Coronavirus: China stops issuance of visa to Nigerians

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The Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Nigeria, Mr Zhou Pingjian, on Monday, said the embassy had stopped issuance of visas for now.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that he also advised Nigerians planning to travel to China to suspend their plans pending when the spread of the virus would be contained.

He also reiterated China’s commitment to safeguarding the lives of Nigerians and other nationals living in that country.

The ambassador stated this while briefing newsmen on the coronavirus outbreak in his country and the measures put in place to contain the scourge.

He said China had taken the most comprehensive, rigorous containment, and mitigation measures beyond the requirements of international health regulations.

He said by such measures China was not only protecting the health of its people but also that of the people around the world.

According to Zhou, checking the spread of the coronavirus is a common concern of the international community.

“Life comes first. The Chinese government is committed to safeguarding the lives and health of the Chinese people.

“We will, in a responsible manner, safeguard the life of every foreign national in China and address their legitimate concerns in a timely manner.

“We will continue to strengthen communication and coordination with the international community and work hand in hand for the epidemic prevention and control,” he said.

He also advised other countries to adopt a responsible attitude, work together to combat the virus, and avoid overreaction that might result in more negative spillover effects.

He added that a total of 60 Nigerians were living in Wuhan city where the virus broke out from, adding that no Nigerian in China had been infected.

Zhou said that the authorities were maintaining regular communication with them in case of any need for assistance.

The envoy explained that as of 7am Nigerian time (on Monday), the total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus had increased to 17,205.

“And 21,558 people were suspected of being infected in the Chinese mainland according to China’s National Health Commission.

“A total number of 361 people have died of the disease while 475 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery.

He said that an increase in the number of deaths was recorded because of the newness of the virus, which had been subjected to research.

He added that scientists were still working hard to come up with the drug for the treatment of the disease.

According to the ambassador, China has built a nationwide prevention and control system with special focus on Wuhan and Hubei.

He said that a 1000-bed makeshift hospital was built in Wuhan within nine days in Wuhan to contain the virus.

Zhou expressed confidence that the country’s economy and trade cooperation with the world would remain strong.

He expressed appreciation to the Nigerian government for its show of support to the people of China.

Lagos inaugurates command system, to start ‘supervised quarantine’

In a bid to prevent an outbreak of coronavirus, the Lagos State Government on Monday launched an Incident Command System.

The Commissioner of Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, however said no suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus has been found in Lagos, warning residents against rumour on public health and safety.

 The Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, while launching the Incident Command System said the measure was not to stigmatise citizens of any country but a precautionary one taken in the interest of the people.

 The command system will have the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, as the Incident Commander while the Commissioner for Health will serve as the Deputy Incident Commander.

 The governor noted that relevant health professionals, in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Health, would be deployed to the Lagos international airport for a higher level of monitoring.

 The governor assured residents that government and non-governmental organisations would continue to escalate communication and create public awareness.

He said, “What we have started to do is to have what we call a heightened state concern on coronavirus. We are not declaring an emergency in any form but creating a heightened state concern.

 “Also, the commissioner, through his ministry will identify relevant health professionals that will, in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Health, be deployed in our international airport in Lagos where we will see higher level of monitoring as well as organised level of incident reporting layout.”

Sanwo-Olu said although the team expects people to be self-quarantined, he stressed that the state would carry out a supervised quarantine where details about immigrants would be taken at the point of entry. He added that the team would do daily follow-up through phone calls to identify individuals for a period of two weeks.

According to the governor, the command will be in operation for the period of time the risk lasts. He assured the residents that adequate preparation had been carried out to tackle the virus.

“This command will go on until when we believe and we have been given assurance that we have a stable and controlled environment; but in the meantime, these exercises are going to be put in place and we are going to start things immediately.

“I also want to mention that we have started providing both human and material logistics required for this exercise.

“All our major general hospitals are also being prepared in the event of an outpour into any of them. The hospitals on the mainland have tents coming up and extensive resources are being put in that particular health facility for them to be on standby in case of any suspected or identified case.”

The Deputy Governor, Dr Obafemi Hamzat; the Consul General of People’s Republic of China, Chu Moaming; and the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Folashade Jaji, were among the dignitaries at the event.

NCDC plans isolation centres for FCT, seven states

The National Centre for Disease Control said on Monday isolation facilities would be sited in the Federal Capital Territory and seven states across the country.

 The World Health Organisation had on Thursday declared the coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

Coronavirus was first reported in Wuhan, China but the virus has since spread to other countries in the Asian region, the United Kingdom and the United States with some countries placing travelling restriction on travellers from China. The US said it would quarantine its citizens, who returned from Asian countries.

Nigeria has yet to have any case of the virus but the Federal Government through the Ministry of Health and the NCDC is making preparation against possible transmission of the virus to Nigeria.

A statement on the centre’s website reads, “The NCDC is currently preparing treatment and isolation facilities in the Federal Capital Territory and seven other priority states in Nigeria. They are Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Enugu, Delta, Cross River, and Kano states.

On the risk of the virus coming to Nigeria, the NCDC said, “The risk assessment conducted by the WHO places the country at a high risk, meaning that there is a high chance of an infected person (traveller) coming into Nigeria. Till date, there is no confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in Nigeria.

“The Nigerian government is closely monitoring the ongoing novel coronavirus 2019 outbreak which originated in Wuhan, China. A multi-sectoral Coronavirus Preparedness Group has been established at the NCDC. The Coronavirus Preparedness Group meets daily to carry out regular epidemic intelligence gathering.

“The Port Health Services Division of the Department of Public Health has heightened screening at the ports of entry, especially for travellers with a travel history to China. The NCDC has established a standard case definition for novel coronavirus and circulated it to state Ministries of Health, health facilities and all relevant stakeholders to guide detection and response.”

The centre also reiterated that the National Reference Laboratory had the capacity to diagnose the virus and asked health officials to call 07032864444 for sample transport and related advice if they had a case that corresponded with the case-definition.

It also said that although the World Health Organisation had not placed any travel or trade restriction on China, it was advisable that only essential travels should be made at this period of the outbreak.

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