The second coronavirus case in Nigeria has been declared negative, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire announced on Friday. He said the person made contact with the Italian who brought the first case to Nigeria, and was quarantined for two weeks but has now tested negative and will be allowed to go home soon.
“The contact of the index case is testing negative for the virus now, meaning he has cleared the virus and will be allowed to go home,” the honorable Minister announced in Abuja.
Apart from the second case, the Minister said the index case is making tremendous progress and is being closely monitored with the hope that he will be discharged next week.
“The index case is clinically stable and is much improved. Stable progress until next week will guide the medical team in discharging him,” he added.
Shedding more light on the activities of the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC), Enahire said there have been four new cases under observation. He said a group of four teachers from the United States along with two students are currently under isolation in Lagos, which reinvigorates the call to place travel bans on countries with the prevalence.
But the Minister said the Federal Government has not placed a ban on any country yet, so the Ministry of Health is only acting in accordance with the decision of the Government. He also disclosed that the current situation of coronavirus in Nigeria has not warranted any need for travel ban, reiterating that the Ministry of Health is stepping up measures, which includes surveillance and screening at various ports of entry, especially the international airports.
The Federal Government has been criticized for allowing entry of persons from infected countries into Nigeria. There have been calls for travel ban on countries with rising cases of COVID-19, as a precautionary measure as many believe that Nigeria lacks the medical competence to contain the outbreak in case of widespread.
“Two weeks ago, when Nigeria recorded its index case of the coronavirus, I had cause to urge the Federal Government to restrict flights from nations with a high prevalence of the coronavirus plague. This is in line with global best practices,” said former vice president Atiku Abubakar.
“This is a patriotic call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to take every reasonable step to protect the citizens of Nigeria, by temporarily suspending flights to and from such countries, until we build up our ability to contain the coronavirus” he added.
He added that Nigerian borders should be open to citizens, but Nigeria “must err on the side of caution” to quell the possibility of future infections which will jeopardize Nigeria’s chances to maintain its position as the largest economy in Africa.
“The economic impact of a widespread infestation of the virus in Nigeria will be catastrophic and will affect our national security, and status as Africa’s leading economy. The ravages of this scourge, which has officially been classified as a global pandemic, must not be allowed to test our already fragile economy,” he said.
According to a statement from the Federal Ministry of Health, between January 7 to March 12 2020, a total of 42 people, who met case definition was screened for COVID-19 in 6 states; Edo, Lagos, Ogun, Yobe, Rivers, Kano and FCT, of which 40 tested negative, 2 were confirmed positive, the index case and contact index case, but so far – zero death.
While the efforts of the NCDC and the Federal Ministry of Health are commended, the call to place travel restriction on countries with a high rate of the outbreak has been on high.
On social media, Nigerians have been urging the Federal Government to follow the steps of other countries and initiate travel bans as precaution.
Abdulazeez Bello stated: “Please, restriction should be in place because even football players in Europe are testing positive to the virus. There would be a global recession, naira would fall, inflation rate would be in fold, but importantly, staying alive is worth more than anything.”
The United States on Thursday announced travel restriction on European countries, a measure seen as effective in curtailing the outbreak. In the same vein, Saudi Arabia has imposed a travel ban on many countries across the world in a bid to keep COVID-19 cases in check.
Nigerian Government has been urged to do the same. Many believe that the index case was as a result of screening concentration on travelers coming from China, so the Italian slipped in undetected.
As the virus spread across Europe, many are finding their way to Africa where the scourge has been insignificant. Many are scared that the free movement of people into Africa will make the country vulnerable, especially when the continent is perceived as underequipped to contain the outbreak.