FG on red alert over coronavirus, says SGF
• Cautions against stigmatisation
• Panda supermarket closure not connected with disease says Chinese envoy
• Assures embassy remains open in Nigeria
The Federal Government has assured citizens that it is prepared to combat the deadly Coronavirus in the advent of an outbreak in the country and urged non-stigmatization of infected persons should the case arises.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, who stated this yesterday in Abuja at a one-day sensitisation programme on the spread of Coronavirus and Lassa fever, said that rumours about the spread of the disease should be avoided.
“We have been informed by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control that they have set up their response centres and that they are mounting surveillance. Medical personnel have also been put on standby to attend to any emerging issue.
“What we are doing today is the responsibility of management to create awareness within our workforce. The issue of stigmatisation should be reduced to the barest minimum. No fiction, no rumours, science and facts are what we want to deal with,” he said.
Mustapha, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, General Services Office, Mr. Olusegun Adekunle, urged members of staff of the OSGF to take the precautionary measures seriously to remain safe.
The Head, Response Division in the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Olaolu Aderinola, had earlier noted that the virus, which has so far spread across 23 countries, is yet to enter Nigeria, urging Nigerians not to stigmatise Chinese residents in the country.
He also warned against misinformation on the virus, especially on the social media, adding that the NCDC is co-ordinating a Coronavirus preparedness group to respond to any possible outbreak.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Zhou Pingjian, has disclosed that the closure of a Chinese supermarket in Abuja last week by officials of the Federal Government is not connected with the coronavirus but with some alleged trade malpractices of the retail outlet.
The supermarket, known as Panda and located in the Jabi District of Abuja, was closed by officials of the Federal Consumer Protection Commission as a precautionary measure in the wake of the ravaging virus.
Pinjiang, in a chat with editors in Abuja on Monday, said the decision to close the shop had nothing to do with coronavirus, which he said, was preventable, curable and controllable, saying that “there is no need to cause unnecessary panic and fear as proactive and concerted efforts by stakeholders are being taken to checkmate the disease.”
He also said that flights were not cancelled because of the virus but for lack of passengers.
He assured that his country with the support of World Health Organisation (WHO) and other countries are taking appropriate steps to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, also known as nCoV.
The ambassador, who disclosed that Chinese scientists had tentatively traced the source of the virus to bats, which infected humans with the disease, said that many Chinese nationals who travelled to celebrate the lunar year and who were expected back in Nigeria from February 2, 2020, stayed back because of restriction on travel from China and ease of access to medical CAS at home.
Pingjian expressed optimism that with the completion of a 1,000-bed hospital within nine days in Wuhan and another big one to provide emergency medical services to those who might be affected by the virus, the epidemic would be contained within a reasonable time but he did not specify when.
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