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Health expert faults Lagos government over advisory on coronavirus

In a bid to tackle future disease outbreaks in the country, the Lagos State biosafety laboratory has began operations, the state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, has said.

A health expert has faulted an advisory given by the Lagos State commissioner for health which urged Nigerians with symptoms of coronavirus to walk into the state hospitals for treatment saying it would only expose the country to harm.

The U.S.-based expert, Olubayo Okelana, reacting to the advisory video done by the commissioner, Akin Abayomi, said one of the measures stated for prevention of the disease is faulty as it would only expose more people to risk of contracting the disease.

Nigeria in preparation against the importation and spread of 2019-nCoV had released an advisory educating Nigerians on the disease and symptoms to look out for.

Mr Abayomi, in the advisory video had listed out the symptoms of the 2019-nCoV and told Lagosians that “if you feel that you are experiencing any of the symptoms or have had a contact either by virtue of travel to South-east Asia or you have come in contact with people that have come in from South East Asia, we will like you to present yourself at one of our general hospitals.”

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control had also stated in one of its releases on the disease “that unwell people who are immunocompromised and have recently travelled to China should be examined promptly by their physician, regardless of the type of illness they have.”

However, Mr Okelana cautioned against free movement of such people saying it would only lead to devastating epidemic outcomes in and around Nigeria.

Mr Okelana, while appreciating the commissioner for his hard work and presentation, said he was “a little alarmed at his request that suspected patients should show up at the hospitals.”

He said his concern is multi folded.

“The hospitals will be overwhelmed by non-nCoV 2019 mild illnesses and resources will be overloaded. Other patients with different illnesses will suffer if there happens to be a positive case amongst the multitude that show up for testing.

“This will lead to a scenario for widespread contagion and will invariably contribute to a pandemic,” he said.

Mr Okelana further said the instruction is contrary to recommendations from the WHO and CDC.

“I am sure Mr Abayomi misspoke when he invited patients to show up at the hospital but I think he will have to clarify and recommend home quarantine and infectious disease protocols instead.

Mr Okelana said coronavirus is a self limited illness and there is currently no known cure and that the only management is ‘supportive.’

He said most infected patients will be okay at home “as long as they get some supportive care.”

He, however, said that the “seriously ill patients” are those who need to be transported using infection control methods to designated hospitals.

“Nigeria is being set up for a mass explosion of the illness and perhaps the U.S. government should expand the new Nigerian immigration ban to all travelers, be they visitors, tourists or green card holders from Nigeria because of our lack of understanding and preparedness.

“We should remember the incredible Stella Adadevoh and build on her heroic excellence. She understood management of contagious diseases and quarantined the pivotal patient, Patrick Sawyer. She shut down any contact beyond those already exposed to him and defied the U.S. embassy when asked to release him. She insisted he could only be let go under strict infectious disease control guidelines including the use of Personal Exposure Protection and a fumigation equipped ambulance. She gave up her life for her country,” he said.

The world has been battling a new coronavirus which has claimed the lives of 564 people since it was first detected in Wuhan, five weeks ago.

The SARs like disease was declared a public health emergency of international concern in the last week of January by WHO. This was due to the continual spread of the disease across countries and the lack of understanding by on its patterns of transmission.

Based on these facts, all countries were advised to heighten health security measures in preparation for any eventuality as cases could be imported into any country.

Nigeria, as part of its preparatory efforts, had issued an advisory through NCDC.

Based on the advisory notes, the one of the advice similar to what Mr Abayomi had said, was that Nigerians should avoid self-education and report to the nearest health facility when you experience any of the symptoms.

Meanwhile, symptoms include respiratory illnessesuchs as coughing and sneezing.

NCDC advised people who have travelled from Wuhan or any other province in China to Nigeria to stay indoors and avoid contact with other people for 14 days.

“Please follow this advice even if you do not have symptoms of the virus,” it said.

Travellers from China who show no symptoms on arrival, but who have a fever and cough within 14 days of arrival in Nigeria, are to contact NCDC on 0800-970000-10

It also advised that any person that has returned from China within the last 14 days and has symptoms and those who have visited a healthcare facility where hospital-associated 2019-nCoV infections have been reported, should also call the designated numbers.

Meanwhile, NCDC said it is preparing treatment and isolation facilities in the Federal Capital Territory and seven other priority states in Nigeria.

They are: Lagos, Akwa-Ibom, Rivers, Enugu, Delta, Cross River, and Kano states.

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