The Federal Government on Monday advised Nigerians not to panic as the country now has a second Coronavirus (Covid-19) case.
It said the latest carrier of the virus is one of the 62 directs contacts of the Italian index case in Lagos and Ogun states, who are currently on isolation.
The good news, according to the Federal Government, is that a team of Nigerian researchers has successfully performed the genome sequencing of the Coronavirus strain that the index case brought into Nigeria.
The breakthrough said Health Minister Osagie Ehanire, has already received the commendation of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Dr. Ehanire announced the new CoviD-19 case at a news conference at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Benin, Edo State.
He, however, did not give the identity of the latest carrier who is presently at the Centre for Disease Control in Yaba, Lagos. That of the Italian index case has been a subject of controversy since his case was confirmed on February 27.
Ehanire explained that the second victim, a male, had contact at work in Ewekoro, Ogun State with the Italian, who is being managed at the Yaba disease control centre.
The Health minister, in company with the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of UBTH, Prof. Darlington Obaseki; and board Chairman, Bashorun Adedoja Adewolu, also clarified that the second case was not the driver who drove the index case from Lagos to Ewekoro.
Maintaining that many persons who had contact with the Italian were still being traced by experts, he urged Nigerians and foreigners in the country not to panic since health professionals and other stakeholders were working round the clock to address developments.
At the news conference, the first to be held outside Abuja, since the outbreak of the deadly virus, Ehanire stated that the genome breakthrough by a team of Nigerian researchers, led by top scientists of the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Lagos, was the first time the sequencing of the virus had been performed in Africa.
He revealed that the result of the scientific research had been shared with international authorities, especially WHO whose Director-General had extended congratulations to the Nigerian scientists for the achievement.
Ehanire said: “A total of 217 contacts were linked to the index case. Of the 217, 45 travelled out of Nigeria and 172 contacts are presently in Nigeria. Of the 172 contacts currently in Nigeria, 69 are in Lagos, 40 in Ogun and 52 in other states, with 11 in unknown locations.
“Contact tracing and monitoring in respect of the Coronavirus index case, presently receiving treatment in Lagos, has been diligently and conscientiously pursued since the 27th of February, when the case was first diagnosed.
“As you know, 40 persons in Ogun and 22 in Lagos are under isolation and have remained free of any symptoms since.
“Nevertheless, the Federal Ministry of Health, following best practice, decided to test these persons for possible presence of coronavirus in their systems. On 8th March, 2020, scientists confirmed the presence of coronavirus in one of the contacts.”
“Nevertheless, the Federal Ministry of Health, following best practice, decided to test these persons for possible presence of Coronavirus in their systems. On the 8th of March, scientists confirmed the presence of Coronavirus in one of the contacts.
“It is my duty therefore to announce a new case of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria. The newly-confirmed case is an Ogun State contact of the index case, but he has no significant clinical symptoms. This brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nigeria today (yesterday) to two.
“Since the beginning of the outbreak in China and subsequent spread to other countries, one of the important response strategies at the containment stage has been to identify all contacts, ensure their strict isolation and to follow up daily with checks for any symptoms of the disease.
“Following recent experiences from other countries and evidence from newly-published studies on non-symptomatic infections, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), advised that samples should be taken from all contacts of the index case for testing. It is in this process that these two cases were detected.
“I repeat that the newly- confirmed case in Nigeria is not a new importation, but a contact of the index case, who has since been in isolation and was under clinical follow up. He presently does not have any clinical symptoms, is comfortable and in care of Infectious Disease Hospital in Lagos.”
The health minister also stated that recent studies in China showed that increased surveillance, self isolation and in particular contact tracing, have been reducing risk of spread of the virus.
He declared that all other contacts of the index case in Ogun and Lagos states would remain in isolation and tests carried out on those not yet tested, including some in other states.
Ehanire said: “The Federal Ministry of Health as well as Lagos and Ogun state ministries of health assure citizens of our commitment to do all that are needed to control the spread of the outbreak. Since the first case was confirmed in Nigeria on the 27th of February, 2020, the National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in Abuja continues to work closely with Lagos and Ogun states’ EOCs to coordinate response activities.
“I, again strongly, advise against spreading misinformation to cause fear and panic. The Federal Ministry of Health and NCDC will continue to provide prompt and reliable updates and initiate all measures required to protect our people.
“A globally emerging lesson is that some people who contracted COVID-19 appear to experience zero symptoms or only mild illness and will recover. However, other patients develop more severe symptoms, especially if they have other underlying illnesses or are weakened by old age.”