The Lagos State Government has alerted the public on a new virus, the novel Coronavirus (nCoV) which is currently raging in China and has been reported in some countries, including the United States of America, which has caused no fewer than nine deaths.
In a statement issued by the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, the government stated Coronaviruses (CoV) are 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).
Abayomi explained that the novel Coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has 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 Organization (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 January.
“As of 22nd January 2020, a total of 471 cases have been confirmed in South East Asia and USA with 9 deaths. There is evidence now that the infection is able to spread from person to person,” the Commissioner said.
He disclosed that the common signs and symptoms of the infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing adding that in more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
While noting that no cases of the virus have been identified in Lagos, Nigeria or anywhere in Africa, the Commissioner stated that the Lagos State is ramping up its level of preparedness considering the large commercial trading traffic between Nigeria and China and Thailand.
He said: “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 travelers.”
Abayomi urged citizens 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 and practice good biosecurity precautions with domestic and wild animals as measures against the transmission of any kind contagious infection, nCoV inclusive.
The Commissioner advised citizens travelling from South East Asia or any country where the infection has been reported or who have had contact with travelers from that region and experiencing above outlined 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 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 Mr. Governor,” he said.