Public Health Advisory to Nigerians on the Coronavirus Disease from the NCDC
By Bethel Okoye
This is an updated advisory on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) which will be updated frequently to reflect new information and research emerging on the disease and its impact on populations.
The novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is a new strain of the virus that has not been previously identified in humans. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The Federal Ministry of Health through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) activated a national Emergency Operations Centre at the highest level and is leading the national public health response. The NCDC is also working closely with the State governments of all affected states through the deployment of national Rapid Response Teams to support States’ response activities including contact tracing.
Several measures have been instituted by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 together with the Federal Ministry of Health to curtail the spread of the disease and protect the health of Nigerians. In line with this, the Federal Government of Nigeria issued a ban on all international flights effective from the 23rd of March 2020 with the exception of emergency and essential flights for an initial period of time. Directives were also issued at national and state level, to cancel large gatherings including religious gatherings, schools, events etc.
The Federal Government mandated the lockdown of all non-essential activities in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun States effective from the 30th of March 2020 for an initial period of time. As the taskforce continues to review national response activities, more preventive measures may be instituted or recommended as the situation demands.
The NCDC has continued to expand laboratories for the testing of COVID-19. Currently, there are thirteen (13) laboratories in NCDC’s molecular laboratory network with the capacity to test for COVID-19 in Nigeria. These laboratories were sufficiently equipped with reagents and supplies for testing.
Through the #TakeResponsibility campaign by the NCDC, Nigerians and residents in the country are urged to join forces and to be proactive by taking greater individual and collective responsibility in preventing and controlling the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria. All COVID-19 related resources, guidelines and real-time updates on new cases in Nigeria can be found on www.covid19.ncdc.gov.ng.
NCDC TRAVEL ADVICE
Nigerians are strongly advised against non-essential travel including inter-state travel. The NCDC is working in collaboration with the Port Health Services, Nigeria Customs Service and Nigeria Immigration Service to ensure enhanced surveillance at land borders and seaports. Ships arriving at the seaports are subjected to mandatory health screening and clearance by the Port Health Services. This particularly applies to ships that sailed from high-risk ports or have been at sea for less than 14 days and/or that have crew members who are ill. The NCDC has also developed and disseminated the guidelines for self-isolation.
TRAVELLERS TO NIGERIA
NCDC has advised all travelers without symptoms on departure who become ill on transit should report immediately to the Port Health Services on arrival.
All returned travelers to Nigeria will be placed on institutional quarantine at a facility identified by the Federal Government of Nigeria. This is mandatory for all travelers to Nigeria and will be tested if any traveler develop symptoms during this time.
ADVICE FOR HEALTH WORKERS
The NCDC has advised all health workers to strongly maintain a high index of suspicion for COVID-19, always observe standard infection prevention and control measures when attending to patients and adhere to detailed information. For sample transportation and advice on a case that fits the national case definition, health officials are advised to call their State hotline or +7032864444.
NCDC ADVICE FOR BUSINESSES
In addition to the lockdown in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun States, some state governments have issued directives for the closure of non-essential businesses. For businesses that are not affected, the NCDC has advised businesses to do the following:
- Adapt the #TakeResponsibility campaign and disseminate information to all employees, clients and visitors.
- Ensure the provision of and access to facilities for hand washing, emphasising the importance of hand hygiene.
- Mandate the 14-days self-isolation for staff who have recently returned from outside Nigeria.
- Mandate sick employees to stay at home.
- Ensure routine cleaning of high-contact areas such as toilets, door handles, telephones etc.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
To reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19, members of the public are advised to adhere to the following measures:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap under running water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based sanitiser if water is not available.
- Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness. Maintain at least 2 metres (5 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing repeatedly.
- Do not mingle with people or congregate if you feel unwell with symptoms like fever, cough, sneezing or difficulty breathing.
- Cover your mouth and nose properly with a tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing. Dispose of the tissue properly immediately after use. You may also cough into your elbow if a tissue paper is not available.
- Obey national and state directives requesting the cancellation and avoidance of large gatherings, including places of worship, social and sporting events.
- For individuals in non-healthcare who opt to wear masks, this must be done in addition to all protective measures listed above.
ABOUT CORONAVIRUS DISEASE (COVID-19)
COVID-19 appears to cause mild to severe respiratory symptoms like fever, cough and difficulty in breathing. From current evidence, about 80 persons out of 100 persons with the disease will recover. In about 10-15% of cases, it will cause a severe illness. It appears that death is not a common outcome and occurs mostly in elderly patients with underlying health issues.
There is no specific treatment yet for COVID-19. However, many of the symptoms can be treated. Treatment is based on the patient’s clinical condition but supportive care for infected persons can be highly effective.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is the government’s agency with the mandate to lead the prevention, detection, and control of communicable diseases. They function to prevent, detect, investigate and control communicable diseases of national and international public health importance.
Contact NCDC Toll-Free Number on +23480097000010, Mobile number +2347036708970, SMS +2348099555577 or WhatsApp +2347087110839
Follow them NCDC on Twitter/Facebook: @NCDCgov or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org