Health Ministry, Presidency to Meet over Coronavirus Disease

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Minister of state for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire

Martins Ifijeh

The Federal Ministry of Health and the presidency will meet today over the Novel Coronavirus outbreak from Wuham city in China, which has now spread to at least 13 countries, including the United States, Australia, France and Japan.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who spoke to THISDAY last night on phone, said the meeting will look at updates on the heightened national health security measures that have been put in place, especially at international airports, as well as brainstorm on other measures necessary for the prevention of the virus into Nigeria.

 Ehanire, who was at the Aminu Kano International Airport yesterday to inspect the level of compliance from the Ports Health Services, said national health security measures have been heightened, especially at international airports, adding that surveillance has also been mounted in all borders to prevent the spread.

He said: “If you screen anybody properly at the borders, check their travel histories and routes, it will help us a lot in ensuring the virus doesn’t get in.

“So far, we do not have plans to stop Nigerians from traveling to China or coming from China because there are international health regulations that must be followed on public health concerns. No country has done that.

 “We have issued advisory to Nigerians, including states, public health facilities, as well as private facilities. This advisory is intended to be trickled down up to primary health facilities also, because they are actually closer to the people,” Ehanire said.

While stating that the federal government was 100 per cent alert, he called on Nigerians to carry out normal hygiene protocols, such as hand washing and closing their mouth with handkerchief while coughing or sneezing. He said those with fibril symptoms should not wait for couple of days before seeking medical attention.

He added: “Corona is a so-called “novel” virus, meaning that the virus and its effect on humans are not well known to science. The way it has moved around raises global concern, but measures are being put in place to contain the spread, especially with travel restrictions voluntarily ordered by Chinese authorities in putative epicenters of the outbreak. Nigeria is on full alert with the health ministry leading Port Health Services and the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC)”.