Things are looking up for the country in the fight to stop the spread of coronavirus, according to statements released on Friday by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, and the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi.
In separate press conferences held in Abuja and Lagos respectively, Ehanire and Abayomi indicated that the index case, an Italian visitor to Nigeria discovered about two weeks ago, is now in good health while the second case of a Nigerian who had contact with him in Ewekoro, Ogun State, has now tested negative to the virus and would be discharged any time from now.
All the 179 people who were on isolation in Lagos because they had contact with the index case have also been released after staying in isolation for more than the mandatory 14 days without showing any signs of the virus.
Of the 179 people who had contact with the index case, 40 were quarantined in Ogun State while the rest were monitored in Lagos State.
At a press conference he addressed on the coronavirus situation at Alausa, Ikeja on Friday, Prof. Abayomi said initially, 179 contacts with the Italian were traced, but since they had exceeded the mandatory 14 days isolation without any of them showing any signs of the disease, they had been let off.
He said the index case still remained on admission, but noted that “he is perfectly well now. We are only keeping him because he still has some secretion of the virus.
“Test shows that anytime from now, he may be negative. If he is negative, we will conduct another test within 48 hours after and if he is still negative, we will set him free.
“We are close to discharging the index case. We want to be sure he poses no danger to the society anymore.”
On the second case of a Nigerian who initially tested positive to coronavirus for being in contact with the index case, Abayomi said he had now tested negative twice and might have been released.
He said: “His tests initially showed that he was positive to coronavirus twice and now, he has tested negative to the virus twice on two consecutive tests carried out.
“The remaining contacts in Ogun and Lagos states remain symptom-free and they have exceeded 14 days surveillance, which means that we have been able to interrupt the transmission between the index case and others.
“The index case and its threat to Nigeria have been eliminated.
“Those isolated in Ogun State have been discharged. We will not follow up the contacts again because none of them has developed symptoms. We are discharging all.”
On the four children and their teacher quarantined recently, the commissioner disclosed that they had been discharged as they all tested negative to the virus, likewise another man from the US who was earlier quarantined.
On the next move, Abayomi said: “We believe that by being extremely aggressive, we will curtail the outbreak,” adding that the state government had sent more health personnel to the airport to assist the Federal medical team.
Echoing Prof. Abayomi at a press briefing in Abuja on Friday, Health Minister Ehanire said the index case was now clinically stable and much improved, adding that when the viral load is at acceptable limits, subject to the review of the doctor, he may be discharged.
The minister said: “As at today, 13th of March 2020, Nigeria has recorded still just two confirmed cases of COVID-19.
“One case is now negative and will be discharged from care, while the other will follow in a few days.
“The index case (the Italian) is clinically stable and is much improved. Steady progress till early next week will guide the medical team in discharging him.
“The second confirmed case, a contact of the index case, is testing negative for the virus, meaning he has cleared the virus and will be allowed to go home.
“Between 7th January and 12th March, 2020, a total of 42 people who met our case definition have been screened for COVID-19 in six states-Edo, Lagos, Ogun, Yobe, Rivers, Kano and FCT-out of which 40 tested negative and two were confirmed positive: the index case and a contact of index case, with no deaths.
“A group of four children and their teacher flew into Lagos from the United States. Prior to their arrival, Nigeria CDC was informed by US-CDC that this group had been in the same space with a confirmed case. We therefore sent these travelers into isolation on their arrival.
“Tests were done, which came back negative for all of them. They will stay in self-isolation for 14 days.
“After 14 days of follow up with no symptoms, all contacts of the index case will be permitted to go home and rejoin society.”
He further added: “WHO has now declared COVID-19 a pandemic. It calls for cooperation and collaborative action to increase resources to quickly detect and control this outbreak.
“It is not a call for fear and panic. COVID-19 cases in China have continued to decline: evidence that the pandemic can be controlled.
“The Federal Ministry of Health is monitoring the global situation closely and seeking WHO advice.
“The Ministry through Port Health Services will prioritise measures for the containment of COVID-19, especially the screening of passengers at points of entry.
“Citizens are advised to discourage the spread of misinformation. Please ignore them as the only intent is to cause fear and panic. Rely only on information from authorized channels of the Ministry of Health, NCDC or State Ministry of Health.
“NCDC has launched a new website focused solely on COVID-19. It is updated daily and has information needed, including daily situation reports, guidance for schools, guidelines for health workers and more. The website is covid19.ncdc.gov.ng.”
“The multi-sectoral EOC (Emergency Operations Centre) continues to oversee national response activities. We have progressed in assessing treatment centres and have now ensured that every state identifies a location that can be used to manage cases.
“We are supporting these states to scale up capacity to meet existing needs
“On 12th of March, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs organised a meeting with members of the Diplomatic Corps in Nigeria. We provided the Ambassadors and High Commissioners updates on Nigeria’s response strategy.
“We also called for solidarity and cooperation in responding to this pandemic and especially to urge their governments to introduce tighten health screening at their points of departure so as to reduce risk of virus exportation to other countries.”