Chinese government to work with Nigeria, others against coronavirus
• ’No Nigerian in China has been infected’
• Lagos moves to contain disease outbreak
The Chinese government yesterday expressed its readiness to work with Nigeria and other countries to ensure an effective response to the coronavirus outbreak. According to the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian, no Nigerian in China has been infected by the coronavirus. He disclosed that about 60 Nigerians lived in Wuhan city, the centre of the epidemic.
Pingjian explained that research was ongoing to discover drugs that could be used to tackle the coronavirus, adding that the geometric rise in the number of deaths as well as the spread of the disease was because the virus was a new disease and it took time before the people appreciated the gravity.
Pingjian, who briefed journalists yesterday in Abuja, said the number of confirmed cases had risen to 17, 205 while 361 had died from the disease, just as 21,558 people were suspected of being infected with the virus in the Chinese mainland. He said 475 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery.
The envoy observed that fighting the spread of the epidemic was a common concern of the international community and urged all countries to adopt a responsible attitude, work together to combat the virus, and avoid overreaction that may result in more negative spillover effects.
He noted that the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) last Thursday not because of what was happening in China but about protecting countries with weaker health systems, and which were ill-prepared to deal with potential spread.
According to him, China has taken the most comprehensive and rigorous containment and mitigation measures and many of them go well beyond the requirements of the International Health Regulations (2005).He said that by doing so, China was not protecting only the health of its people, but also that of people around the world.
Pingjian, who decried sigmatisation in form of movement restrictions being enforced by some countries, averred that the WHO had confidence in China’s capacity to control the outbreak, adding that there was no reason for measures that would unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade as WHO did not recommend limiting trade and movement.
“That is not the best way to control the disease. The director-general’s recommendations should be seriously considered. Under current circumstances, solidarity is what the world needs. The epidemic is occurring mainly in China, with limited spread to other countries. The Chinese government is committed to safeguarding the safety and health of the Chinese people. We will, in a responsible manner, safeguard the safety of every foreign national in China, including the Nigerian expatriates, and address their legitimate concerns in a timely manner. We will continue to strengthen communication and coordination with the international community and work hand in hand for epidemic prevention and control.”
On the level of assistance being given to Nigerians in Wuhan city, who are in self-isolation, the ambassador said they were in communication with them. He added that all citizens of other nations, including Nigeria, were being given equal treatment as their Chinese counterparts.
Meanwhile, to prevent an outbreak of coronavirus in Lagos, the state government yesterday launched an incident command system.The health emergency structure is being set up to help contain the virus if it breaks out in the state.
According to the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, no suspected or confirmed case has been found in Lagos. He warned residents against rumour mongering on public health and safety.The governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, while launching the incident command system said the measure was not to stigmatise citizens of any country but a precautionary one taken in the interest of the people.The system will have Sanwo-Olu as the incident commander while the commissioner for health will serve as the deputy incident commander.
The governor hinted that relevant health professionals, in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Health, would be deployed to the Lagos International Airport for a higher level of monitoring.He assured Lagos residents that the governmental and non-governmental organisations would continue to escalate communication and create public awareness.
“What we have started to do is to have what we call a heightened state concern on the coronavirus. We are not declaring an emergency in any form but creating a heightened state concern.
“Also, the commissioner, through his ministry, will identify relevant health professionals that would, in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Health, be deployed to the airport where we would see higher level of monitoring as well as organised level of incidence reporting layout.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu said that although the team expected people to be self- quarantined, the state government would carry out a supervised quarantine where details about immigrants would be taken at the point of entry while the team would do daily follow-ups through phone calls to identified individuals for a period of two weeks.
According to the governor, the command will be in operation for the period of time the risk lasts. He assured Lagosians that adequate preparation had been made to tackle the virus.