FG reviews national strategies for Coronavirus, sets up committee to develop action plan
• Approves Release Of N70 Million Towards Tackling Epidemic
Following the declaration of Coronavirus as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, the federal government has commenced a review of national strategies and plans to ensure collaborated, inclusive and coordinated response to the epidemic.
To this end, a committee has been put in place to develop action plans for government and government has approved the release of N71 million for Port Health Services towards tackling the coronavirus.
Speaking at the Coronavirus Inter-Ministerial Sectoral Preparedness and Response Committee meeting yesterday in Abuja, Minister of Health Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, observed that, “the Coronavirus is spreading rapidly around the world and without intervention, it could spread to communities and overwhelm healthcare facilities and this gives us reason for concern.”
He noted that as at yesterday morning, more than 9700 confirmed cases have been reported mostly in Mainland China and 100 cases in other parts of the world while 213 fatalities have been recorded all in Ubei community in Mainland China which is the epidemic epicenter and no casualty anywhere else.
Ehanire explained that there have been two case alerts in Africa, one in Ivory Coast by a young lady who studies in China and one in Kenya, stressing that there has been no confirmed cases in Africa but that the potential has been clearly demonstrated.
The minister observed that the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Coronavirus epidemic a Public Health Emergency, hence the need for Nigeria to strengthen surveillance to prevent importation of the virus into the country. Ehanire stated that as part of government’s initial response, the Port Health Services at the point of entries at the international airports, sea- ports and land borders is currently implementing measures at all legal borders.
He stated that the temperature detection with thermometers and visual observation of passengers who may have signs of illness are being conducted at the ports entry, stressing that while the risk of importation exists, Nigerians should be assured of the nation’s capacity to detect, assess and respond to this and other public health issues at the point of entry.
According to him, NCDC has activated its Incidence Command Systems for Coronavirus and also working closely with the WHO and other partners to establish testing capacity of its reference laboratory in Abuja or abroad if need be.
The minister said that the engagement will not be effective without the support of State governors especially those hosting the five international ports of entry adding that the ministry is finalising plans with Enugu, Rivers, Lagos, Kano states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) authorities to enhance surveillance, preparedness and response activities in their states. Ehanire reiterated Government’s commitment to strengthening preparedness in the event of a Coronavirus or any other outbreak, stressing that there is no need to panic but to take precautionary measures to avert contracting the virus.