By Dipo Olowookere
Residents of Lagos State have been urged to adopt and practice a high standard of personal and environmental hygiene including regular hand washing, covering of mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing while taking biosecurity precautions with domestic and wild animals as measures against the transmission of any kind of contagious infection, including a new virus, the novel Coronavirus (nCoV), which is currently raging in China.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Commissioner for Health in Lagos State, Mr Akin Abayomi, said government was working with federal agencies to ramp up its level of preparedness considering the large commercial trading traffic between Nigeria, China and Thailand.
He advised citizens travelling from South East Asia or any country where the infection has been reported or who have had contact with travellers from that region and experiencing above stated symptoms associated with the disease to go to the nearest health facility for immediate assessment and treatment or call 08023169485, 08033565529 or 08052817243 for assistance.
“The Lagos State Biosecurity team in collaboration with Lagos University Teaching Hospital is currently working on building urgent capacity to identify the virus in our Biosecurity facility and isolation wards located at the Mainland Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba in the event of any suspected case arriving in Lagos State.
“We are in touch with Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) in Abuja to align our strategies. Importantly we are also collaborating with the Federal Ports Authority at air, land and sea border posts to elevate screening and surveillance of incoming travellers”, he said.
Mr Abayomi described coronaviruses as a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
He explained that the novel Coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that had not been previously identified in humans, adding that Coronaviruses are primarily infections of animals that can be transmitted to humans.
“On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO), China Country Office was informed of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. A novel Coronavirus was identified as the causative virus by Chinese authorities on the 7th of January,” Mr Abayomi said.
“As of 22nd January 2020, a total of 471 cases have been confirmed in South East Asia and USA with nine deaths. There is evidence now that the infection is able to spread from person to person”, the Commissioner added.
He disclosed that the common signs and symptoms of the infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing, explaining that in more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
He said though no case of the virus has been identified in Lagos, Nigeria or anywhere in Africa, no fewer than nine deaths have been recorded in China and “some foreign countries, including the United States of America.”
The Commissioner for Health said, “The Lagos State Government is committed to the health and safety of her citizens and so, there is no cause for panic or alarm. This alert is just to assure you that we are preparing for any eventuality as directed by the Governor.”
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