31st January 2020| PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY TO NIGERIANS ON NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (#2)
This is the second public health advisory on a new virus; the novel coronavirus 2019 (nCoV), by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control. As this is a new virus, and new information is emerging every day, this advisory will be updated as new information and research on the virus and its impact on populations become available.
The Emergency Committee reconvened by the WHO Director-General on the 30th January 2020, declared the novel coronavirus 2019 outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). This is to halt the spread of the virus outside China, stop person-to-person transmission and provide a global coordinated effort to enhance preparedness in other regions of the world that may need additional support. It is expected that further international exportation of cases may appear in any country and preparedness is critical.
The Nigerian Government is closely monitoring the ongoing novel coronavirus 2019 outbreak which originated in Wuhan, China. As at 30th January, it has spread to 18 countries (Japan, Republic of Korea, Vietnam, Republic of Singapore, Thailand, United States of America, Australia, Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, French Republic, Malaysia, Canada, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Germany, United Arab Emirates, Philippines, India and Finland) affecting four continents (Asia, Europe, USA & Australia).
So far, there are 7,818 confirmed cases with 170 deaths. Case Fatality Rate is currently 2.2%. Till date, there is no confirmed case of the novel coronavirus on the African continent.
Given the present situation, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has put in place quick and diverse strategies to prevent importation of cases into country. A multi sectoral Coronavirus Preparedness Group has been constituted to carry out regular epidemic intelligence gathering, enhanced surveillance at the points of entry, intensive risk communications, strengthen laboratory capacity for testing, placing National First Rapid Response Team to highly pathogenic infections on alert, scaling up of Public Health Emergency Operation Centres in states etc. (PHEOCs already established in 22 states)
The Coronavirus Preparedness Group has representatives from Federal Ministry Of Health (FMoH), Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), World Health Organization (WHO), US Centers for Disease Control (US-CDC), Pro-Health International (PHI), Public Health England (PHE) and others working with the NCDC in assessing and managing the risk of importation of the disease to Nigeria, as well as making preparations for early detection and response.
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are normally transmitted between animals and people. A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain of the virus that has not been previously identified in humans. Some coronaviruses can be transmitted from person-to-person, usually after close contact with an infected patient, for example, in a household or healthcare setting. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. For this novel coronavirus (nCoV), while most initial transmission appeared to be zoonotic, person- to-person transmission has occurred.
The Chinese Government has extended the Lunar New Year holiday and put in place other measures to dissuade their citizens from traveling out of China, as part of many significant measures to contain the spread of the virus outside China. There are major travel restrictions in the main affected areas in China and air passengers traveling from Wuhan, 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 encouraged to self-report to the relevant authorities on arrival.
The Port Health Services unit of the Federal Ministry of Health has heightened screening measures at points of entry. In addition to automated thermal screening at points of entry, travellers from China to Nigeria, are asked questions upon arrival by the Port Health Services unit about symptoms of illness and travel history and are advised to contact NCDC if they feel unwell after a trip to Wuhan.
Nigerians are advised to remain calm. Travellers from Nigeria to Wuhan, China, are advised to avoid contact with sick people, animals (alive or dead) and animal markets.
This new coronavirus appears to cause mild to severe respiratory symptoms like cough, fever and breathing difficulties. From current evidence about 98 persons out of 100 persons with the disease recover, and it appears that death is a rare outcome, mostly in patients with underlying health issues.
There is no specific treatment yet for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. However, many of the symptoms can be treated. Therefore, treatment is based on the patient’s clinical condition. In addition, supportive care for infected persons can be highly effective.
The Federal Ministry of Health through NCDC and its partners are fully committed to strengthening our preparedness and response to infectious disease outbreaks. Information will be shared with the public as it becomes available.
How to protect yourself
To reduce the risk of spread of coronavirus, members of the public are advised to adhere to the following measures:
• Wash your hands regularly with soap under running water.
• Cover your mouth and nose properly with handkerchief or tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing. You may also cough into your elbow if a handkerchief is not available.
• Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
• Avoid self-medication, report to the nearest health facility when you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms.
• Healthcare workers are always advised to observe standard infection prevention and control measures when attending to patients and take a travel history.
• Travellers from China who show no symptoms on arrival, but who have a fever and cough within 14 days of arrival in Nigeria, should contact NCDC on 0800-970000-10
As the situation is evolving, this advisory will be updated as more information becomes available.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is the government agency with the mandate to lead the prevention, detection, and control of communicable diseases. Its functions are to prevent, detect, investigate and control communicable diseases of national and international public health importance.
NCDC Toll-Free Number: 0800 9700 0010