By Abujah Racheal
Abuja – The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), says it has put in place quick and diverse strategies to prevent importation of novel coronavirus cases into the country.
The Director General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Monday in Abuja, that the NCDC National Reference Laboratory, Abuja, had the capacity to test for the novel coronavirus.
Ihekweazu said that the multi-sectoral Coronavirus Preparedness Group had continued to carry out regular epidemic intelligence, gathering enhanced surveillance at the points of entry, intensive risk communications and strengthening laboratory capacity for testing.
According to him, other measures include placing the National First Rapid Response Team to highly pathogenic infections on alert, and scaling up of Public Health Emergency Operation Centres (PHEOCs) in states among others.
He said that PHEOCs had already established in 22 states.
He explained that the Coronavirus Preparedness Group had representatives from Federal Ministry of Health, Office of the National Security Adviser, World Health Organisation (WHO), U.S. Centre for Disease Control, Pro-Health International and Public Health England.
The NCDC boss disclosed that the Chinese government had extended the Lunar New Year Holiday and put in place other measures to dissuade their citizens from traveling out of China.
“The Chinese government has instituted many significant measures to contain the spread of the virus outside China including major travel restrictions.
“Air passengers travelling from China are screened on exit to prevent the exportation of the virus. This includes temperature checks combined with the provision of information and masks to passengers.
“Passengers without symptoms on departure but become unwell in transit are advised to self-report to the Port Health Services on arrival,” he stressed.
He, however, commended the Chinese government for the measures and for its travel advisory to passengers departing from China to Nigeria.
He said the Port Health Services unit of Federal Ministry of Health had heightened screening measures at points of entry.
He said that automated thermal screening had been added at points of entry noting that travelers from China to Nigeria were asked questions upon arrival by experts about symptoms of illness and travel history.
“If you have returned from travel to Nigeria from China in the last 14 days, you should (self-isolate) stay indoors and avoid contact with other people.
“Please follow this advice even if you do not have symptoms of the virus to protect yourself and your loved ones. If you experience any symptoms, please call the NCDC immediately on 0800-970000-10(Toll free call centre),” he advised.
Ihekweazu said that NCDC would continue to receive advice from WHO, which was coordinating global response activities. As at the Feb,1 confirmed cases had been reported from 25 countries outside of China.
“Till date, there is no confirmed case of the novel coronavirus on the African continent,” he said.