Martins Ifijeh with agency reports
For rapidly spreading across the world, the World Health Organisation (WHO) thursday declared coronavirus, otherwise known as Covid-19, a pandemic, acknowledging that the virus might likely spread to all countries on the globe.
WHO Director-General, Mr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said in Geneva that the situation would worsen.
And in Nigeria, where the index case occurred last month, the Lagos State Government has quarantined six more persons in its Infectious Disease Centre in Yaba.
It has also found the two missing Nigerians suspected of having close contact with the Italian index case during his flight from Istanbul to Lagos on February 27.
Ghebreyesus said WHO was expecting a spike in the number of cases, deaths and the number of affected countries.
As of yesterday, 114 countries have reported that 4,291 had died, with 118,000 contracting Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, known as SARS-CoV2.
In the United States, over 1,000 cases have been diagnosed and 29 people have died.
The virus causes mild respiratory infections in about 80 per cent of those infected, though about half will have pneumonia. Another 15 per cent develop severe illness and five per cent need critical care.
He stated: “Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this coronavirus.
“It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do.
“This is not just a public health crisis; it is a crisis that will touch every sector; so every sector and every individual must be involved in the fight.”
While China appears on the verge of stopping its outbreak — it reported only 24 cases on Tuesday— outbreaks are occurring and growing in some locations around the world, including Italy, Iran and the US.
South Korea, which has reported nearly 8,000 cases, also appears poised to bring its outbreak under control with aggressive measures and widespread testing.
But other countries have struggled to follow the leads of China and South Korea, a reality that has frustrated WHO officials who have exhorted the world to do everything possible to end transmission of the virus.
“The bottom line is: We’re not at the mercy of the virus,” Tedros had said on Monday.
“The great advantage is that the decisions we all make as governments, businesses, communities, families and individuals can influence the trajectory of this epidemic.”
“The rule of the game is: Never give up,” he added.
The WHO has been criticised for not declaring the outbreak a pandemic sooner.
The Head of the agency’s Health Emergencies Programme, Mr. Mike Ryan, admitted in a press conference on Monday that the agency fears that countries may interpret a pandemic declaration as a sign that efforts to contain the virus have failed.
“For me, I’m not worried about the word. I’m more concerned about what the world’s reaction will be to that word. Will we use it as a call to action? Will we use it to fight? Or will we use it to give up?” Ryan asked.
Lagos Quarantines Six More Persons, Finds Two Wanted Contacts of Index Case
As Nigeria continues to battle the virus, the Lagos State Government has quarantined six more persons over suspected case of the virus.
This figure excludes the two confirmed cases.
The state government has also found the two missing Nigerians who sat close to the Italian index case during his flight from Istanbul to Lagos on February 27.
Addressing journalists yesterday, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Abayomi Ajayi, said the six cases comprised a family of four children and their teacher, who came into Nigeria from the United States, and were believed to have been in close proximity with someone suspected to be infected with the disease prior to their trip, and a traveller from the United Kingdom, who showed certain symptoms associated with the disease.
He said: “We have kept the family in our centre now for two days. Their first test came out negative. We will repeat it within the next 48 hours. The one from the UK will be tested this evening.
“The three persons, who were in isolation earlier this week, have been released because they tested negative to the virus.”
According to him, the two names released on Monday to the media by the Lagos State Government were persons who had contact with the index case, but that they have now been identified, adding that necessary protocol has been instituted to ascertain their status.
“The media really did well. It was very quick to have them identified. I was surprised at the speed at which they reached us,” he added.
He also stated that the Italian index case was recovering fast even though he was still secreting the virus.
He said: “The other confirmed case is in a stable condition. He had little symptoms, which have now been taken care of. We will repeat his test tomorrow to be sure he is no longer secreting the virus.”
Abayomi cautioned Nigerians against buying face masks, noting that the commodity should be left for sick persons and healthcare workers.
“What Nigerians need to do is wash their hands under running water. We have now moved to address issues of shortage of hand sanitisers in Lagos State. The Ministry of Health has started producing its own sanitisers. In a matter of days, we will release it into the market.
“We embarked on this because it is not good for people to start profiteering from hand sanitisers because of Coronavirus. This product is very easy to make. It is a simple combination of alcohol, gel, glycerin, water and other materials in the correct proportion. It is not rocket science. Everyone can actually make it,” he noted.