COVID-19: FG commences contact tracing of confirmed case

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The Federal Government has commenced contact tracing of reported first case of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country to monitor health of people that travelled with the patient to prevent the spread.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire said this while answering questions from journalists on Friday in Abuja on measures put in place to prevent the spread.

Ehanire had earlier confirmed that an Italian citizen who works in Nigeria and returned from Milan, Italy, to Lagos, Nigeria on Tuesday had tested positive to the virus.

He assured Nigerians that the government is working to prevent the spread of the virus.

“I am assuring Nigerians that all measures have been taken to contain and control the spread of the virus, it happened in Lagos, the state Commissioner was the first we were in touch with.

“I know the capability of Lagos State, the state has a lot of experience on Ebola so they will be able to handle the case. Also, we have sent a team from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to support the state.

“The relief is that the patient is not showing very serious symptoms and other relief is that as far as statistics is concern, 97 per cent of the case that have COVID-19 do recover.

“The terrible thing about it is that it spreads easily and people can get it without knowing,’’ he said.

According to him, the reported case is not as a result of failure to screen at the airports but the nature of the virus which may not present symptoms at that period of screening.

He commended the Lagos State Government for handling the case as the patient was quickly referred to reference laboratory under controlled transportation and the driver was fully kitted.

The minister said the Federal Government had released N620 million to NCDC to contain the virus and N71 million to port health service.

“We are doing everything possible to prevent the spread because we did not have the scope of the virus as reported by scientists.

“We have been preparing hard and working with World Health Organisation (WHO) and the agency has warned that all countries should brace up on level of preparedness.

“The government will follow the WHO guideline of screening at the airport, isolation and questioning those with travel history to countries with outbreak,’’ he said.

The minister, however, emphasised that the Government of Nigeria, through the Federal Ministry of Health, had been strengthening measures to ensure that an outbreak in Nigeria was controlled and contained quickly.

Ehanire advised all Nigerians to take care of their health and maintain hand and respiratory hygiene to protect themselves and others, including their own families, following the precautions below:

“Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water, and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

“Maintain at least 1.5 metres (5 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

“Persons with persistent cough or sneezing should stay home or keep a social distance but not mix in crowd.

“Make sure you and people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene, meaning cover your mouth and nose with a handkerchief or tissue or into your sleeve at the bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.

“Stay home if you feel unwell with symptoms like fever, cough and difficulty in breathing,’’ he urged.

“Please call NCDC toll free number, which is available day and night for guidance: 0800 970 0000-0010,’’ he said. (NAN)

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