The head of Nigeria’s National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirms the first coronavirus case and says the country is more than capable of dealing with coronavirus as Africa’s most populous nation records its first case.
“Nigeria is ready,” Chikwe Ihekweazu said. “We successfully managed Ebola and we manage outbreaks all the time and are currently managing Lassa fever. We have a strong team that is used to doing this.”
Nigerian officials said the case involved an Italian citizen who entered the country on February 24 on a Turkish Airlines flight from Milan via Istanbul.
Ihekweazu said the Italian patient who arrived in the country with the virus is currently stable and “has mild to moderate symptoms.”
The virus has proliferated around the globe over the past week, emerging in every continent except Antarctica, prompting many governments and businesses to try to stop people travelling or gathering in crowded places.
The Nigerian case is just the third to be confirmed in Africa, something that has puzzled health specialists given the continent’s close ties to China.
According to Ihekweazu, the man was screened on arrival at the airport, however, he presented no symptoms at the time, which is why the temperature scanners at the airport did not detect he was ill.
“Screening is not a fool proof method as the virus has an incubation period of four to five days,” he added.
According to Nigerian officials, the Italian man stayed in a hotel near the airport on the evening of February 24, then continued to his place of work in neighbouring Ogun state. He was treated on February 26 at his company’s medical facility before health practitioners there called government biosecurity officers, who transferred him on February 27 to a containment facility in Yaba, Lagos. He was clinically stable with no serious symptoms, authorities said.
Earlier this week, Algeria confirmed the first case on the continent, another Italian passenger who entered the country on February 17. The patient was placed in quarantine, and under close supervision, according to health authorities in Algeria.