By Martins Ifijeh
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has stated that 11 persons have so far tested negative to Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Nigeria.
The Director General, NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, who confirmed this to journalists in Abuja Thursday, said the tests were conducted by the NCDC National Reference Laboratory and Virology Laboratory at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), and that Nigeria was free from the virus.
He said: “Four laboratories in Nigeria have the capacity to test for the coronavirus. These laboratories are within the NCDC laboratory network and are open 24/7. If a new case is confirmed, it will be reported accordingly.
“We are in close communication with the Lagos State Ministry of Health and other states, and will inform the public once there is a confirmed case in the country.”
Ihekweazu, who said the centre will continue to monitor the outbreak globally, urge Nigerians to disregard rumours over spread of the virus.
He said when a high-risk traveller with symptoms arrives in the country, the person would be taken from the airport to an isolation centre and samples would be collected immediately for testing.
“If confirmed, appropriate management will commence, but if negative, the person would still be monitored for 14 days and retested.
“When a high-risk traveller that is not symptomatic comes into the country, the person is advised to stay at home for 14 days and report immediately if he/she develops symptoms. We also ensure we collect contact details of the person while an official is attached to the person to monitor him/her daily for 14 days.
“If the person develops symptoms within 14 days of arrival in the country, samples would be collected for confirmation. If confirmed, the person goes into our isolation centre where he would be managed appropriately,” he said.
Ihekweazu described a high-risk traveller as someone who has had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case or was travelling from China, particularly Wuhan.
While calling on Nigerians not to panic, he said that the Chinese authorities have intensified measures to prevent the exportation of COVID-19 such as screening travellers leaving China.
“In Nigeria, the NCDC conducts daily epidemic intelligence gathering to monitor the spread of the outbreak,” he said
He said that the Government of Nigeria through NCDC is working very hard to be better prepared in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.
He disclosed that NCDC in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) reviewed strategies to work together in the 36 states of the federation and the FCT to ensure that Nigerians are well informed.
Furthermore, Ihekweazu said that NCDC had revised the national case definition in line with changes in the epidemiology of the outbreak.
“With the ongoing local transmission in countries outside China, the focus had been expanded to include travellers from other countries.”