FG SEARCHES FOR OVER 200 PEOPLE THAT HAVE HAD CONTACT WITH ITALIAN WHO TESTED POSITIVE TO CORONAVIRUS

Sequel to the detection of the disease in Nigeria on Thursday, the governments of Lagos and Ogun states have begun the search for those persons who may have had contact with the patient.

Saturday PUNCH also learnt that they might also be placed under surveillance for two weeks once identified by the government.

Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi, said during a press conference on Friday that the Italian, whose identity has yet to be revealed, tested positive for the virus in Lagos after he travelled to Ewekoro, Ogun State, for a business appointment at Lafarge Africa Plc.

Abayomi stated that the Italian flew a Turkish Airlines flight into the Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Lagos, from Milan, Italy, having transited through Istanbul, Turkey.

Meanwhile, Saturday PUNCH exclusively learnt that there were 121 passengers on the Turkish Airline flight.

The commissioner, however, noted that the patient did not exhibit any symptom as of the time he arrived in the country.

He explained that the patient spent the night in a hotel around the airport area in Lagos before he left for a consultancy appointment in Ogun State, where he was also lodged in an accommodation provided by Lafarge.

The commissioner revealed that the patient fell ill on Wednesday while still in Ogun State and that he was transferred to Lagos on Thursday where he was diagnosed with the virus, after which he was quarantined.

Also speaking during a press briefing in Abeokuta on Friday, Ogun State Commissioner for Health, Dr Tomi Coker, noted that before arriving in Ogun State on Tuesday morning, the patient had made contact with three people in Lagos State in the night.

She added, “He stayed at a guest house and at about 4pm on Wednesday February 26, he developed fever. The hospital of Lafarge was very sensitive to the case, they responded immediately and contacted Lagos that they had a high suspicion.”

Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, who was a guest on Television Continental on Friday, said, “This young man came in from Milan. He came in on the 26th. He has a consultancy job with a company in Ogun state.

“He went to Ewekoro and then he fell ill and the doctors were smart enough to say this is somebody that is coming from Italy that has just suddenly fell ill. So they took him in. So we sent an ambulance there with a pep jacket. So they brought him in and then he was diagnosed.

“Within four hours, he was diagnosed. Our diagnostic tool seemed to work better than we expected. Normally it takes about eight hours but within four hours, we were able to determine it. So he is in our bio-security lab in Yaba.”

Nigeria is the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa and the third country to record the Coronavirus after Egypt and Algeria since its outbreak in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

As of Friday, 83,000 cases have been confirmed, out of which 8,000 were classified as serious. At least 2,800 deaths have been recorded while more than 36,000 people have since recovered.

Apart from China which has the highest number of cases, the Coronavirus has spread to over 20 countries of the world, including the United States, Japan, Italy, South Korea, Iran, Hong Kong, Australia and Taiwan.

The World Health Organisation has since declared the disease outbreak as a global health emergency while scientists and pharmaceutical companies across the world are battling to find a vaccine for the disease.

Lagos tracks 120 other passengers on Turkish Airlines with Italian

Following the detection, the two state governments are making efforts to monitor all those who had come in contact with the patient.

Hamzat said the government was trying to track everyone on the flight and everyone he had made contact with.

He said, “What we are doing now is that he came in through one airline, so we are trying to track everybody on that flight. He went from Lagos to Ewekoro. Who has he met? What has happened? Those are the people that we are tracking, isolate them and then check.”