Experts are worried that there could be more cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria in the next two weeks, insisting that it is inevitable because the country has been identified as one of the 13 countries in Africa at a high risk of being overwhelmed by the virus due to weak health sector.
Also, the index case of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Nigeria, a 44-year-old Italian, yesterday completed the 14-day isolation recommended by the World Heath Organisation (WHO).
Although the viral load of the 44-year-old Italian citizen is reducing, he would not yet be discharged from the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH) Yaba, Lagos, as he was not yet totally free from the virus.
The assertion was made by Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu; WHO Consultant on COVID-19 in Nigeria and Team Leader, Expanded Programme on Immunisation, Dr. Fiona Braka and Director, Epidemiology, Biosecurity and Global Health and Incident Manager COVID-19 Outbreak Lagos State Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), Dr. Ismail Abdul-Salam, who spoke with journalists at a roundtable in Lagos yesterday.
They said contrary to some media reports, the Italian was visiting Nigeria for the first time as a consultant to a company in Ogun State, just as it was learnt that the Italian’s wife and brother have also tested positive to the virus in Italy.
“We are worried that we may have explosion of cases of coronavirus in our country. This is why we are given special attention on passengers coming from China, Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan,” Ihekweazu said.
Braka said the WHO declaration that COVID-19 was now a pandemic meant that all countries, especially those at high risk such as Nigeria needed to redouble their efforts to prevent a situation where they would be overwhelmed by the virus.
Abdul-Salam pointed out that Lagos has prepared for the worst case scenario in which many people may be infected with the virus, adding, “At the beginning, even before the country confirmed the first case, with the help of the WHO we have prepared for the worst case scenario.”
Ihekweazu said as at March 11, 2020, there are two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria and apart from the index case, a total of 40 people have been screened for COVID-19 (seven new) in five States (Edo, Lagos, Ogun, Federal Capital Territory, FCT/Abuja and Kano) of which 39 tested negative and have been ruled out, while one confirmed positive which is a contact of index case with no death.