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'Nigeria will deal with this': High alert after coronavirus case


Health authorities in Nigeria are ramping up efforts to notice and incorporate the new coronavirus after Africa's most populous usa verified its first case, calling on citizens to avoid panicking or spreading unverified statistics about the disease.

An Italian citizen working in Nigeria tested tremendous for the virus on Thursday after falling sick following his arrival in the commercial hub of Lagos from Milan in northern Italy, an area that has emerged as Europe's coronavirus hotspot.

The man, who has considering been remoted at a clinic in Yaba, is "clinically stable" and has now not developed serious symptoms, in accordance to fitness officials.

"We have already commenced working to perceive all the contacts of the patient given that he entered Nigeria," Osagie Ehanire, Nigeria's health minister, told newshounds in the capital, Abuja. "We have persevered to red meat our personal security. The stage of preparedness continues to improve of Nigeria each and every day."

Public health authorities who spoke to Al Jazeera expressed self assurance in the West African country's ability to contain the spread of the virus. They pointed to key classes from its successful response to an Ebola outbreak more than 5 years ago, as nicely as a series of measures already put in area earlier than the arrival of the coronavirus.

Along with heightening screening at factors of entry, in particular at airports, authorities have set up testing capacity in four laboratories and multiplied surveillance to observe up with guests from countries affected by way of the infectious ailment - formally acknowledged as COVID-19 - inside 14 days of arriving in Nigeria.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has additionally supported the activation of emergency operation centres to serve as coordination platforms, whilst its Coronavirus Preparedness Group meets daily to review the state of affairs and manage the response efforts.

The business enterprise has in the meantime issued a public health advisory to inform Nigerians about signs and preventive measures, and has provided a toll-free quantity for guidance.

May Ubeku, a public health practitioner and epidemiologist, said Nigerian fitness authorities had been "fully prepared" to incorporate the spread of the coronavirus, citing the series of measures introduced when you consider that January.

First sub-Saharan African case
Nigeria is sub-Saharan Africa's first us of a to register a case of the virus, which has killed some 2,900 humans and infected greater than 86,000 worldwide, the sizeable majority in China where it originated late final year.

Medical professionals had lengthy predicted the arrival of the lethal virus in sub-Saharan Africa, pointing to the deep alternate and travel ties between China and a variety of countries on the continent.

In mid-February, fitness ministers of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) converged in Mali's capital, Bamako, to improve a regional preparedness format and boost cross-border collaboration to promote rapid analysis and containment.

Parts of West Africa already share a painful experience of trying to handle the principal Ebola outbreak that ravaged the place between 2013 and 2016 and killed more than 11,000 people.

In Nigeria, the first case of Ebola was once detected in July 2014 following the arrival of an contaminated Liberian man at the Lagos worldwide airport. The man, who died in hospital, set off a chain of transmission that killed seven people out of a whole of 19 infections. But months later, the united states of america used to be declared Ebola-free, with the World Health Organization (WHO) hailing a "spectacular success story" and commending authorities for their "effective coordination of the response".

'Nigeria will deal with it'
Ifeanyi Nsofor, who graduated from Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity programme at George Washington University in 2019, mentioned Nigeria's ride in stamping out Ebola, as properly as polio, as promising signs and symptoms in the battle to comprise the unfold of the new coronavirus.

In August remaining year, Nigeria went three years except a case of wild poliovirus and is due to obtain a wild polio-free repute in June 2020 - a enormous shift from 2012 when it accounted for greater than 1/2 of all polio instances worldwide.

The united states of america adopted more than a few measures to attain this milestone, relatively organising emergency operations centres to reply to polio outbreaks and improving collaboration amongst fitness organizations and international partners. It additionally carried out a large-scale polio vaccination marketing campaign that worried volunteers, neighborhood agencies and spiritual and common institutions amid efforts to elevate awareness.

"The structures are still in place," Nsofor said, including that Nigeria can count number on the "massive" community of health employees who were deployed to tackle polio and Ebola.

"Nigeria will deal with this [coronavirus]."

Still, Nsofor, CEO of EpiAFRIC, an Abuja-based public health consultancy, expressed subject that plenty of the coronavirus containment effort looks to be centred on airports in massive cities.

"Our weakest link is our land borders, [which] are porous," he explained, urging fitness authorities to intensify surveillance.

Social media warning
The affirmation of the first case of COVID-19 comes at a time when Nigeria is nevertheless fighting an outbreak of Lassa fever, which has triggered 118 deaths given that the establishing of the year.

Lassa fever is endemic in Nigeria and some parts of West Africa and is predominantly transmitted by food or family gadgets contaminated by rodent urine or faeces.

Ukam Edadi, programme coordinator of Lagos-based Citizens Health Initiative Nigeria, a group campaigning for citizens' right to accessible and exceptional healthcare, known as for non-stop training of the health team of workers involved in tackling epidemics alongside an "aggressive and intensive health schooling on respiratory hygiene in the media, schools, hospitals, church buildings and mosques" to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the arrival of coronavirus in Lagos, an overcrowded megacity of some 20 million people, has sparked fears among residents amid reports of people scrambling to purchase hygiene products. On Saturday, two locals informed Al Jazeera that they visited pharmacies and shops however did not discover any protective masks and hand sanitisers to buy.

"People are scared, people are panicking but the most essential issue that human beings will do is to get gorgeous and credible information" from credible organisations and authorities such as the NCDC, the health ministry and the WHO, defined Nsofor.

Health officials and public health specialists have also expressed worries that online platforms could set off the upward push of myths and misinformation about the disease.

"Citizens must now not abuse social media and indulge in spreading misinformation that reasons fear and panic," Nigeria's fitness ministry stated in a assertion earlier this week.

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