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How to contain COVID-19, by experts

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Concerned that the country may be overwhelmed if concerted efforts were no applied to contain the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, medical experts have proffered solutions on how best to stop the disease.

They among other things urged: the Federal Government to suspend all flights from China, Italy, and Iran until further notice; we need to maintain same protocols used for the Ebola crisis; regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap, water, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer; follow good respiratory hygiene by covering mouths, noses with handkerchief, tissue while sneezing, coughing; stay indoors if you feel unwell with symptoms, such as fever, cough, difficulty in breathing; and government needs to set up coronavirus hotlines for cases of people who had traveled to such places as China, Italy, and Iran.

The medical experts include a professor of virology, educational administrator, and former vice-chancellor of Redeemer’s University, Oyewale Tomori; and President, African Federation of Fertility Societies (AFFS) and Secretary-General, International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS), Prof. Oladapo Ashiru; and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu.

What is the implication of the import of the virus into Nigeria?
Tomori’s who has done several researches on viral infections including Ebola hemorrhagic fever, yellow fever, Lassa fever and served as the Regional Virologist for the World Health Organisation Africa Region (1994-2004) told The Guardian: “Should we have an importation or importations and we are unable to rapidly contain the importation, then there will be a disruption of our essential health services, economic fall outs and complications of our control efforts for other diseases.

Ashiru, who is the joint pioneer of In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) in Nigeria and an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago, United States, told The Guardian: “A case of the coronavirus in Nigeria has several ramifications; a country of almost 200 million. The positive side is that it is a foreigner from Italy who slipped through our border but was quickly isolated and sent to the Infectious disease. What is important now is to limit it to prevent community infection. A community infection can have far-reaching consequences. Luckily most of our Ministries of Health at Federal and State levels had a similar level of preparedness with the Ebola Virus. The whole population would need to be on alert. It calls for us all to exercise caution and exhibit a very high-level of respiratory hygiene.”

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What should be done now to prevent spread by the government and by individuals?
Tomori said: “Improve performance at our borders and get people to comply with WHO guidelines and government directives.”

Ashiru, who is also the CEO of MART Group, said: “The WHO has identified Laboratory diagnosis as a priority. To strengthen global #COVID19 lab diagnostic capacity, WHO has procured a commercial assay with robust performance data, and shipped to over 150 laboratories globally as an interim measure for the Member States requesting support. Our Government must ensure the supply is available in specialized laboratories in each state capital at the list and in highly populated cities. Our Government needs to set up CORONAVIRUS HOTLINES for cases of people who had traveled to such places as China, Italy, and Iran

“We need to suspend all flights from China, Italy, and Iran until further notice. Otherwise, all arrivals from such cities would need to be monitored and quarantined at home with daily reports of temperature sent NCDC.

“All hospitals, Supermarkets need to reactivate the procedures implemented during the Ebola crisis, like measurement of temperature and hand washing. Anyone with high temperature must wear a mask, and the hotlines called for further actions.

“The public needs to be alert and very vigilant. We need to maintain the same protocols we used for the Ebola crisis.”

To reduce the risk of infection or spread of COVID-19, Ihekweazu advised members of the public to adhere to the following hand and respiratory hygiene measures:
• Wash your hands regularly with soap under running water and use hand sanitisers frequently

• Cover your mouth and nose properly with tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing and immediately dispose of the tissue in a covered waste bin. After this, wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser

• You may also cough into your elbow if disposable tissue is not available. You are strongly advised not to re-use handkerchiefs

• If you become sick while travelling, you should avoid close contact with other people while you are symptomatic and cover your mouth and nose with a face mask

• Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing

• Healthcare workers are always advised to observe standard infection prevention and control measures when attending to patients and take a travel history

On what can businesses do to protect their staff, the NCDC boss said: “Businesses have an important role to play in protecting their employees. Employers are advised to circulate NCDC’s public health advisory on COVID-19 to all staff. Encourage sick employees to stay at home if they are unwell. Ensure routine cleaning of high contact areas such as toilets, door handles, telephones. If the staff has travelled to any of the countries with ongoing transmission, they should be advised to self-isolate for 14 days.”

How dangerous is this virus?
Tomori said: “Depending on age and health condition, mortality could be as high as 14 per cent-15 per cent, but in the young and healthy it is usually below one per cent.”

Ashiru said: “We do not know how dangerous the virus is yet. However, so far, more than 25 per cent of those who have it have died.”

With what is on the ground in the country can Nigeria contain coronavirus?
Tomori said: “Yes, to some extent…. provided we do not have multiple importations and we rapidly contain any importation.”

Ashiru said: “Nigeria can contain the virus and show the world that we are competent. We did it very well during the Ebola crisis. medical personnel has to be extremely careful and monitor the hospitals. The public must cooperate and understand that the measures taken are for there safety.”

The fertility expert said henceforth, all hospitals must monitor the temperature of every person who enters their premises. I suggest the following:
a) If the temperature is reasonable, the guest or staff can proceed into the premises after washing the hand and or using the hand sanitizer.

b) If the temperature is high, and the person had not traveled recently, let them put on a mask before entering your premises and until they live after washing the hands and the sanitizer.

c) If the temperature is high and has recently traveled, apply a mask for yourself and ask the person to be masked and call the CORONAVIRUS HOTLINE and put an identified quarantine place.

“Let us remember that the process of greeting like the Italians by kissing on the chick twice or thrice, and hugging suspended for caution. Use sanitizer after shaking hands. Keep a distance from someone coughing frequently,” he said.

Who should be blamed for the import of coronavirus in the country despite warnings from the WHO?
Tomori said: “Importation of corona is inevitable so we cannot blame anybody. However, the blame comes if we are unable to contain the importation and the virus spreads in the country…then the blame will be primarily that of the government and secondarily blame the people for not complying with set guidelines to protect ourselves and prevent infection.”

Ashiru said: “The infected person is, to my understanding is an Italian who leaves in Nigeria. Our Border control needs to be extremely careful with such people. India, Suadi Arabia, and a few other countries have suspended the issue of visa to anyone coming from Countries with high Coronavirus infections like China, Italy, and Iran. We may consider such options if we have any further increase.

“Right now, if we can ensure no further infection other than this isolated case, we would be fortunate.

“Finally, our Country, even with limited resources, was able to prevent the Ebola virus. We commend Dr. Ameyo Adadevoh for being the frontline of our defense then. Hopefully, this time our medical team would be well protected to prevent any loss of life.”

Ashiru said for those living in Lagos state, the following are the recommendations:
1. Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water, and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

2. Maintain at least one and half metres (five feet) distance between you and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

3. People coughing persistently or sneezing should stay indoors or keep a social distance, but not mix with a crowd.

4. Ensure that you and people around you follow good respiratory hygiene by covering mouths and noses with a handkerchief or tissue while sneezing or coughing. You can also sneeze or cough into your sleeve at the bent elbow. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.

5. Stay indoors if you feel unwell with symptoms, such as fever, cough, and difficulty in breathing. Please call Lagos State Emergency hotlines 08023169485 or 08033565529 or 08052817243 which are available day and night.


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