The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, is under self-quarantine after returning from China, health minister, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has said.
The minister stated this on Tuesday while briefing the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, on the country’s preparedness for the coronavirus epidemic.
He said the NCDC chief executive was in China as part of the World Health Organisation (WHO) research team to study the nature of the virus.
He said though the DG tested negative, but the agency has already established rule that any returnee from China must self-quarantine for 14 days.
The minister said, “We were honoured that one of the scientists that WHO had chosen to go to China to study the disease was the DG of NCDC.
“They went there for nine days, during which they carry out investigation. But we have already established rules here that anybody who has been to China will go to self-quarantine.
“Chikwe has gone (to China) and come back and has done the test. It’s negative, but we have insisted that he must undergo the 14days of quarantine which is why he was not here today.
“It’s not allowed to come out until after 14 days, because if you make rules, you must also obey them, which is to set example for Nigerians that the head of NCDC is self-quarantine as we speak. He’s very well but he has to follow the rules.”
He said the quarantine is for observation until incubation period, which is scientifically proven to be about 14 days, has passed.
He said many of the passengers who were with the Italian, who was tested positive, had been tracked down except 40, adding that the details will be made available later.
He said the contact tracking would continue, adding that there are currently four isolation centres in Nigeria – Lagos, Kano, Abuja and Port Harcourt.
The Senate President and other lawmakers present expressed concerns over the state of the four isolation centres in the country.
They said except Lagos, the other centres are below standard.
Lawan also called for the setting up of isolation centres across the six geopolitical zones.
But the minister, in his response, said the centres were well-built and according to technical standards set by the WHO.
“The centre in Gwagwalada, Abuja, is standard though temporary and has been inspected by the NCDC and it is adapted to be used until the main centre is completed,” Dr. Ehanire said.