1st July 2020 | PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY TO NIGERIANS ON CORONAVIRUS DISEASE

The novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is a new strain of the virus that has not been previously identified in humans. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). This is an updated advisory on COVID-19 which will be updated frequently to reflect new information and research emerging on the disease and its impact on populations.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) through the national Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has continued to lead the national public health response in Nigeria under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Health and oversight of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF-COVID-19). The NCDC is also working closely with all states of the Federation to support their response activities to the outbreak.

Several measures have been instituted by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the PTF-COVID-19 together with the Federal Ministry of Health to curtail the spread of the disease and protect the health of Nigerians. This includes an initial lockdown of non-essential activities; closure of schools; a ban on international flights etc.  

On the 29th of July 2020, the PTF-COVID-19 announced further extension of phase two of the lockdown and the following remain in place;

  • Safe resumption of domestic flight service as soon as practicable
  • Maintaining the current nationwide curfew (10pm – 4am)
  • Lifting the existing ban on interstate travel, only outside curfew hours
  • Safe reopening of schools only for students in graduating classes (Primary 6, JS3 & SS3) to enable preparation for examinations
  • Federal and State Government offices to maintain current timing of 9am – 2pm as
  • Officers on GL. 14 and above, and essential staff from GL.13 and below are to continue to report for duty; and
  • Mandatory use of non-medical facemasks in public spaces with access to government and commercial premises to be denied for persons not wearing facemasks: ‘No mask, no entry. No mask, no service’
  • Maintaining the restrictions on mass gatherings and sporting activities
  • Maintaining the mandatory provision of handwashing facilities/sanitisers and extensive temperature checks in all public spaces
  • Maintaining the prohibition of gathering of more than twenty (20) persons outside of a workplace

The NCDC continues to expand laboratories for the testing of COVID-19 and has commenced the use of GeneXpert across the country to scale-up testing. Through the #TakeResponsibility campaign by the NCDC, Nigerians and residents in the country are urged to take greater individual and collective responsibility in preventing and controlling the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria. All resources, guidelines and real-time updates on COVID-19 in Nigeria can be found on https://covid19.ncdc.gov.ng/.

While the ban on international flights remains, the Federal Government of Nigeria has announced that there will be a gradual opening of domestic flights with safety advisories in place as soon as practicable. The NCDC continues to work with the Port Health Services, Nigeria Customs Service and Nigeria Immigration Service to ensure enhanced surveillance at all points of entry.

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has revised the quarantine protocol for all return travelers to Nigeria, effective from the 8th of June, as detailed below;

  • All returning travelers to Nigeria must have tested NEGATIVE for COVID-19 through Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing in country of departure. This MUST be within 2 weeks before departure and preferably not less than 5 days pre-boarding
  • On board, passengers are required to correctly fill in the Health Declaration/Self-Reporting Form & the Sample Collection Time Allocation Form with verifiable information
  • Passengers who have arrived in Nigeria must self-isolate for 14 days and remain in the city/state where the point of entry is located (i.e. Lagos or Abuja) throughout the duration of self-isolation
  • Passengers must provide their correct address and phone number before exiting the airport. They must comply with self-isolation/quarantine guidelines and ensure that they can be reached during the period
  • Passengers not resident in Lagos or Abuja, must arrange for accommodation at their own cost (please note that the Federal Government will not be responsible for providing accommodation nor transportation to the place of abode)
  • Passengers will be cleared through the Nigeria Immigration System’s Migrants Identification Data Analysis System (MIDAS) and their passports retained until after successful completion of the 14 days self-isolation (this why it is critical that correct contact information is provided)
  • All passengers will be tested within 72 hours of arrival based on appointment at a sample collection centre located in Lagos or Abuja for a repeat COVID-19 PCR test
  • Persons who are unable to remain in Lagos or Abuja throughout the period of self-quarantine may return to their states of residence ONLY after:

 

(a) They have had their samples collected and are NEGATIVE for COVID-19; and

(b) They have provided public health officials with their full and correct address and phone number where they can be reached

  • Persons who have completed the 14 days of self-isolation/quarantine will undergo an exit interview. Their details will be forwarded to the Nigeria Immigration Service for release of their passports. Alternative arrangements can be made to collect passports via special delivery e.g. DHL

At the seaports, ships arriving are subjected to mandatory health screening and clearance by the Port Health Services. This particularly applies to ships that have been at sea for less than 14 days and/or that have crew members who are ill.

All health workers are strongly advised to maintain a high index of suspicion for COVID-19; always observe standard infection prevention and control measures when attending to patients; and take detailed information. The NCDC has published several guidelines including infection prevention control and case management of COVID-19. These can be accessed via https://covid19.ncdc.gov.ng/guideline/

The NCDC has published a guideline for employers and businesses in Nigeria however, the agency is working with various industries to develop sector specific guidelines as the financial sector and manufacturing industry is fully open while the informal sector will have a phased opening.

If you are showing known COVID-19 symptoms such as such as cough, fever, and difficulty in breathing etc.,  you must immediately call your state helpline. They will have the most up to date and state-specific information on COVID-I9 including sample collection sites.

Vulnerable groups i.e. people over the age of 50 and/or people with pre-existing medical conditions should avoid non-essential outings and visitors. Where possible, have a friend or family member bring you supplies. This is critical as if infected with the virus, vulnerable persons may have severe complications that could be fatal. See NCDC advisory for vulnerable groups here.

To reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19, members of the public are advised to adhere to the following measures:

  1. Wash your hands frequently with soap under running water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based sanitiser if water is not available
  2. Maintain physical distance of at least 2 metres from others in public spaces
  3. Wear a non-medical face mask/covering when leaving the house
  4. Cover your mouth and nose properly with a tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing. Dispose of the tissue properly immediately after use. You may also cough into your elbow if a tissue is not available
  5. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness
  6. Stay home if you feel unwell until you recover. Do not mingle with people or congregate
  7. Avoid large gatherings of more than 20 persons and gatherings where physical distancing measures are not put in place

COVID-19 appears to cause mild to severe respiratory symptoms like fever, cough and difficulty in breathing. There is no specific cure yet for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials to test various potential antivirals. Current management of cases aims to relieve the symptoms while the body’s immune system fights the illness.

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