The Nigerian government has explained why it is not isolating travellers coming into the country.
Briefing reporters on Friday in Abuja, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, attributed the government’s action to the recommendation of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
He gave the briefing in company with the Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, and top officials of the Federal Ministry of Health, following the outbreak of coronavirus in Lagos.
“The question of quarantine; the World Health Organisation advises everybody, all countries that there is no need to put every single traveller into quarantine,” the minister revealed.
He added, “There are some other countries who choose to do differently but we followed the guidelines of the World Health Organisation which states that ‘screen all persons who are entering your country, take their travel history; if they are coming from a country that has a burden of coronavirus, invite them for further questioning.”
Ehanire noted that the United Nations agency recommended that newly arrived travellers should also be advised to stay in isolation for 14 days, in the interest of their family and loved ones.
He stressed that the government has been working very closely with the WHO – the global body monitoring public health situations and security, as well as giving health advisory to various nations.
The minister revealed that they have organised training for health workers on how to enlighten the public and prevent themselves from getting infected when treating coronavirus patients.
He stated that they were stepping up efforts at the international airports as preventive measures have been taken even before the first case was recorded in the country.
Ehanire said, “Our focus is on the four cities with international airports – Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano; the Enugu Airport has been closed and I understand it will be opened very soon.
“The WHO warned just a day before that all countries should brace themselves for possible spread of coronavirus into their states and since then, we have continued beefing up our own security.”
“The second thing that they said is that coronavirus symptoms may not manifest with the first several days; the person who gets infected may not show any signs within the first few days (three to five days).
“So, the gentleman who came here apparently may have gotten infected at the point but walked through the screening with no symptoms and by the time he got to his house, he started to feel unwell,” he confirmed.
The minister explained that the patient tested negative for malaria at the hospital after which the officials contacted the appropriate authorities, having known his history.
He added that the Italian was referred to the testing centre at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) where he tested positive to coronavirus.
Ehanire noted that the patient had been isolated from the referral hospital in a special ambulance where the driver was well-kitted.
He, however, refused to disclose the identity of the patient and the company he works with, saying that would be done based on seeking their permission.
The minister stressed that the case recorded was not as a result of failed screening, stressing that the process went well without any glitch.