All new suspected cased of coronavirus officially named COVID-19 by the World Health Organisation(WHO) in the country have tested negative, the federal government has declared.
It also allayed fears of confirmed cases of the condition.
Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, told reporters in Abuja that two cases, which met the case definition for the virus were tested and found negative, while two other cases are currently undergoing series of tests on Friday.
According to him: “At least we have had 30 investigations of people that have called us for one reason or the other. Out of that, two of them have met the case definition, that is, the person will have to have returned in the last 14 days.
“The two cases were tested and were found negative. Last night, we had another two, and tests are going on at the moment. As soon as they are completed, it will be announced. If a person returns to the country, say within 20 or 30 days, there is no point wasting reagents to test such a person.
“For other diseases, we usually advise people to go to the hospitals to get tested, but for suspected cases of coronavirus, patients are advised to simply put a call through to us, we will come to the patient because going to the hospital can amplify the disease if it is found to be positive.
“Be rest assured that if there is a positive case, we will be the first to announce it. So if you see something on social media saying a number of people have died of the virus in Nigeria, it is simply a rumor. It is not possible that it will happen because there are only three labs in Nigeria that run these tests.
“Once there is a positive, I will be informed and will inform the Honourable Minister who will announce it. There is no other way this information can get out.
“On behalf of the Africa Centre for Disease Control, Nigeria has been asked to lead on the training on infection prevention and control for the continent. The training will happen in Abuja starting on the 20th of the month, to standardize our approach to infection prevention and control”.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire also stated Nigeria now has the capacity to test for the COVID-19 in three major states Abuja, Lagos, and Irrua in Benin.
According to him: “Nigeria’s level of preparedness is very high despite the fact that there are reports that the Covid-19 has a fatality rate of about 2 percent, which is not too high but spreads very rapidly.
“According to latest news, the virus has affected over 60,000 people with about 1,400 fatalities globally. However, no case has been confirmed in Nigeria and Africa.
“The frontline for our defense against viruses are the port health services in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt, and Enugu, with Lagos having the highest traffic volume. Our national risk assessment is that the route for the importation is by air through the international borders. It is less likely by sea and over land because of the distance between Nigeria and China.
“Also, the fact that there is no direct airline connection gives us hope that if there are any cases that are possibly in transit, they would probably have been detected at the transit points of changing planes before they get here.
“We are also relieved that the Chinese government now conducts exit screening, so that anybody who looks unwell will not be allowed to board the plane.
“I have met twice with the Chines Ambassador and he has told us that there are about 60 Nigerians in Wuhan, China, and no Nigerian is sick or has anything that is near this virus infection. The Chinese government is providing them with food and supplies like its own citizens.
“The protocol is that anyone coming into the country is screened with thermal camera and can be captured immediately. We are going to also supply the port health services with rapid diagnostic tools for malaria so that they can try to rule out malaria on the spot.
“Immigration and customs who see passengers are also working with us to help identify anyone who looks sick and then refer them to port health.
“People who have returned from China are advised to self-isolate for their good and loved ones. They are also given a number to call if they notice any change in their health. In case they don’t call, we also have their numbers in their form to check up on them.
“The second line of defense is the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to look at suspected cases and do a test if need be for Coronavirus. We have the capacity now to test for coronavirus in three places namely, Abuja, Lagos based at LUTH, and Irrua”.
He further added: “We have enough reagents, and the Chinese Ambassador told us that they are supplying 2,000 reagents which are used for the machines that identifies the virus. They supplied 2,000 doses to Africa Centre for Disease Control, to be delivered to any African country that has need for it. They have also given us their treatment protocols. Also our doctors are being trained with simulations in case there is an outbreak in the country.
“The West African Ministers of Health are meeting today in Mali, and the Minister of State, Dr. Mamora, is there discussing what West Africa can do to help each other in terms of preparedness. Since there is the ECOWAS free movement, it is therefore, in our interest to know what is happening in our neighboring countries and the West African sub regions”.