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NCDC DG leaves self-isolation, resumes work today

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Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and consultant epidemiologist, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, has come out of self-isolation or quarantine, which he started on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 after a trip to China.

Ihekweazu in an email chat with The Guardian said: “Please, I am back to work on Monday, and not answering questions relating to my well being. I am absolutely fine. Send a set of questions that focuses on the issues we are dealing with.

Since he embarked on self-isolation, he has been participating in meetings, conferences and interviews through video calls, Skype, emails, text messages, Twitter and WhatsApp messages, among other communication methods.

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He followed NCDC’s advice that Nigerians who recently travelled to countries hit by the virus should stay at home for 14 days, even if they do not have any symptoms.

“I am well and have continued my duties from home since my return from China as part of the World Health Organisation (WHO)-China Mission on COVID-19. The rumour that I am sick or in quarantine is obviously false. I look forward to returning to the office after 14 days of self-isolation,” he said.

However, his resumption will be just seven days after going into self-isolation against the WHO-recommended 14 days.

Meanwhile, the Italian man who was identified on Thursday, February 27, 2020, as the first confirmed case of coronavirus in Nigeria and placed in isolation at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos, will today mark 11 days in isolation.

There are indications that he may be discharged after 14 days if he tests negative to the virus.

Ihekweazu also told The Guardian that the patient was under care at the Infectious Disease Hospital, adding, “We are monitoring his viral load through laboratory tests at regular intervals. The Lagos State Commissioner for Health has been providing regular updates on his wellbeing.”

Responding to a question on his chances of survival and the kind of treatment he was being given, he said, “Patients with coronavirus can either have mild, severe or very severe symptoms. Till date, the patient in Nigeria has had mild symptoms and is being treated using the WHO recommended protocol for COVID-19 cases.”

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On whether the victim would likely to be certified free of the virus, Ihekweazu said, “We will continue to manage the patient until his viral load is at a level where he is healthy and no longer infectious.”

“The coronavirus disease is caused by a new strain of the coronavirus. We are still learning a lot about the disease. It is too early to provide conclusive facts on side effects. Scientists across the world including Nigeria are working very hard to understand the virus,” he added.

Also responding to a question on the update of contact tracing and other national efforts, he explained, “The Ministry of Health through the NCDC is coordinating a multi-sectorial Emergency Operations Centre. We are working closely with Port Health Services of the Federal Ministry of Health, as well as Lagos and Ogun State ministries of health to carry out contact tracing.

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