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Coronavirus: NCDC takes actions to curtail spread

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Passengers grab their luggages as they disembark a Turkish cargo plane at the Etimesgut military Airport in Ankara on February 1, 2020, after being repatriated from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the new coronavirus outbreak. Adem ALTAN / AFP

• World Leaders Rally Support For China As Disease Claims 259
• NCDC Reveals Plan To Subsidise Lassa Fever Treatment
• Kaduna Reassures On Lassa Fever

The Federal Government has said it is closely monitoring the ongoing coronavirus 2019 outbreak. As at January 30, the disease has spread to 18 countries (Japan, Republic of Korea, Vietnam, Republic of Singapore, Thailand, United States of America, Australia, Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, French Republic, Malaysia, Canada, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Germany, United Arab Emirates, Philippines, India and Finland) affecting four continents (Asia, Europe, USA and Australia).

Till date, there is no confirmed case of the novel Coronavirus on the African continent.

Given the present situation, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has put in place quick and diverse strategies to prevent importation of cases into the country.

A multi-sectoral Coronavirus Preparedness Group has been constituted to carry out regular epidemic intelligence gathering, enhanced surveillance at the points of entry, intensive risk communications, strengthen laboratory capacity for testing, placing National First Rapid Response Team to highly pathogenic infections on alert and scaling up of Public Health Emergency Operation Centres in states, among others. (PHEOCs are already established in 22 states)
The Coronavirus Preparedness Group has representatives from Federal Ministry Of Health (FMoH), Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), World Health Organisation (WHO), US Centres for Disease Control (US-CDC), Pro-Health International (PHI) and Public Health England (PHE), among others.

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The Port Health Services unit of the Federal Ministry of Health has also heightened surveillance at the points of entry.
To reduce the risk of spread of coronavirus, members of the public are advised to:
• Regularly wash hands with soap under running water.
• Cover 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 advised to always observe standard infection prevention and control measures, when attending to patients and take a travel history.
• Travellers from China who show no symptoms on arrival, but who have a fever and cough within 14 days of arrival in Nigeria, should contact NCDC on 0800-970000-10.

Meanwhile, a report on a Chinese newsletter released in Abuja, yesterday, by Sun Saixiong Press Officer at the Chinese Embassy disclosed that on the Chinese mainland, the total number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus climbed to 11,791 as of midnight of Jan 31, including 259 deaths and 243 who had recovered and had been discharged from the hospital.

Global organisations and leaders are rallying support for the second largest economy in the world to overcome the challenge posed by the disease.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for rational measures for protection and prevention.

“It’s important to not instill too much fear into people and to have them lead a normal life as good as possible in these circumstances,” a WHO spokesperson said, calling for a rational approach to the battle against Coronavirus and not to panic.

The European Union (EU) reiterated its support for China in battling the virus.

The EU said it highly respects and recognises the measures China has taken to contain the outbreak, and admires its quick action in dealing with the epidemic.

Pakistan also affirmed its support for China in the fight against the virus. The country said, Friday, it believes China has the ability to safeguard the health of foreign personnel in its territory, and that Pakistani people will stand with the Chinese people during this difficult time.
India similarly pledged support to China in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

India said it supports the Chinese government and people to go all out to fight the disease and is fully confident that China will win the battle, Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said.

And back at home, the Federal Government has noted that subsiding patients’ hospital management fees in all treatment centres will help improve outcome of Lassa fever management.

Aside treatment cost of Ribavirin and other commodities, which are provided free by NCDC, additional cost of hospital stay, such as bed space, lab, hospital registration fee, IV drip, oxygen and others are usually paid for by patients, except at Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Owo, Ondo State, and few other Treatment centres, with support from international partners.

But now, FG hopes to reproduce this at all treatment centres, through fund from the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF).

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NCDC Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said: “The BHCPF will provide an important new opportunity to support case management. Through the BHCPF, NCDC has begun the initiation of an Indigent Patient Treatment Support (IPTS) fund. This component of the BHCPF is for the management of public health emergencies in Nigeria, managed by NCDC.

“The IPTS is an innovative strategy through the BHCPF to provide subsidised treatment support for indigent patients during infectious disease outbreaks. Our goal is that, by subsidising this treatment to a large extent, patients will present early for treatment and there will be a reduction of deaths from Lassa fever in the country. The IPTS will cover the cost of a comprehensive package of quality care services for Lassa fever cases. We are piloting this in the main treatment centres across the country, starting from March 2020, or into effect as soon as funds are released…”

Also, the Kaduna State Ministry for Health has reassured the public that the outbreak of Lassa fever is under control in the state, though people should still observe strict personal hygiene to avoid contracting the disease.

The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Amina Mohammed-Baloni, who gave an update on the disease in a press statement, yesterday, said the state has recorded a total of 23 cases so far. While 15 test results returned negative, one new case had been confirmed and six test samples pending.

Mohammed-Baloni also said Kaduna State Government is complying with the recent advisory on Coronavirus issued by the Minister of Health, Mr. Osagie Ehanire, that Nigerians should limit non- essential travel to China, while those arriving from such countries with no visible symptoms are to self-isolate for two weeks after arrival.

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