By YVONNE ISHOLA
THE battle rages on against the Coronavirus. Fear of its rapid spread especially in countries with fragile health system like Nigeria and other African countries; is palpable and continue to dominate discourse in public domains. If a technology giant like China is overwhelmed by the COVID 19 disease, and the death toll is still on the rise, then Nigeria and countries in sub-Saharan African should keep it at bay in every way they can.
Not until recently, there were only two laboratories in the whole of Africa that had the reagents needed to test samples for Convid-19. These laboratories are located at Senegal and South Africa. They were working as referral laboratories for countries around Africa.
Thankfully, more African countries have equipped themselves with the basic technology and necessities for conducting Corona-virus test. These include Nigeria, Ghana, Madagascar, Sierra Leone. And the list has increased.
One dares to say that the deadly nature of this disease and its very infectious feature has put everyone on his or her toes. Because no one, no country exists as an Island, injury to one is injury to all. In this case, the country that was first infected and affected is China, one of the world’s fastest growing economies which does business or associated with virtually every continent in the world directly or indirectly. If you don’t go to them (tourist, business, education, technology, partnership etc, they will come to you ((for business).
Or like the Nigerian scenario, where COVID. 19 was imported into the country by an Italian who must have contacted it from the host country-China. The Italian would have left a deadly souvenir for Nigerians, if the authorities were only looking out for Chinese.
Regardless of the efforts of government around the world, the dead toll and rapid infectious rate of the COVID-19 virus in countries like China, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Iran is on the rise. It is no wonder that the federal government of Nigeria has placed the above countries on its watch list. This is meant to curb the spread of the virus in the country.
The Federal Ministry of Health has also moved into action in its effort to trace the 156 passengers that boarded the Turkish airline flight with the Italian that tested positive to coronavirus on arrival in Nigeria. Although, there is every possibility that some of the passengers had only stopped over in Nigeria for a few days and may have gone back to their countries.
These precautions need to be taken considering the deadly nature of the disease and how highly contagious it is. It is also treatable if Corona virus is arrested at the early stage revealed Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu.
If not for anything, for their loved ones, the Italian’s co-passengers should come out and be tested and quarantined to certify that they have a clean slate. Or else the lives of their loved ones will be at risk before the larger society.
Corona virus has reared itself in almost all the continents except Antarctica. This has prompted many governments to put in place stricter measures against travelling or gathering in crowded places.
Surprisingly, the Nigerian case is just the third to be confirmed in Africa inspite of its close ties to China with whom it does business. That is aside the fact that a lot of our youth are schooling there and travel to and fro.
It has been reported that the Italian man had flown-in in a Turkish Airline, stayed in a hotel near the airport on the evening of 24 February, then took off to his final destination at Ogun State where he works. He was treated on the 26th February at his company’s medical facility before health practitioners there called government’s bio security officers. He was then transferred on the 27th February to a containment facility in Yaba, Lagos. He is reported to be stable.
After the scare of Ebola in 2014, Nigeria has improved immensely in its ability to manage the outbreak of a major pandemic. Every bad thing has a good side, it is often said.
“We have learnt some eternal lessons from the Ebola scare that somewhat prepared us for this Coronavirus,” , said nurse Lydia Duju.
All we had to do was to visit our notes and sharpen our senses with a few additions. Typical of Nigerians, we had kept aside health tips we imbibed during the Ebola scare. We were reminded to pick up the old habit of hand washing, using of hand sanitizer, etc. We had to be reminded on the precaution to take when caring for the sick, etc.
Nigerians’ fears have been allayed concerning all those who came in contact with the Italian from the airport to the time it was discovered he tested positive of Coronavirus. But did the authorities take note of every little detail? We were made to understand that the taxi driver that transported him from one of the destinations came to the authorities. What we don’t know is if the authorities were thorough in isolating the gate man, cleaners, and other workers and even other guests very close to his room.
If Coronavirus manifests itself like cold or flu, then anyone could have been in danger who came to a close range to the Italian. Note that common catarrh is very contagious without involving sneezing, cough and running nose. Imagine a virus that manifests all or most of these. On most occasions, the hand which is used to cover the mouth when one sneezes or coughs carries the most germs. And the same hand is used to open doors, shake hands, touch public places. I leave the rest to your imagination.
Truth be told, testing regimes and isolation facilities have been reinforced. Government has also improved in its enlightenment campaign. As it stands today, there is hardly a Nigerian that does not know a thing or two about coronavirus, even though more needs to be done to curb the spread of the disease.
One cannot deny the fact that the Nigerian authorities have done well in trying to locate the Italian man’s co-passengers. It is just that all their efforts is leading them to a dead end. Some of the passengers numbers are not going; others didn’t leave any phone number. The only recourse is to appeal to their conscience wherever they may be through any available media with wide coverage like CNN.
Around the globe, panic is taking over because of the corona-virus.China’s National Health Commission reported 327 new confirmed cases and 44 new deaths as of February 27, 2020. This brings the number of infection of confirmed cases to 100,000 and death toll to 3300 at the time of filing this report. South Korea reported 571 cases on Friday as reported Yonhap News Agency. Bringing the country’s total number to 2,337. This places it second after China as countries worse hit by convid-19 virus. In Iran, 34 people have died.
Six people have died in the United States due to convid-19 infection. Researchers warn that the disease must have been circulating for weeks in the USA before manifesting. Iran’s death toll hit 66, the highest outside China.
In France, officials have confirmed 20 new cases in 24 hours after the warning of President Macron that the country was on the brink of an epidemic. Italy’s death toll rose to 17.
Germany has quarantined about 1000 people and Lithuania and New Zealand have joined the bandwagon of countries with confirmed cases of covid -19 virus.
Donald Trump was disappointed about the virus but was optimistic that US agencies were doing a ‘fine job’ and that cases of covid-19 were going down in US and China. Unfortunately, the virus has affected the stock market with heavy losses recorded in Asian markets, Austria, China, Japan, South Korea.
Eqypt was the first African country to record covid-19 case on February 14, 2020. Algeria followed closely on February 17. The case of these two countries prompted the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti to sound a warning that the “window of opportunity the continent has had to prepare for coronavirus disease is closing”.
WHO’s Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warns that the situation could “get out of control if affected countries did not move decisively to contain the situation. A timely warning judging from the spread of disease in almost 70 countries without a very short time.
There is no gainsaying that all hands should be on deck to contain the disease. Every protective measure that can help should be put into action to safe guard our future generation. Everyone has a part to play. Do your part and government will do its own part.
In Nigeria, every state has put in place modalities to curb the spread of the disease since the first case was reported in Lagos (February 24,). In Plateau State, for instance, protective measures have been put in place to safe guard the lives of the citizenry from Convid-19 infection. In this regard, there are medical teams at the point of entry (airport) to report any suspected case of covid-19. It was under this watch that the entry of 3 Chinese nationals, who came through from Abuja, was reported. These men were headed to Wase where they work at a mining site. They were intercepted and quarantined. They have just been certified clean of the convid-19. This information was revealed by the helms man of the state, Governor Lalong during the wake keep of Late Senator Longjan on Sunday March 1, 2020 at St. Louis Catholic Church, Jos.
In addition, the residents of Jos were informed early in the week of the state’s readiness to handle any eventualities as it has prepared a ward at Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) and Plateau Specialists Hospital Jos with the needed personnel. This was disclosed by the Commissioner of Health.
Katsina State has swung into action ever since the outbreak of covid-19 in Nigeria. The government has inaugurated an emergency operation centre to tackle the outbreak of the disease if ever.
Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State is not leaving any stone untouched in the battle against the deadly covid 19. To this end, he has directed medical experts to start screening passengers coming into the state from border towns to curb the spread of the virus to the state.
Not leaving anything to chance, the DG, NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu said recently that apart from placing China, South Korea, Italy, Japan and Iran on watch list, “Anyone travelling from these nations who falls ill within 14 days (incubation period of the virus) is advised to reach us to enable us take their samples and then do tests to check whether or not they are positive to the virus”.
Boosting Nigerians confidence Ihekweazu said. “We have been preparing for this for the past six weeks. So far we have done 15 tests and only one came up positive…. We are testing people that meet our case definition”, he said as reported by This Day, publication of March 3, 2020 written by Ezigbo, Ifijeh, Sardauna and Ogunye.
Speaking to newsmen recently, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire disclosed that there is a relationship between the severity of Covid-19 and one’s immune system. The stronger the immunity, the milder the symptoms implied Ehanire.
It was said that the fear of Ebola is the beginning of wisdom. In this case, the fear of coronavirus is knowledge that liberates and saves one. As to be expected, lack of knowledge about the sickness and information about its status in Nigeria had caused panic especially as media was and still a wash with the devastation the Covid-19 is causing and the death it is leaving in its wake.
Presently, some people have stopped shaking hands. There is a video making the rounds on social media where people were using their legs to shake instead of their hand because of Coronavirus scare. Trust Nigerians to find humour in every serious situation. However, some schools have taken it to another level. They have instructed their students to wear mask to school. This was confirmed by the same This Day publication quoted above where the Minister of Healt,h Ehanire advised against the idea of schools forcing students to wear face mask to school. In his opinion, the measure may be necessary for those students who reported to school sick. But even so, in a situation where the school authority sells the face mask to such students, it should be subsidized.
Around the world, countries have come up with measures to checkmate the spread of the Covid-19. Iraq has since banned the entry of foreign nationals and has closed its borders to Iran, Bahrain and Kuwait, its neighbors. It has also banned travel to a total of 9 affected countries.
India has temporarily suspended the e-visa issue to China and cancelled the ones already issued to China, Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan who are yet to enter the country.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Covid-19 outbreak as a global public health emergency. The US has also added its voice to that of WHO on the February 1, and many other countries have followed suit as the number of the victims of the virus continue to rise. WHO has raised the risk assessment for the outbreak to very high on February 28.
Due to the deadliness of the Covid-19, airports around the globe are deploying screening measures to quarantine passengers who manifest any symptoms similar to that of Covid-19. So far, the efforts of governments are yielding results. We can relate it to the Nigerian situation. No stone is left unturned in trying to stop the spread of the Coronavirus.
No sane government will like to play with its human capital especially as the disease is no respecter of status. In Iran, it was a big wig that was one of its first victims-its vice president. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has no cure. Researchers are still battling to come up with a cure.
According to an American medical doctor, Dr. Bolden, Covid-19 can start with cough, sneezing, running nose and low grade fever. Bolden said “The main difference between Coronavirus and flu is that at the beginning, the muscles ache and joints ache with the flu, while in the Coronavirus, there are lower respiratory symptoms: coughing and some running nose and possible low grade fever, but no muscle ache or joint aches usually”.
To keep Coronavirus at bay, Dr. Bolden advises that for both the flu and Coronavirus, hand washing with soup and water or alcoholic sanitizer for 20 seconds is a habit to develop to prevent transmission from person to person. He also advises people to avoid close contact with people who are sick. And avoid touching your eyes nose and mouth. He said to stay home when you are sick. In addition, clean and disinfect frequently touched objects in the house such as door knobs or the bathrooms especially if you have sick persons in the house.
Dr. Bolden is also of the opinion that people should be proactive in public. For example, if one sees one coughing and sneezing around one, one should have the sense to quietly move away. Or. when on queue and someone before you is coughing and sneezing, Bolden suggests you turn your back on the person because you done want to be infected. This information was taken from www.morrisnews.com
The Nigerian authorities have done their part. It is left for me and you to do our part for ourselves and others too.