NIGERIA’S EFFORTS AT PREVENTING COVID-19

By Gloria Essien

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Since the outbreak of Coronavirus on December 31st, 2019, the world is yet to contain its spread.

The virus, now code named, Covid 19, by the World Health Organisation, WHO, originated from a Wuhan Seafood Market in China, which was known upon discovery as novel Corona virus.

According to Medical experts, Corona viruses are a large family of viruses that cause not only the common cold but also more serious respiratory illnesses. The symptoms include, Fever, difficulty in breathing, severe cough, pneumonia, impaired liver and kidney functions and Kidney failure.

Covid -19 viruses are similar to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, SARS, which ravaged southern China in 2002 and spread to 30 countries and killed 813 people.

At present, Covid-19 has spread from China to other Asian countries, in Europe, Middle East, Americas, Australia and of recent in Africa.

Deaths have been recorded around the world with South Korea being the worst hit outside China. 40 countries have been affected with new cases being discovered daily.

The Emergency Committee of the WHO reconvened under the WHO Director-General on the 30th January, 2020, and declared the Covid-19 outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

The declaration put all countries of the world on Red Alert as they began to make moves to prevent the importation of the virus to their countries by setting up emergency preparedness to address the issue.

China is facing the challenge squarely and within six days, it was able to build a Specialist hospital in Wuhan where victims and suspected Covid -19 victims are quarantined and being treated. Currently, robots have been sent to hospitals in major Chinese cities to serve victims and quarantined people to avoid the spread of the virus to other people.

In Nigeria, laboratory diagnostics and screening centres at ports of entry have been intensified while increasing surveillance and improving isolation centres for managing potential patients.

Nigeria, as one of the 14 top priority countries identified by WHO, has confirmed the first case of Corona virus disease in Lagos State, Southwestern part of the country. The case involved an Italian citizen, who works in Nigeria and returned from Milan, Italy.

Similarly, another case was recorded involving two South Africans based in China.

Already, the authorities in Nigeria have been working to identify all the contacts of the patient since he entered Nigeria.

The Corona virus Preparedness Working group set up by the Centre for Disease Control, CDC, is strengthening Nigeria’s capacity to rapidly detect and respond to COVID-19. The CDC has advised citizens to curtail foreign travels and to avoid contacts with persons who show signs of symptoms associated with the virus. Nigerians who are returning from affected countries are urged to self-isolate themselves for about fourteen days and be sure of their health status before mingling with the general public.

Regular hand washing and wearing of Nose Masks are also advised for anyone who is coughing and sneezing to avoid possible infection of any flu.

Laudable as these measures are, more researches and enlightenment programmes are needed to update the populace on the impact of the virus and possible cure when this is available.

With the virus already confirmed in three African nations, Egypt, Algeria and Nigeria, the need for coordinated approach between the government’s inter-ministerial committee headed by the Minister of Health and the Corona Virus Preparedness Working Group is now a sine qua non, in order to save Nigeria and Africa from a human catastrophe posed by Covid 19.