ELEVEN more people have been quarantined in Ogun State on account of having physical contact with the Italian carrier of Coronavirus.
They include the driver who picked him from a hotel in Ikeja and those that served him food and drinks in the hotel.
The Ogun State Government on Saturday dismissed speculations that the taxi driver of the coronavirus patient was on the loose.
The Italian himself has been relocated from his original isolated ward to a renovated one, according to Lagos State Health Commissioner Akin Abayomi, while the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) promised to ensure the deployment of all resources to promptly respond and contain the spread of coronavirus in the country.
There are now a total of 39 people quarantined in connection with the index case of coronavirus in the country.
Twenty-eight were originally taken in by Friday.
Giving an update on the situation yesterday at Ewekoro, Ogun State, the Industrial Director of Larfarge Africa Plc, Mr. Segun Soyoye, said the guest house where the Italian stayed and the vehicles including the ambulance used to convey him had been sealed off.
He spoke during an assessment visit to the company’s premises by a combined delegation of the Ogun State government, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
He said the Italian was at the factory to inspect some installed machines brought from a Swedish firm.
He said the man did not go beyond the company’s guest house at Ishofin Estate and he was evacuated as soon as he developed abnormal temperature indicative of coronavirus.
Soyoye added: “The Italian came for a business visit. He was in Lagos on Monday and slept at Airport Hotel, Ikeja. Our driver took him there, and when we observed abnormal temperatures and symptoms, we quickly instituted an Emergency Response Team which is led by the Company CEO.
“We had to find a way of analysing and identifying not only the Italian but also the other contacts.
“The contacts are now 39 and we have quarantined them, the house and clinic as well as the vehicles. We don’t take chances. That is why they are put there.
“Today is Day 3.They will be there for 14 days. We will continue to observe them, we have their database, showing their biodata and other information.
“The doctor is here and what he is doing is to check them on a regular basis. So far everybody is stable. They are not symptomatic. We are providing everything for them over there.
“The other thing that I have not said is that the clinic that was used for the infected person is closed; disinfected and we moved everybody out.
“All the guys on duty that day, they were also quarantined. So they will be there for 14 days as well.”
No one escaped from isolation centre – OGSG
Earlier on Saturday, the Ogun State denied a social media report that the taxi driver of the coronavirus patient in the country was on the loose.
Government described as fake news, the social media report which quoted the ‘driver’ as demanding the sum of N100m (One hundred million naira) from the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tomi Coker and threatening to spread the disease if not paid. Nothing can be further from the truth.
“Everyone that had any link with the Italian victim of the dreaded virus since he arrived the country has been quarantined. The others, who these primary contacts also had interactions with are equally being monitored,” Kunle Somorin, the Chief Press Secretary to the state governor said in a statement.
He said: “We wish to put it straight that there is nothing of such. It is the figment of the imagination of some unscrupulous elements whose desire is to incite fear in the members of the public.
“As a government, we assure that all the people already quarantined are in good spirit and they are cooperating with our medical personnel.
“Besides, we already have the phone number of some few other contacts the Italian national came close to and they are being monitored.
“There is no reason to panic. The situation is being controlled and contained.
“It is therefore important we do what is expected of us as individuals in terms of personal hygiene and in ensuring that we sensitize those suspected of symptoms associated with COVID-19.”
Infected Italian relocated
The Lagos State Government debunked a report that the index case of Corona Virus Disease isolated at the Lagos Mainland Hospital tried to escape from isolation.
Health Commissioner Akin Abayomi said the patient never expressed any desire to leave the facility to the doctors and nurses who look after him.
“I have spoken to him myself, he is doing very well, he is comfortable; he was comfortable yesterday and he is comfortable today,” Abayomi stated.
The Commissioner noted that the patient was initially kept in a single isolation room for his privacy when he was brought in because part of the facilities at the Mainland Hospital was being renovated. He added that the patient has subsequently been moved to one of the newly renovated wards.
Said he: “We were renovating part of the facility, so we kept him in a single isolation room for his privacy but we have subsequently moved him to one of our completed wards recently renovated with full complements of facilities, so he is right there now and he is comfortable.
“As of this morning, his condition has improved, he hasn’t developed new symptoms but he still got a mild fever and we will be running test to see what the situation is with the virus in his body and as soon as we get a negative screen, we will keep him for another two or three days and repeat the test to make sure that there are no more virus particles in his saliva and that means that he will not be contagious. Then, we give the OK for him to be released back into the community.”
He also described as true a social media report that a taxi driver who had contact with the index case had disappeared.
On the bio-safety facility, the commissioner said: “This is a specialist facility and there is no level of carelessness going on in this facility.”
“The staff here, including the staff in the bio-safety level laboratory, are well trained and certified biosecurity specialist, so there is no unprofessionalism in this environment.”
He allayed fears over availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for medical personnel, saying: “So we are stocked up for now, if we need to buy more, we know exactly where to get it, so we are not worried about PPE supply.”
While restating that the State government is prepared to contain and break the circle of transmission of the virus, he explained that the Lagos State Government has been building capacity for any biosecurity threats to Lagos since the Ebola virus incident of 2014.
“We have been preparing since Ebola incident of 2014 and as soon as Lagos was certified Ebola, we have been building capacity. This is evident in the level of sophistication in some of the facilities here at Mainland hospital. We have not been sitting down or relaxing, we don’t want to experience what happened in 2014 again, so we are ready and we will continue to build that capacity year by year.
“Presently, we are refurbishing the facilities to make sure anybody we bring here is in a comfortable position. We are trying to improve the internal facilities of the wards. One ward is complete, it can hold 14 patients. The tents are complete; they can hold 20 patients each. The fourth ward will be completed in another two days that would hold another 14 patients.
“The facilities here are world class, we have a biosafety level 3 laboratory, which is one of the very few in the continent of Africa, very modern design, specially designed to handle very dangerous pathogens so that we can make the diagnosis onsite and the staff there are specially trained, So we are ready for any biosecurity threat to Lagos State.”
Aviation authorities comb manifest of Turkish Airlines
Anxiety mounts over the index patient of Coronavirus in Nigeria, aviation and health authorities are combing the manifest of passengers on the Turkish Airlines aircraft that flew the Italian into Nigeria.
The Federal Airports Authorities of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Port Health Services and National Centre of Disease Control, according to sources , are profiling the passengers on the same flight as the index patient with a view to tracking them for necessary tests.
The airlines is said to be cooperating with government agencies on the matter.
A source said the Ministry of Aviation will update Nigerians on the findings of the agencies in due course.
Meanwhile, FAAN said it will continue to scale up screening activities for both in bound and out bound passengers at airports nationwide.
Besides, anxiety has enveloped workers at airports on the discovery of the first index patience of Coronavirus.
Screening has intensified for passengers arriving from with South East Asia countries and others countries with reported patients of Coronavirus.
An immigration official said search light is being beamed on passengers with visas to affected countries.
NGF pledges to curb spread, ensure prompt response
The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has promised to ensure the deployment of all resources to promptly respond and contain the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
The NGF, in a statement by its Chairman, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, urged Nigerians to desist from spreading false information about the disease and to be prompt in reporting any case to relevant agencies.
The forum, he said, has “initiated surveillance and emergency response in all states to ensure that quick response and attention is given to anyone showing symptoms of the disease. “
The NGF encouraged Nigerians to “self-quarantine if they notice symptoms related to the viral disease and contact the nearest health facility within the states.”
It also appealed to the general public to be “calm and follow precautionary measures recommended by the Federal Ministry of Health and other relevant government agencies.
“We also enjoin citizens not to spread fake news and misinformation that can trigger fear, panic and chaos.
“The Federal Ministry of Health and other designated Federal and State agencies will provide the relevant updates related to the disease.
FCCPC warns against increase in prices of hygiene products
The Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) yesterday warned suppliers and retailers not to take undue advantage of citizens by hiking the prices of basic safety and protective apparel such as face masks, latex gloves, sanitizers and anti-bacterial wipes, in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak.
Such products, it said, are necessary in preventing infections or the further spread of the virus and the indiscriminate rise in the prices violates both moral codes and extant laws which prohibit obnoxious trade practices.
It said its surveillance efforts have “revealed that some otherwise reputable pharmacies and department stores are engaging in price gouging and manipulating supplies in a manner that distorts the market, or temporarily restricts availability in order to unreasonably/unfairly increase prices.
“Any conspiracy, combination, agreement or arrangement to unduly limit or manipulate supply, in order to unreasonably enhance price or otherwise restrain competition is a criminal offence under S.108(1)(b) and (c), FCCPA.
“Any exercise or exploitation of undue pressure in selling or the sale of goods or services, or price manipulation between displayed, and selling price are also serious violations of the FCCPA under Sections 115(3) and 124(1).
“Taking advantage of the possibility of infection by a dangerous communicable disease to control supply, or unilaterally increase prices is predatory as it preys on the desperation of citizens.”
Catholic Church suspends sprinkling of holy water, handshakes at mass
There will be no handshakes and sprinkling of holy water during mass in Catholic Churches in Lagos until further notice.
This is to help in checking spread of Coronavirus.
The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Alfred Martins, in a statement advised church members to have hand sanitizers.
He also said that communion will now be received on the palm.
“The shaking of hands during the time for the Sign of Peace during Mass is suspended for the time being,” he said.
“During this season of Lent, in order to reduce the number of gatherings in Church to the barest necessary, we encourage people to do Stations of the Cross privately on Wednesdays while public celebrations will take place only Fridays especially as it is often followed by Mass.
“Communion, for the time being, shall be received on the palms. People are encouraged to have Hand Sanitizers handy to be used as and when needed.
“The use of Holy Water fonts in churches and public places should be suspended till further notice. May the Lord deliver us from this plague and all evils.”
CAN urges govt to be proactive and prevent spread
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday asked the three tiers of government to rise up to the challenge of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) now that the country has recorded its first case.
General Secretary of the association, Joseph Daramola, said in a statement in Abuja that CAN “will not cease praying until the disease is chased out of our shores.”
He said: “The God who answered our prayers when the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), which is deadlier, came calling is still on the throne and that same God will also grant us victory over the COVID-19 in Jesus Name.”
CAN advised politicians not to politicise it but join hands together to ensure the disease does not spread: “as we also advocate cooperation and understanding between every state and the Federal Government.”
The religious body also urged every church to make water, soap and sanitizers available for worshippers before and after service, beginning from today, (Sunday).
It appealed to all Nigerians, irrespective of their religious and political persuasions, to embrace simple rules of hygiene regularly for safety reasons.
Daramola said: “They should also follow these professional counsel: Avoid panicking. Regular washing of hands with water, soap and sanitizers (where available). Avoid crowded places and people who are coughing or sneezing. Covering of mouths and noses with a handkerchief or tissue while sneezing or coughing and Avoid self-medication.”