The Federal Government said on Friday it had strengthened its preparedness and action plan in collaboration with relevant stakeholders to stop the importation of coronavirus into the country.
Health Minister Osagie Ehanire, speaking at a Coronavirus Inter-ministerial Preparedness and Response Meeting with relevant key Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in Abuja, said as part of initial response, the ministry was actively working with port authorities to prevent the importation of the virus at ports of entry.
His Information and Culture counterpart, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said government would not stop Nigerians from travelling to China or any other country where coronavirus has manifested.
He explained that rather than impose travel ban, there would be travel advisory to help Nigerians wishing to visit China to do so without any encumbrances to their health and wellbeing.
Ehanire at the meeting 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.”
He also said that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had activated the Coronavirus preparedness group and its incidence command system once there is a suspected case in Nigeria.
His words: “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.
As at yesterday, more than 970,000 cases had been confirmed mostly in China, 100 cases around the world and death toll was put at 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 prevention measures seriously, especially imbibing good hygiene.
Similarly, the Permanent Secretary of the health ministry, Mr 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.
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, however, asked stakeholders to mak
e 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 (FEC) had approved N71 million for port authorities to support its surveillance activities