The Federal Government says it has strengthened its preparedness and action plan in collaboration with relevant stakeholders to stop the importation of coronavirus into the country.
Dr. Osagie Ehanire, the Minister of Health, said this at the Coronavirus Inter-ministerial Preparedness and Response Meeting with relevant key Ministries, Departments and Agencies on Friday in Abuja.
Ehanire said the meeting became important because the World Health Organisation had declared coronavirus as a global health emergency.
He minister said as part of initial response, the ministry had been working with port authorities to prevent the importation of the virus at the port of entries.
He said: “We must assure Nigerians of our capacity to detect and respond to this emergency and other public health threats; our surveillance at the point of entries involve temperature detectors with scanners and visual observation of passengers.”
In addition, Ehanire said the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control had activated the Coronavirus preparedness group and activated its incidence command system once there is a suspected case in Nigeria.
He said: “NCDC is also working closely with WHO to establish testing capacity in NCDC reference laboratories in Abuja or abroad if need be to handle any suspected case.
“Also, the ministry is strengthening its response plan and from this meeting an action plan is expected to be developed and a committee could be born.”
According to him, as at Friday, more than 970,000 cases have been confirmed, mostly in China, 100 cases around the world and death toll now 213.
He said: “No confirmed cases in Africa; we heard a suspected case (a student in China) in Cote d’Ivoire but the student has tested negative, one in Kenya whose status is unclear.”
On his part, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the world had confidence in Nigeria to be able to handle any emergency based on the Ebola experience in 2014.
Mohammed assured Nigerians of government effort to stop the importation of the virus and advised them to take preventive measures seriously, especially imbibing good hygiene.
Similarly, the Permanent Secretary of the Health Ministry, Abdulaziz Abdullahi, said the Federal Government was willing to deploy resources to stop the importation of the virus into the country like it was done for Ebola in 2014.
Abdullahi said: “Nigeria remains benchmark in the history of public health in general because of curtailing the spread of Ebola; team work actually makes the dream work.
“I believe if we work together, we can achieve it again.”
The permanent secretary said the aim of the meeting was to work together to prevent the importation of the virus into Nigeria, intensify response plan and surveillance in collaboration with the ministry’s partners.
He said: “WHO has declared Coronavirus a global public health emergency, hence there is need to increase surveillance and system activation in the country.”
Abdullahi, however, called on stakeholders to make sure that the importation does not occur, saying: “If it does occur, we must work together to mitigate it.”
Later at a news conference, the minister said the Federal Executive Council had approved N71 million for port authorities to support its surveillance activities.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the no fewer than 15 members from key line Ministries, Departments and Agencies were present at the meeting.
Also development partners and commissioners from five states hosting international airports attended the meeting.