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Nigeria intensifies preparation for possible coronavirus outbreak


• WHO warns infection is ‘rapidly’ fitting category for Disease X
• Scientists alert disease may kill 80 million people

Concerned that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is spreading globally and killing more people, the Federal Government said it had intensified preparation for possible import of the disease into Nigeria.

Also, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the virus has the potential to become pandemic that may affect all the nations in the world at the same time and is rapidly fitting category for the mysterious illness called Disease X that the agency predicted would kill 80 million people.

Minister of Health, Dr. Emmanuel Osagie Ehanire, told The Guardian yesterday: “Port Health Services of Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) has continued to strengthen surveillance at all points of entry to Nigeria, especially airports, by checking all passengers’ temperature and travel history, while watching for tell tale symptoms. If positive, they are sent for checkup at Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) else, we take address and phone numbers of those who arrived from China or high-burden states, tell them to self-isolate at home and monitor their status for 14 days.”


The minister said the Federal Government had promptly approved all resources requested by the NCDC, which had started stocking up commodities.Ehanire, who stated that the NCDC is setting up surveillance systems nationwide for early detection and response with rapid response teams, said that the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) had scaled up immunisation against meningitis, measles and so on.

Reacting to the current hot and humid weather being experienced in most parts of the country, the minister said: “In the tropics, hot and humid weather is our lot and we must adapt. We pay special attention to disease types prevalent in our environment, like vector and water-borne and vaccine preferable diseases. Public health education is important too to improve nutrition, sanitation and hygiene.”

Meanwhile, according to a WHO representative, the coronavirus sweeping the planet could be the ‘Disease X’, which experts have warned about.A virologist for the WHO, Dr. Marion Koopmans, said: “Whether it will be contained or not, this outbreak is rapidly becoming the first true pandemic challenge that fits the Disease X category, listed to the WHO’s priority list of diseases for which we need to prepare in our current globalised society.” Her comments came less than six months after a report led by a former WHO official, warned that a flu-like illness could kill up to 80 million people if it breaks out.


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