In furtherance to the placing of the patient of the Coronavirus disease, a 44-year-old Italian, in a quarantine centre, Lagos and Ogun state governments have identified at least 100 persons who had contact with the index case of the disease in the country.
Subsequently, the contacts are being followed up as a precautionary measure against the spread of the virus in the states and the country at large.
Nigeria had been spared of the coronavirus outbreak, which was first recorded in Wuhan, China, until it was detected on Thursday on an Italian businessman aboard a Turkish Airlines flight arrived at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos from Milan, Italy, having transited through Istanbul, Turkey.
The victim arrived in Lagos on Monday night and was said to have spent the night in a hotel around the airport area before leaving for business in Ogun State on Tuesday morning.
He was said to have fallen ill, after which he tested positive for the virus. He was thereafter taken to the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.
However, authorities said the patient was clinically stable.
Speaking on Saturday, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi, said the patient was clinically stable and had no signs of respiratory symptoms which could make his infection contagious.
Abayomi also said over 100 contacts with the Coronavirus index case had been identified and followed up.
In an interview with Channels TV, which was monitored by one of our correspondents, the commissioner stated this at the Emergency Operation Centre at the Mainland Hospital in Yaba, where the patient was being quarantined.
“By Saturday, his symptoms had subsided. He hasn’t developed any respiratory symptoms and we are quite happy about that because if he has respiratory symptoms like coughing and sneezing, which makes the disease more contagious,” Abayomi said, adding that the 100 persons the Italian had contact with were being jointly monitored by Lagos and Ogun states.
Earlier in an interview, which was monitored by one of our correspondents, Abayomi said the authorities had identified the hotel room where the Italian patient lodged on Monday night.
“We’re going there this morning (Saturday) to decontaminate the room and the entire hotel. We will identify all the people who had contact with him in the hotel,” he said.
Plateau quarantines three Chinese nationals
As part of measures to stop the spread of the disease in Plateau State, the state government said on Saturday that it had quarantined three Chinese citizens.
It said that the Chinese were quarantined in Wase town for suspected case of the virus.
The state Commissioner for Information, Dan Manjang, disclosed this to Channels Television.
The report noted that the Chinese, who are workers in a mining site in Wase, flew into Abuja on Wednesday.
Manhang said, “The situation right now is that they have been isolated. The three of them came in through Abuja and once we heard that, the Commissioner for Health had to take a proactive measure to send a medical team to Wase to investigate.”
The commissioner was also quoted to have said that the quarantined Chinese nationals made their way to Jos, the Plateau State capital, on Thursday, adding that they were being clinically examined by a medical expert deployed by the state Ministry of Health.
However, he said there was no confirmed case of the virus in the state, and that people should remain calm.
He said, “The problem that we have is that there is a tendency for people to think that investigation or quarantine, as the case may be, means that there is an outbreak of the virus.
“As far as Plateau case is concerned, there has been no known case of this virus on the Plateau; we just took proactive measures to make sure that we place them (the Chinese nationals) under investigation and that will take 14 days.”
The government, according to the commissioner, awaits the report of the team that was sent to Wase before taking the next step.
C’River monitors five foreigners
Also, five foreigners who arrived at Margaret Ekpo International Airport in Calabar, Cross River State, on Friday have been placed under observation following the detection of a carrier of the virus in Lagos.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Beta Edu, on Saturday said, “We profiled five foreigners who came in from locations that have recorded the virus and they came in through Lagos that morning (Friday).
“We got their biodata and asked them to self-isolate. And of course we gave them the thermometer and got their contacts. We have been following up with them. None of them has shown any symptom so far. Two of the foreigners are from Europe, one from India and two from China.”
She said sensitisation was being carried out and all entry points into the state were being manned by health workers to detect and prevent the spread of the virus in the state.
She added, “Our isolation centre is ready and protocols have been sent to all health workers.
“Special protective equipment have been sent to all health workers, the army, paramilitary agencies and private practitioners across the state,” she said.
LASG moves patient to better facility after PUNCH story
Meanwhile, following Saturday PUNCH’s exclusive report that exposed the poor state of the Mainland Hospital, Yaba, Lagos (formerly Infectious Diseases Hospital), the state government said on Saturday that it had moved the Coronavirus patient to a better facility that would make him comfortable.
The report, published on Saturday, pointed out that the patient was angry and had attempted to escape due to the state of the isolation centre.
A health worker at the hospital told Saturday PUNCH on the condition of anonymity on Friday that the patient had been very upset about the surroundings as he “complained of excessive heat and mosquitoes.”
The source decried the “very poor quality” of the isolation centre, lamenting that “the authorities have not matched words with action.”
“There is nothing there (inside the isolation ward) aside from bed and hospital locker. He almost ran away and is still threatening to do that,” adding that the level of preparedness in Lagos State for infectious diseases such as Coronavirus and Lassa fever “is zero.”
The report was in contrast to the earlier claim by the Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, who said on Friday on a programme on Television Continental that the state government had built a facility to handle the situation and that the patient was getting better.
Hamzat had said, “It is a lab that can accommodate 100 for now, but it is only one bed that is occupied today. Hopefully, it wouldn’t spread. We are ready and we are well equipped. He (the patient) is there and he is getting better. He is steady. The doctors say he is going to be fine.’’
But, following the report that showed the true state of the facility against government’s claims, the state Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi, who had in a tweet on his page earlier in the day referred to the report as fake news, admitted on Arise TV when he appeared as a guest on a programme that the patient indeed complained about discomfort but that he had been moved to a better facility.
Abayomi said, “I saw him at about 6pm yesterday. He was explaining his condition and we were taking some new data from him.
“He’s in an isolation room all by himself and we had moved him into a particular room because we were doing a general overhaul of the whole facility because we want to be ready.
“There were some discomfort in terms of heat, but about 9pm we moved him over to the renovated facility which has lots of air conditioners, fans and it’s a 28-bed brand new facility, and he’s there on his own in the whole ward, and as of 6am this morning I’m told he’s comfortable.”
Renovation still ongoing at hospital
Our correspondent also observed during a visit to the isolation centre that ongoing renovation was ongoing.
The commissioner, however, said the renovation was to improve the internal facilities at the centre, adding that, “Work has been completed in one ward, it can hold 14 patients; the tents are complete, they can hold another 20 patients each; another ward will be completed in another two days and that will hold another 14 patients.
“If we get another 10 patients tonight, we are still okay. It’s not a construction in its entirety; we are just refurbishing the facilities to make sure anybody we bring is in a comfortable position.”
Number of quarantined persons in Ogun hits 39
Also, in furtherance to the 28 persons that were quarantined in Lafarge’s factory in Ogun State on Friday, the company’s Industrial Director, Segun Soyoye, said on Saturday that the number of those identified to have had contact with the patient, who visited the company’s facility on Tuesday, had risen to 39.
The patient had visited the factory on Tuesday for a business appointment after arriving in the country on Monday evening. He was said to have developed fever while still with the company.
But, speaking on Saturday while addressing journalists at the plant facility in Ewekoro, Ogun State, Soyoye said all the contacts had been quarantined alongside the guest house, clinic, as well as the vehicles used in conveying them.
He said the quarantined persons included the driver, who took the patient from a hotel in Ikeja, Lagos to the factory and those who served him food and drinks. He added that the quarantined contacts would be kept at the isolation centre for 14 days so as to monitor their temperature.
He added, “The doctor is here and so far, everybody is stable. They are not symptomatic; we are providing everything for them over there. The clinic that was used for the infected person is closed, disinfected and we have moved everybody out.”
He, however, debunked the closure of the cement production lines because of the virus, noting that the Italian was in the company to inspect the installations of machines bought from a Swedish firm.
Meanwhile, The Chief Press Secretary to Governor Dapo Abiodun, Kunle Somorin, in a statement denied reports that the taxi driver of the patient in the state escaped. The report had claimed that the driver escaped and threatened to spread the virus unless he received N100m from the state Commissioner for Health.
The commissioner, Tomi Coker, commended the company for the measures taken so far, noting that the state had also set up an Emergency Operational Centre, which she heads.
The Team Leader of World Health Organisation in Nigeria, Ibrahim Mamadu, also lauded the efforts made by the company.
Pope Francis cancels official engagements as Lagos archdiocese suspends sprinkling of holy water
For the third day in a row, Pope Francis has cancelled his official engagements as he struggles with an apparent cold in Italy where more than 800 people have been infected with the disease.
Although the 83-year-old lost part of a lung to a respiratory illness as a young man, he has never cancelled so many official audiences or events in his seven-year papacy, the Daily Mail said on Saturday.
It also said Francis last appeared in public on Wednesday when he was seen coughing and blowing his nose during an Ash Wednesday Mass. During his weekly audience at the Vatican, the Pope had expressed his ‘closeness’ to Coronavirus-infected patients as he hugged and kissed people in the crowds.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Alfred Martins, has suspended handshakes and the use of holy water fonts indefinitely due to the spread of virus.
The Archbishop, in a statement, also encouraged Catholics to observe the annual Stations of the Cross held at Lent privately on Wednesdays but keep hand sanitisers handy as Holy Communion would be received on the palms.
TheCable quoted Martins as saying, “The shaking of hands during the time for the Sign of Peace during Mass is suspended for the time being. May the Lord deliver us from this plague and all evils.”
Kaduna, Delta on the alert as labour bemoans poor health facilities
The Commissioner for Health, Kaduna State, Dr Amina Mohammed Baloni, said the state government had constituted an Emergency Operational Centre, following the announcement of the first case of the virus in Lagos.
Also, the Delta State Commissioner for Health, Dr Mordi Ononye, said the state government had established isolation centres in hospitals, airports and other strategic locations in a bid to tame the spread of the virus in the state.
In the meantime, the Trade Union Congress on Saturday expressed its fears over containment of the virus, citing the collapse of health facilities in the country.
TUC, in a statement signed by its President, Quadri Olaleye, and Secretary General, Musa-Lawal Ozigi, pointed out that Nigeria faced a daunting task, especially with more technologically advanced countries battling with little success to control the spread of the virus in their countries.
It said, “We call on the government at all levels to give the health sector the attention that it deserves. Government should provide adequate protective equipment for health workers to be able to do their work effectively. Traveling abroad for medical care is not the recipe. Some viruses are not selective. Coronavirus is on and we must rise up to the occasion now.”
Meanwhile, the Zamfara State Government says it has canceled the trip of 20 of its citizens who were earlier screened to travel to China for studies under its scholarship scheme.
The News Agency of Nigeria reported on Saturday that the state, under Governor Bello Matawalle, had secured admission for 200 indigent students to study various science and technology-related courses. They were to study in India, Sudan, Cyprus, China, among others.
P’Harcourt hospitals operate without sanitisers, face masks
Despite the spread of the virus into Nigeria, some hospitals in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, have yet to start using of hand sanitisers and other protective equipment like face masks.
Our correspondents, who were at different health facilities in the state capital on Saturday, observed as patients walked into the various health facilities without being asked to wash their hands or use sanitisers.
At New Mile One Hospital, a staff member said, “Currently, we have not brought out hand sanitisers at our lobby for patients, only our doctors and nurses inside use it.”
At Mgbundukwu Model Primary Health Care Centre, there was also no sanitiser available for patients and other visitors to the hospital. A staff member, who did not disclose his name, said, “We used to have sanitisers in this health centre, but they were always stolen by patients.”
Also, at the Fortison Hospital along Iwofe Road, only one health worker was seen wearing a face mask, while others were working without protecting themselves.
And at the laboratory section of the hospital, the laboratory scientist was seen working without hand gloves while taking the blood sample of a patient.
FCCPC warns against arbitrary increase in prices of sanitizers, face masks
Meanwhile, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission on Saturday warned suppliers and retailers of safety and protective apparel, such as face masks and latex gloves as well as personal hygiene products like sanitizers and anti-bacterial wipes, against increasing their prices.
The warning became imperative following the high demand for these products due to the need to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The Chief Executive of the FCCPC, Mr Babatunde Irukera, in a statement said, “Any conspiracy, combination, agreement or arrangement to unduly limit or manipulate supply, in order to unreasonably enhance price or otherwise restrain competition is a criminal offence under S.108(1)(b) and (c), FCCPA.
“Any exercise or exploitation of undue pressure in selling or the sale of goods or services, or price manipulation between displayed, and selling price are also serious violations of the FCCPA under Sections 115(3) and 124(1).”
CAN warns politicians, says virus, a sign of end time
Also, the Christian Association of Nigeria has cautioned politicians against politicising the outbreak of the virus but to ensure that the disease does not spread. It noted that the recent development in the world was a sign of the end time as predicted in the Holy Bible.
“More importantly, we want everyone to remember the words of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ concerning the end of the world and His second coming”, CAN’s Acting General Secretary, Joseph Daramola, said in a statement, which also quoted Luke 2: 11-12.
Time to raise suspicion at entry points – NMA
Also, the President of the Nigeria Medical Association, Dr Francis Faduyile, has called on the Federal Government to have high index of suspicion for all visitors coming into the country.
In an interview, “Anybody coming to Nigeria through any of our point of entries should be thoroughly screened. We should have high index of suspicion in our hospitals. More importantly is the awareness we create among the people. People should learn to stay at least 1.5 meters away from someone who is sneezing and those who sneeze must cover their mouth and nose. We should be conscious of washing our hands and we need to protect ourselves more.”
Supply gap pushes price increase of products from China
Findings have also shown that outbreak of the virus has begun to negatively affect trade in Nigeria as prices of some products from China have began to soar.
Checks by one of our correspondents in Abuja revealed that mostly affected were phones produced in China but imported into the country.
Confirming the development, the President, National Association of Nigerian Traders, Ken Ukaoha, said, “The Coronavirus has seriously affected trade between Nigeria and China and the rest of the global community.”