Italian COVID-19 patient arrived in Nigeria aboard Turkish Airlines

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FG directs NTA, VON, others to intensify sensitisation

Disease has pandemic potential – WHO

The Italian national who tested positive for coronavirus yesterday arrived in Lagos from Milan, Italy en route Istanbul on Turkish Airlines.

Lagos State commissioner for health, Prof Akin Abayomi, said at a press briefing on Friday that the Italian arrived on Monday and did not exhibit any symptom of the disease that has killed more than 2,800 people and infected more than 83,000 worldwide with 2, 788 of the fatalities recorded in China- epicentre of COVID-19.

He revealed that the patient slept over in a hotel in Lagos from where he left for Ogun State, where he lodged in an accommodation provided by his host.

Abayomi said the patient fell ill on Wednesday while still in Ogun State and was brought over to Lagos on Thursday, where he tested positive for the deadly flu-like illness.

He said the Italian had been confined at the isolation facility at the Mainland Hospital, Yaba.

The commissioner revealed that the patient had shown no acute symptoms of the virus yet.

He added that the management of the company where the patient work in Ogun State had cooperated with the state government and had also put in place monitoring mechanisms for all those who came in contact with the patient.

FG deploys own media organisations for sensitisation

The minister of information and culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed has directed the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Voice of Nigeria (VON), News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), National Orientation Agency (NOA) and the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) to step up public sensitisation and enlightenment campaign on COVID-19.

He said the exercise was meant to arm Nigerians with the necessary information to stay well.

“With coronavirus now in Nigeria, following the first confirmed case, the federal ministry of information and culture is intensifying its public sensitization and enlightenment campaign on the disease. The saying, ‘information is power’ is most apt at this time.

“The measures being taken by the agencies include jingles on radio and television – up-to-date reports on the efforts being made by Nigerian health authorities to ensure proper screening at the nation’s gateways and also handle possible cases – Continued airing of documentaries on the disease by the NTA SMS sensitisation messages being sent to Nigerians by NAN.

“The NOA, with its wide reach (offices in all the 774 local governments), is pushing the various sensitisation/enlightenment programmes to all the nooks and crannies of the country, translating the campaign to the major indigenous languages to expand their reach features on the disease (prevention, treatment, etc.) are being written and disseminated,” Mohammed said.

He appealed to Nigerians not to panic saying the “government is well-equipped to detect and handle any possible case or cases.

The minister also prayed Nigerians not to fall for the antics of purveyors of fakes news and disinformation.

“We know that at times like this, purveyors of fake news and disinformation usually ramp up their acts. We are therefore urging Nigerians not to fall for the antics of purveyors of fakes news and disinformation R

“Fortunately, Facebook is working with us in this regard. They have asked Nigerians to report any false or misleading report on Facebook and Instagram pages so they can immediately bring them down.

“They have also assured us that they are taking preemptive action to remove any false or harmful messages about this epidemic and public health in Nigeria 24/7.

“All that Nigerians are required to do is to flag any false or misleading report on the epidemic and Facebook will remove any such report,” he added.

Disease capable of spreading to every part of the world – WHO

Considering the rapid global spread of COVID-19, the director general of WHO, Dr. Tedhros Ghebreyesus, has warned all countries to prepare for the outbreak of the deadly virus.

Speaking at yesterday’s briefing, the director general said with new infections reported around the world now surpassing those in mainland China, even rich countries should prepare for the outbreak.

“No country should assume it won’t get cases, that would be a fatal mistake, quite literally,” Tedros said, pointing to Italy, where 17 people have died in Europe’s worst outbreak.

Ghebreyesus cautioned that the international spread of the virus showed it has “pandemic potential.”

Speaking at a news briefing in Geneva, Switzerland on Friday, WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier said the outbreak was “getting bigger” and reiterated the organization’s warning that the deadly flu-like virus could spread worldwide.

His comments come shortly after Nigeria confirmed sub-Saharan Africa’s first case on Thursday, with Brazil reporting Latin America’s first COVID-19 infection less than 48 hours earlier.

The other countries confirming their first cases of COVID-19 on Friday are Azerbaijan, Belarus, Lithuania and New Zealand.

On Tuesday, the WHO had warned countries around the world to be prepared for the coronavirus to be “literally knocking at the door.”

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