The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, has said Nigeria will not be stopping passengers from China from entering the country once they have been screened at the airport, in the wake of the outbreak of Coronavirus.
He, however, advised Nigerians and non-Nigerians planning to travel to China to suspend their trips, if possible, until further notice.
Mr Ehanire, while briefing journalists after the Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja on Wednesday, said the government is issuing the caution due to the spread of new virus across countries.
He said it has become necessary to issue a travel advisory to Nigerians “as this is one of the ways to prevent the exportation of the disease into the country.”
The minister advised all intending travellers to China to delay their travel plans “except it is extremely essential for them to do that trip”.
He also added that “all persons arriving from China or any country that has a major outbreak, even if they have no symptoms at all, to self isolate, meaning that they stay indoors in their homes for at least two weeks”.
“… and if they develop any symptoms, like cough, catarrh, sneezing, breathing difficulties within this period, to report to the nearest health facility,” he added.
Measures in place
Meanwhile, the minister asked Nigerians to remain calm as the NCDC is coordinating surveillance activities in the country.
He said “we are also advising all airlines to report any case of a passenger falling sick on-board before the plane lands.
“That is a requirement in the agreement. Nigerian Port Health Services, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control are on alert at our airports and other points of entry.”
Mr Ehanire said though the government does not have statistics on the number of Chinese returning to this country, “those returning are free to come into the country to work if they have met with the conditions stated earlier.”
“… but what I can tell you is that for those who traveled and meet the conditions we mentioned can come back to their work.
“I also want to remind you that there are very many Nigerians in China who will be coming home, not only Chinese and other people who have work to do in Nigeria from that area. We are not using your nationality as a criterion, we are using your state of health,” he said.
Public health agencies around the world has been on high alert since the report of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in China.
The outbreak, which started from Wuhan province in December and as at January 28, has spread across all provinces except one in the country.
The disease has also been exported to about 15 countries and there are uncertainties as to how many countries would be reporting confirmed cases of the disease any time soon.
Based on the ferocity of the spread of the disease, most cities in China are already on lockdown and millions of people in the country have been quarantined.
As at last count, the death toll from the disease in China has risen to 106 and more cases are still being reported.
The sporadic spread also made many countries intensify surveillance at the various borders and points of entry, especially airports.
Although there is still lack of adequate information on the pattern of the disease, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed that the disease can be transmitted from person to person.
It was at first thought that the disease could only be transmitted from animals to humans, but new evidence is proving otherwise.
The status of the disease has raised concerns among the public and health workers across the globe as many have been clamouring for WHO to declare the disease a global threat.
WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, on Wednesday said he would be reconvening an emergency committee on Thursday to determine the status of the outbreak.
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