Maureen Ihua-Maduenyi, Dayo Ojerinde, Friday Olokor, Umar Muhammed, Daud Olatunji and Bola Bamigbola
The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, has said the Italian being treated for coronavirus at the Infectious Disease Centre, Yaba, is depressed although getting better.
At a briefing on Thursday, Abayomi said the Italian, who had been at the centre for one week, was responding to treatment, but would only be released when he would no longer be a threat to the other members of society.
“The Italian has been with us for one week now; his clinical situation is quite stable, the symptoms are dramatically resolving; so, we are expectant that we will continue to make this kind of progress.
“Sometime over the weekend, he developed a respiratory symptom, and we initiated some therapy in the form of ant-viral, which are not curative, but just to make it easier for his immune system to fight the infection. He seems to have responded to that; so we are keeping him on that and there are no side effects.
“As of today (Wednesday), he is in a better spirit; he requested psychosocial support as he was getting a bit depressed because he is isolation. He is the only person in the ward, and of course, very few visitors, because his family is not in Nigeria.
“His last viral load, which is the measure of the virus in his body, shows that the level is going down. If that trend continues he will be better. I can’t give the precise estimate in terms of the date that he will be released, it may not be long, perhaps another week. As soon as he is not secreting the viruses, that means he is no longer contagious. However, to be safe, after we get the first negative, we wait a few days and repeat it and if the second test is negative then we are confident that he can return to the community without posing a danger to other people,” Abayomi said.
The commissioner added that two passengers onboard the Turkish Airlines with the Italian were still missing.
“As regards the number of people we are trying to identify, as of the close of work on Wednesday, we have 15 people who are yet to be identified. Out of the 15, we have been able to identify 13 of them as of Thursday. That means we are looking for two more people onboard the flight that brought the Italian, excluding the 65 who have travelled out of Lagos.
“If I can’t find those two people between now and tomorrow (Friday), I will be asking the press to help me put the information about them in the media. I’m trying to hold back their information for the sake of privacy,” he said.
Abayomi added that a Nigerian who returned from France on Monday was in isolation at the Infectious Disease Centre, Yaba.
He said the patient was referred to the Infectious Disease Hospital by a private hospital in Lagos.
“He is a Nigerian who went to France, spent seven days there, returned to Lagos three days ago (Monday) and presented with headache and some respiratory symptoms. Because he has been in a country where there is an active person-to-person transmission, it could be common cold and there is a possibility it could be coronavirus. He has been put in isolation and the test is being run right now; I am expecting the result,” Abayomi said.
Osun directs higher institutions to embark on sensitisation
Meanwhile, Osun State Government on Thursday directed all institutions of higher learning to sensitise students to the preventive interventions to stop the spread of the disease.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Health, Dr Olasiji Olamiju, gave the directive in a letter sent to the Ministry of Education, Provost, College of Health Technology and the Principal, School of Nursing and Midwifery in the state.
The letter also directed all recognised institutions to spread necessary awareness to curb the transmission of communicable diseases.
Olamiju in the letter recommended frequent hand washing, use of handkerchief, tissue paper or covering of the mouth with arm while coughing or sneezing, as parts of measures to stop the spread of the disease.
Also, a non-governmental organisation, Hope for Family Development Initiative, has embarked on a sensitisation and enlightenment campaign on the scourge of coronavirus.
The Executive Director of the organisation, Stephen Aremu, who led officials of the NGO on the sensitisation tour to towns that included Obaagun, Iba, Iree, Ilesha and Ile Ife, explained that effort of the group was aimed at preventing the spread of the disease to Osun State.
Return pilgrims’ money, NAHCON tells tour operators
Similarly, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria on Thursday gave an order to tour operators to return money to pilgrims who had paid for Umrah (lesser hajj).
The directive followed the suspension of Umrah by the Government of Saudi Arabian due to the international spread of coronavirus.
The commission also encouraged intending pilgrims, whether for Umrah or Hajj under private arrangements, to sign agreements on the types of package they were paying for and should indicate category of services being paid for and other terms and conditions of engagement.
The directive was contained in a statement by the Head of Public Affairs in NAHCON, Fatima Sanda sent to The PUNCH in Abuja.
‘Distribute health declaration forms onboard’
However, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has ordered all airlines operating international and regional flights into Nigeria to issue health declaration forms to their passengers and crew members before arriving at Nigerian airports.
The regulatory agency said the order was as a result of failure of some airlines operating international and regional flights into Nigeria to provide self-reporting forms to their passengers.
The General Manager, Public Relations, Mr Sam Adurogboye, said on Thursday that a letter had been issued to all airlines and other stakeholders.
He said, “Airlines are to remind passengers to provide factual address and phone numbers to enhance contact tracing in case there is a need to do so.
“The health declaration or passenger self-reporting forms will be collected and evaluated by the personnel of Port Health Services on the arrival of the passengers and crew members alike.”
GMD advises members on epidemic preparedness
Also, the President of the Guild of Medical Directors, Prof. Femi Dokun-Babalola, has stressed the need for its members to be prepared for disease outbreaks.
Dokun-Babalola spoke through the Lagos State Chairman of the guild, Dr Dapo Morawo, on Thursday in Lagos at a sensitisation workshop on coronavirus organised by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and the Guild of Medical Directors.
He said, “About 70 per cent of health care in our country takes place in private hospitals; the chances of a patient with coronavirus coming first to a private hospital are very high.”
The GMD president added that the training would focus on an enhanced level of preparedness, heightened index of suspicion, acquisition of appropriate kit, first-line treatment, robust and informed referral mechanism and patient education.
As of March 5, no fewer than 96,132 cases had been confirmed, which has led to the deaths of 3,305 patients globally.
No symptoms in 39 quarantined persons, says Ogun
Meanwhile, the Ogun State Government has said the 39 persons on quarantine in the isolation facility of a company in Ewekoro have not developed any symptom of coronavirus disease.
The state commissioner for Health, Dr. Tomi Coker, said this while leading a team to the Redemption Camp of the Redeemed Christian Church of God along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
Coker said this in a statement sent from the state Ministry of Information on Thursday.
The statement indicated that the team was received by the senior pastors of the RCCG during the sensitization.
Coker explained that the global emergency posed by COVID-19 informed the need to sensitise religious leaders who would take the message to their various communities.
She called on religious leaders to join the government in enlightening the members of the public.
Coker said, “We all know that coronavirus is a global emergency. The index case, a 44-year-old Italian national, who was transferred from Ogun State to the Bio-Security Laboratory is responding to treatment.
“Even the people who have been quarantined are not developing any symptoms.
“The need to keep spreading the message of personal hygiene at different levels is very important. Hence, we want to solicit your support in fighting this disease.”
In her remarks, the Team Lead, African Region, World Health Organisation, Prof. Bola Olayinka, underscored the need for social distancing in the event of respiratory tract infection.
She urged that the habit of touching face and other parts of the body without washing hands should be discouraged.
Responding, Pastor Odesola thanked the state government for the gesture, promising that the pastors would not fail to spread information on the importance of personal hygiene in their various localities.
Nasarawa creates hotlines for outbreak
In a related development, the Nasarawa State Commissioner for Health, Ahmed Yahaya, on Thursday summoned a stakeholders’ meeting at the ministry to create awareness on coronavirus.
The commissioner, during the meeting, announced some hotlines that residents could call to inform government of any suspected case of coronavirus.
The announced mobile lines were 08036018579, 08035871718, 08033254549, 08036201904 other are 08032910826 and 08121243191.
Speaking during the meeting, Yahaya said Nasarawa State had already created a centre where suspected patients would be admitted for treatment.
He said though the state had not recorded any case of coronavirus, government had shown commitment towards tackling the disease.
The commissioner said, “Prevention is better than cure; on that basis, this action is call on us to take our duty very diligently.
“It is our responsibility to create awareness, engage ourselves to know the circumstances and the effect or impact of the disease; so that we take better decisions to keep the state and country from the diseases.
“In this awareness we said the media and other stakeholders are necessary to reach including religious leaders.”
He urged all the people of Nasarawa State to take their personal hygiene seriously.
We now have three suspected cases — LASG
The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, later said the state had three suspected cases in isolation at the Infectious Disease Centre, Yaba.
Abayomi via his Twitter handle @ProfAkinAbayomi, said, “We now have three suspected cases under isolation in our containment facility in Yaba. One from France, one from England and one from China. Their samples have been taken and results are being expected.”