Nigeria: Coronavirus - Senator Laments Nigeria's Lack of Preparedness

27 February 2020

The Deputy Senate Leader, Ajayi Boroffice, has lamented Nigeria's poor preventive measures towards Covid-19 (coronavirus).

The lawmaker, who raised a point of order during plenary on Thursday, narrated his experience on a recent trip to South Africa. He said the country has already adopted more preventive measures compared to Nigeria.

"When we arrived (at) the airport in South Africa, we were not allowed to exit the aircraft for good 30 minutes. Officers of the medical corps of the South African army came into the aircraft and screened everybody before we were allowed to go out.

"When I arrived yesterday at Nnamdi Azikiwe airport, there was no screening. All we were given is a sheet of paper to indicate whether we were sick, whether we have been to one country or the other, how we'll be contacted in (an) emergency. How do you know whether I fall sick after I left the airport. This is very frightening," he said.

Mr Boroffice said countries that have adequate medical facilities are working hard to ensure that they "contain the spread of this pandemic Coronavirus and yet I can't see... from what I saw yesterday, I was afraid."

He warned that something has to be done to ensure that Nigeria does not get to a situation it will not be able to control. He also urged the Ministry of Health to take adequate action and ensure that people are screened before leaving the airport.

In his remark, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, agreed that every country in the world have chosen to ensure that adequate measures are taken to prevent or curtail the virus.

He said while the Federal Ministry of Health and other associated agencies have been doing their best, the best is not good enough and should not take anything for granted.

"We need to take all the necessary measures at our airports, seaports to handle this issue. If someone is coming back from China, he should be quarantined not self-isolation, whether it is two weeks or four weeks, we have to preserve the lives of Nigerians."

He then mandated the Senate Committee on Public Health to engage the ministry of health, again.

"We want to see every possible effort done at our airports and seaports, that people are screened when they come into our country. Every single life matters," he said.

These concerns come barely 24 hours after Algeria confirmed a case of Covid-19, thus, making it the second African country to report this. A case has been confirmed in Egypt earlier this month.

The disease, which originated from China in December, has spread to about 30 countries across the world.

Africa, in the past 14 weeks of the outbreak, has been spared, "but the window seems to be closing," officials said.

The World Health Organisation in preparation for an eventual importation of the disease had listed 13 Africa countries (Egypt, Algeria, South Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Morocco, Sudan, Angola, Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Tunisia) as having the highest 'importation risk'.

These countries have been WHO's top priority for preparedness measures due to their direct links or high volume of travel to China.

The respiratory disease, which has killed over 2000 people, is capable of spreading through human-to-human contact, droplets carried through sneezing and coughing, and germs left on inanimate objects.

Symptoms of the disease can include a sore throat, runny nose, fever or pneumonia and can progress to multiple organ failure or death in some severe cases.

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