The Nigeria Medical Association has called on the Federal Government to treat the deadly coronavirus like the Ebola virus to stop its transmission to Nigeria from China and other countries where it has reached.
The call came on the backdrop of the fact that a sizeable number of Nigerians involved in business transactions between Nigeria and China, as well as other Asian countries, fear that a traveller infected with the virus could transmit it to Nigeria from any of the affected countries in Asia.
The earliest cases of Coronavirus were reported a few weeks ago in Wuhan, China and it was believed that they were transmitted from animals to humans. But now it has been established that transmission from human to human is possible.
Although the British Broadcasting Corporation reported less than 100 cases of the disease, the virus has spread to other Asian countries, with several countries now setting up quarantine centres at their ports of entry for travellers with suspected symptoms.
On January 13, 2020, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control said the Federal Ministry of Health Port Health Services was on the alert at the nation’s entry points because of the outbreak of the virus. It stressed that the World Health Organisation had notified Nigeria of the risk of its spread to countries outside the Asian region.
On January 15, 2020, The PUNCH reported that NCDC Laboratory Network Advisor, Celestina Obiekea, said the country had placed an order for the reagent of the virus in order to develop the capacity to test samples. She added that the nation’s laboratory had the capacity to deal with the new coronavirus if it found its way to Nigeria.
The President of the NMA, Dr Francis Faduyile, in an exclusive interview with our correspondent, said, “Coronavirus is one of the highly contagious viral illnesses we have seen. We had a form of the virus called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (in 2002) and now that the world has become a global village, it is now easy to transmit the virus.
“Someone can be in China in the morning and move to Canada or the US in the afternoon. Since we usually have human to human contact, anyone suspected to be having symptoms of fever should be quickly quarantined and treated appropriately.
“It should be treated like Ebola because it is also highly infectious. They are zoonotic diseases, which affect animals and can be transmitted to human beings. Lassa fever is also in that category.
“We have seen in recent time the case of Ebola virus in Africa, with all migrants subjected to test at the various ports of entry. Anyone with high temperature should be subjected to test to know the cause of the body temperature. “During the time of SARS, a lot of precautionary measures were put in place, which included careful handshaking, close monitoring of patients with respiratory tract infections and control of droplets.
“All countries, including Nigeria, at their ports of entry must have a high index of suspicion to be able to halt the transmission of the virus in their respective countries. These are the things we should put in place to stop the transmission of the virus.”
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