In response to the announcement of coronavirus as a global health threat, the Nigerian government said it has started scaling up its preparedness and response to prevent the importation of the virus into the country.
This is coming less than 24 hours after the World Health Organisation (WHO) had declared the new coronavirus outbreak as a global threat.
The minister of health, Osagie Ehanire, in a press conference in Abuja on Friday said the government has set up an intersectoral committee to assist the government in its prevention and response efforts.
Mr Ehanire said the committee will oversee the national response to prevent importation of coronavirus.
He assured Nigerians that the government was taking adequate measures to address the challenges posed by the virus which first broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
The committee comprises many sectoral agencies including Health, Aviation, Transport, Information and Culture, Police Affairs, Internal Affairs, Agriculture and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Mr Ehanire said the committee was formed because Nigerians are looking up to the government to protect their health.
He said the committee will coordinate the prevention and response activities in preparation for the eventuality of an outbreak in the country.
“The committee was put in place to oversee the country’s coordination in prevention and response to the novel coronavirus in the country in the event of it being imported into the country.”
The committee has been set up to develop an action plan to drive government’s intervention, he said.
Mr Ehanire added that the country would be sharing any relevant information with WHO and other health agencies.
He added that Nigeria will also determine if the existing nation’s laboratories can be used to test samples (of virus) ”or if the samples would be sent to the U.S.”
WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus had on Thursday announced that the novel coronavirus had attained a global health emergency.
This implies that all countries should be on high alert and improve their surveillance.
The disease was first detected in Wuhan, China in December, but as at January 30, the disease had spread to all but one province in the country.
Also, as at the time the disease was declared a public health emergency, the disease has been exported to 18 countries and there are uncertainties as to how many countries would be reporting confirmed cases of the disease any time soon.
Many nations have taken precautionary measures to protect their citizens in the wake of the crisis.
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