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Nigeria on alert for “new coronavirus”

Nigeria has gone on alert for the new coronavirus after the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) issued a health advisory detailing five ways individuals…

Nigeria has gone on alert for the new coronavirus after the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) issued a health advisory detailing five ways individuals can reduce their risk of contracting the new virus that has emerged in China.

The centre advises:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap under running water
  • Cover your mouth and nose properly with handkerchief or tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing. You may also cough into your elbow if a handkerchief is not available.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing
  • Avoid self-medication, report to the nearest health facility when you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms
  • Healthcare workers are always advised to observe standard infection prevention and control measures when attending to patients and take a travel history.

More information is still emerging about this new virus, and NCDC says it will continue to update the advisory as research uncovers its impact on populations.

Coronaviruses are zoonotic viruses already in existence and transmitted between animals and humans. But the new one named 2019nCov is a strain that has been found in humans for the first time.

The first case was confirmed on January 7, among patients said to have either visited or worked in the Huanan Seafood wholesale market in China’s Wuhan city.

By January 20, some 278 cases of 2019nCoV infections have been confirmed by laboratory tests, and six people have died.

Many of the initial cases were thought to have contacted the virus through animal-to-human transmission from the market, but human-to-human transmission has also been established.

More cases are expected to be reported in coming weeks.

Beyond Wuhan, cases have been confirmed in other cities in China; Guangdong, Beijing and Shanghai.

As at the 21st of January, five cases have been confirmed in four other countries; Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea and the United States of America, all with a travel history to China.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has convened its Emergency Committee on Wednesday to determine whether this outbreak should be declared a “Public Health Event of International Concern”.

NCDC is coordinating a multisector technical group to assess and manage the risk of 2019nCoV being imported into Nigeria.

The Port Health Services unit of the Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria has been placed on alert and has heightened screening measures at the points of entry.

Travellers from Wuhan city have been undergoing enhanced screening at airports and ground transport stations in China since January 14.

This include temperature checks, combined with provision of information and masks to passengers with fever, as well as directing symptomatic passengers to health facilities for follow up.

NCDC has advised travellers from Nigeria to Wuhan to avoid contact with sick people, animals (alive or dead), and animal markets.

“Travellers from Wuhan to Nigeria, may be asked questions upon arrival by the Port Health Services unit at points of entry about symptoms of illness and travel history, and are advised to report immediately to NCDC, if they feel ill after a trip to Wuhan,” the advisory warned.

“This new coronavirus 2019nCoV appears to cause mild to severe respiratory symptoms like cough, cough and breathing difficulties,” it said of the symptoms.

“From current evidence, it appears that death is a rare outcome, mostly in patients with underlying illness.”

There is no specific treatment for illness caused by the novel coronavirus yet, but many of the symptoms can be treated.

“Therefore, treatment is based on the patient’s clinical condition. In addition, supportive care for infected persons can be highly effective,” it added.