of the quarantined contacts showed any symptoms of the disease .
She added , “I wish to inform you that all 40 contacts of the index case under quarantine have tested negative to a series of tests for coronavirus including the second positive case which was a contact of the index case . For this reason , they have all been allowed today (Friday ) to reunite with their families.
“ We can safely state that COVID – 19 is currently contained in Ogun State. ”
She stated that the state was working with the health services to closely monitor and screen vehicles and individuals coming through the land border , while calling on individuals with travel history to some of the high – risk countries to embark on 14 days self – isolation to curb the spread of the virus.
Four visitors from US in isolation released
Also , the health minister noted that four children and their teacher who arrived in Nigeria from the United States had been placed in isolation .
He added , “ A group of four children and their teacher flew into Lagos from the United States but prior to their arrival , Nigeria Centre for Disease Control was informed by the United States Centre for Disease Control that the group had been in the same case of a confirmed case of COVID 19.
“ We placed them into isolation on arrival and tests were done which came back negative for all of them .
They will still be in self – isolation for 14 days .
After 14 days of follow up with no symptom, all contacts of the index case in Ogun and Lagos states will be allowed to go home and rejoin the society. ”
The minister said further that as part of the measures to prepare for the virus, all states , especially those with international airports, would be supported to set up isolation centres , adding that Nigeria had also requested the support of other countries in its response to the COVID – 19 .
He said , “ We have progressed in assessing treatment centres and have now ensured that every state, particularly those with international airports, identify a location that can be used to manage cases .
We are supporting these states to scale up capacity to meet existing needs. ”
FG activates point of entry policy for Yellow Fever
On efforts being made to contain yellow fever in Nigeria , the minister said those with no yellow card would be allowed into the country but would have to take yellow fever vaccine on arrival in Nigeria.
He said , “ Due to ongoing transmission of yellow fever in some parts of Nigeria, it is pertinent to activate Nigeria ’ s point of entry policy on prevention and control of cross – border transmission of yellow fever in line with WHO recommendations for all international travellers who are nine months old or older and who are arriving in areas with evidence of persistent or periodic transmission of yellow fever .
“ The Ministry of Health requested the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority to communicate this message to airlines for compliance .
Due to the COVID – 19 outbreak , the ministry reviewed the policy to allow passengers without yellow card or proof of vaccination to board their flights to Nigeria with the understanding that they will be given yellow fever vaccination on arrival at our point of entries .
“ The vaccination is free and the yellow card is at a nominal cost .
This is in the interest of the health of the country and also of the passengers .
The effective date of the revised policy implementation is March 11, 2020 . ”
The minister also noted that although the possibility of coronavirus entering Nigeria through land border was low , government was not ignoring monitoring arrivals at the land borders .
He called on private hospital owners to refer cases with coronavirus symptoms to designated treatment centres immediately, adding that many of the cases already diagnosed came from private hospital referrals.
‘ No coronavirus in Rivers ’
The Rivers State Government also said on Friday that contrary to a social media story alleging that coronavirus was now in the state , there was no confirmed case of the disease in the state.
The state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim , described the report in the social media as the handiwork of mischief makers , whose target was to cause unnecessary panic in the state .
Nsirim , in a statement on Friday, said , “ Contrary to a social media story today alleging that the COVID – 19 is now in the state, the Rivers State Government has said there is no confirmed case in the state.
Explaining the protocols to be observed before a case of coronavirus could be declared , the state Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike , said taking a suspected case to any of the teaching hospitals in the state remained the first step to be taken before the Rapid Response Team of the ministry would take it up .
Also , the Chief Medical Director , University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital , Prof Henry Ugboma , has also dispelled speculations that the state now has a suspected case of the virus .
The Chairman , Medical Advisory Committee and Head , Clinical Services and Training , UPTH , Prof Princewill Stanley , who represented the CMD , said , “ I want to allay the fear of the public that there is no single confirmed case of coronavirus within Rivers State.
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