PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY ON COVID-19

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 with 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 pandemic.

 

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.  Nigeria is one of many countries that have commenced the gradual easing of lockdown measures initially instituted at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is to ensure a balance between preserving lives and livelihoods while addressing the socio-economic disruptions caused by the outbreak.

On the 3rd of September 2020, the PTF-COVID-19 announced the commencement of Phase 3 of the Eased Lockdown effective from the 4th of September 2020 with some significant changes to address economic, sociopolitical and health concerns. The third phase of the lockdown is characterised by the following:

 

  • Adjusting the current nationwide curfew to now start from 12am to 4am
  • Restrictions on mass gatherings outside the workplace remain with allowance for gatherings of no more than 50 persons in enclosed spaces (weddings, funerals, etc), provided physical distancing measures and other non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) are enforced
  • Re-opening of the international air space from the 5th of September within established parameters
  • Risk assessment of the level of preparedness of schools with States to commence plans for phased re-opening of educational institutions
  • Limit government meetings to virtual as much as possible while maintaining restrictions on official trips, oversight visits and board meetings until further notice
  • Relaxation on outdoor communal sports and re-opening of recreational parks, event centres and restaurants for outdoor service only. Gyms and cinemas can open to the public at half-capacity, but bars and night clubs shall remain closed until further notice
  • Mandatory use of facemasks in public spaces. Access to government and commercial premises to be denied for persons not wearing facemasks- ‘No mask, no entry. No mask, no service’
  • Elections to proceed in line with strict guidance on conducting safe elections during the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘No Mask, No Voting’ policy to be enforced.

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. The current list of laboratories for the testing of COVID-19 in Nigeria can be here. 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 domestic and international flights have been lifted, operations have commenced with safety advisories in place. 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 release a provisional quarantine protocol for all return travelers to Nigeria, effective from the 18th of September, as detailed below;

  • Passengers must test negative by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) from country of exit 120 hours before departure and preferably within 72 hours pre-boarding. Tests done more than 120 hours before departure are not valid
  • Prior to boarding, passengers are requested to upload their COVID-19 PCR NEGATIVE results on to the national payment portal and have an electronic or hard copy for presentation at the airport
  • All intending passengers are required to register via – http://nitp.ncdc.gov.ng and pay for a repeat (second) PCR test to be done upon arrival in Nigeria
  • Passengers must fill in an online Health Declaration/Self-Reporting Form located on the Nigeria International Travel Portal which must be submitted online or printed for presentation on arrival. Information provided must be verifiable
  • At the time of boarding, all travelers will undergo temperature screening and questioned for COVID-19 symptoms. Passengers with COVID-19 related signs and symptoms will not be allowed to board the flight

 

  • Return passengers must show evidence of payment/appointment for a repeat PCR test, in-country
  • Passengers will be cleared through the Nigeria Immigration System’s Migrants Identification Data Analysis System (MIDAS). Passenger’s biodata page and picture will be forwarded to all COVID-19 PCR Sample Collection Centers to enable proper identification before sample collection
  • Return passengers must proceed on a 7-day self-isolation as per protocol and present at the designated sample collection sites on the 7th day of arrival.
  • Positive cases will be managed based on National Guidelines for COVID-19 treatment.
  • Passengers who test negative after 7 days will end self- isolation on the 8th day

All health workers are strongly advised to maintain a high index of suspicion for COVID-19 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. Businesses are advised to amplify the #TakeResponsibility campaign and ensure compliance to NPIs within the business environment.

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 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 60 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. Wear a face mask/covering when out in public
  2. 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
  3. Maintain a physical distance of at least 2 metres from others in public spaces
  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 others or congregate
  7. Avoid large gatherings of more than 50 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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