Frequently Asked Questions on Coronavirus [13/03/2020]

What is COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are normally transmitted between animals and people. The COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. It was first reported to WHO on the 31st of December, 2019 in Wuhan, China.

What is the source of COVID-19?

Scientists and public health officials are working hard to identify the source of the SARS-CoV-2 which is the virus that causes COVID-19. The initial transmission appeared to be from an animal source, but there has been person-to-person transmission in countries.

Is COVID-19 airborne?

The virus can spread from one person to another, most likely through droplets of saliva or mucus. Studies to date show that the virus is spread through droplets in the air from an infected person coughing, sneezing or talking.

Are countries with hot weather immune to COVID-19?

From the evidence so far, the virus causing COVID-19 can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather.

Are there any cases in Nigeria?

Yes. Nigeria has recorded some confirmed cases of COVID-19. A majority of the cases were imported from high risk countries with community transmission of COVID-19. The Nigerian government agencies has ensured that all confirmed cases are isolated and receive treatment, while intense contact tracing is conducted.

The first case in Nigeria was confirmed on Friday, February 27, 2020 in Lagos in a business Italian traveller who arrived Nigeria on February 25, 2020 and became symptomatic on February 26, 2020.
The second case, confirmed on the 8th of March 2020 in Ogun State, was a contact of the index case. Following supportive care, he tested negative twice for COVID-19 and was discharged on the 13th of March 2020.

What is Nigeria doing to control the spread of the disease in the country?

The Government of Nigeria, through the Federal Ministry of Health, has been strengthening measures to ensure Nigeria is prepared in the event of an outbreak.

The multi-sectoral Coronavirus Preparedness Group led by NCDC has been activated to a national Emergency Operations Centre to coordinate response activities. NCDC is working with State Governments to identify and trace contacts of the confirmed case, in Nigeria.

The Port Health Services Division of the Department of Public Health has heightened screening and surveillance at the ports of entry, particularly for returning travellers with travel history to countries with ongoing transmission in the last 14 days. Residents of the Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Training Programme (NFELTP) are working closely with staff at Port Health Services to screen, review and analyse the forms used for screening at points of entry. This is also for contact tracing when needed.

What does self-isolation mean?

Self-isolation is an important way of controlling the spread of COVID-19. It means that anyone who has been exposed to the virus (e.g. those returning from high risk countries*) should stay at home and in strict isolation from their families for 14 days. This is to limit contact with people, protect yourself and loved ones.

Is there a restriction of flights coming from affected countries?

Presently, the World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend any travel or trade restriction based on the current information available. All travellers to Nigeria will be screened on entry, regardless of country of travel origin. However, additional measures are in place for travellers from countries* with widespread community transmission.

Does Nigeria have the capacity to diagnose COVID-19?

Yes. Currently, five laboratories in Nigeria can diagnose COVID-19; NCDC National Reference Laboratory; Virology Laboratory of Lagos University Teaching Hospital; Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital; Nigerian Institute of Medical Research; and African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases. They are all in the NCDC molecular laboratory network.

Health officials are advised to call 07032864444 for sample transportation and related advice if they have a case that fits the national case definition.

What is the national case definition for COVID-19?

The case definition is continually being reviewed based on new knowledge of the disease. Latest case definition can be found HERE.

If you have a patient that matches the case definition above, please contact NCDC to arrange for sample collection and testing on 07032864444.

Is there a cure for COVID-19?

There is no specific cure yet for COVID-19. However, many of the symptoms can be treated. Treatment is based on the patient’s clinical condition but supportive care for infected persons can be highly effective.

Where are the treatment centres in Nigeria?

In the last one month, NCDC has conducted rapid assessments of potential treatment centres. This assessment focused on identifying gaps and developing plans to rapidly ensure that we are prepared to manage all cases. Treatment centres are located in the five priority states with international airports; Lagos, Rivers, Enugu, Kano and the Federal Capital Territory. Healthcare workers from these treatment centres have been trained on how to manage COVID-19 cases using approved guidelines.

What should I do when I return to Nigeria from a country with a confirmed case(s) of COVID-19?

If you have travelled from any country with ongoing transmission of COVID-19 to Nigeria in the last 14 days, you should stay indoors and avoid contact with other people. Please follow this advice even if you do not have symptoms of the virus.

If you develop symptoms during this time, immediately contact NCDC on 07032864444 or 0800-97000010 (toll-free)

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Breathing difficulties

Unwell people who have recently travelled from any country with ongoing transmission of COVID-19 should immediately contact NCDC on 07032864444 or 0800-97000010 (toll-free).

Am I at risk of catching COVID-19 from a package or products that arrive from countries with a confirmed case(s)?

Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods or packages countries with ongoing transmission. Till date, there is no known case of COVID-19 in Nigeria associated with imported goods.

Should I stop my children from going to school?

No. The current situation in the country does not warrant a shutdown of daily activities. During a pandemic, various measures are instituted depending on how serious the illness is and how easily it is spread from person to person.

At the moment, there is one confirmed case in Nigeria. Therefore, measures such as school closure or closure of large gatherings, are not required. Persons with persistent cough or sneezing should stay home or keep a social distance, but not mix in a crowd.

Is there anything a person can do to avoid becoming infected?

To reduce the risk of infection or spread of COVID-19, members of the public are advised to adhere to the following hand and respiratory hygiene measures:

• Wash your hands regularly with soap under running water and use hand sanitisers frequently

• Cover your mouth and nose properly with tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing and immediately dispose of the tissue in a covered waste bin. After this, wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser

• You may also cough into your elbow if disposable tissue is not available. You are strongly advised not to re-use handkerchiefs

• If you become sick while travelling, you should avoid close contact with other people while you are symptomatic and cover your mouth and nose with a face mask

• Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing

• Healthcare workers are always advised to observe standard infection prevention and control measures when attending to patients and take a travel history

What can businesses do to protect their staff?

Businesses have an important role to play in protecting their employees. Employers are advised to circulate NCDC’s public health advisory on COVID-19 to all staff. Encourage sick employees to stay at home if they are unwell. Ensure routine cleaning of high contact areas such as toilets, door handles, telephones. If staff have travelled to any of the countries with ongoing transmission, they should be advised to self-isolate for 14 days.

*Countries with ongoing transmission as at March 13, 2020: China, Italy, Iran, Japan, Republic of Korea, Spain, Germany and France.

Culled from the website of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control
More information from the website of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research


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