Virus

  • What should you be using: the Shield or the Mask?

    Chances are that you’ve come across these face shields and mistook them for a Special Weapons and Tactics [SWAT] officer. Fear not, they are just some of the outcomes of this pandemic. And it seems the public is even taking more to face shields, than face masks, for preventing the novel virus. But how well would a face shield protect and offer you a sufficient cover, and do you even need it?

    Enter scene, face shield

    The (surgical) face shield is a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) designed to protect against fluid splashes to the face during medical procedures that may be infectious. In other areas such as in engineering works, face shields protect against particles such as metal bits that fly off during welding processes, for instance. 

    Similarly, firefighters, scientists and law enforcement utilise diverse variations of face shields. In general, face shields are classified based on their ability to withstand impacts. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) ranks face shields based on their impact capabilities (low or high impact shields). The European (EN 166) and Canadian (CSA) Standards Organisations also use similar criteria. 

    In manufacture, the face shields are commonly made from polycarbonate and cellulose acetate. And the material choice is premised on the translucent/transparent nature of these plastics as well as their durable and non-reactive properties. 

    What then is the difference between the face shield & the face mask?

    In general, face shields protect against substances coming into contact with the face; in contrast, face masks filter the air you breathe in or breathe out. The manufacture or material choice for face shields were not premised on filtration, but protection against impact. 

    Functionality vs aesthetic and comfort

    Face shields like the ones in this picture are rather fashionable & only have the effect of perhaps preventing one from touching their mouth, nose or eyes to protect against covid-19

    At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, there was a shortage of PPE supply to healthcare workers, face shields and face masks mostly. Furthermore, scientists knew little about the transmission of the virus. Hence, fears fueled by misinformation made people improvise on presumed rational practices. Regardless, studies, like this finding from the lancet, have shown that face masks protect people against spreading or getting infected with the coronavirus. In contrast, studies on face shields show that, in fact, they offer no protection against the virus – the vital difference being their functionality. While the former acts as a filter, the other works as a protection against direct impact to the face. Notwithstanding, the function of face shields in preventing one from touching their face is undeniable.  Regardless of the growing concern of the coronavirus transmission through circulating air in closed/poorly ventilated areas, there is still strong support, through studies, on the very minimal transmission of the novel virus between infected and healthy parties utilising facemasks.

    Conclusion

    Health authorities have also repeated the need to wear a mask alone or with a face shield if one longs for more security. The increasing showboating with respect to rising demands for shields have merely spiked the price of PPEs, draining much-needed resources away from health workers.

    Health authorities like the Nigeria Federal Ministry of Health & Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) discourage the use of face shields alone if they must be used.

    So always wear a face mask, and not a face shield!

  • What role do “guesswork and logic” play in battling COVID-19?

    Several videos and sites, including the Nigerian Immigration Service, suggest wearing the coloured part of the surgical mask on your nose, as opposed to the orthodox approach. This method is perceived to prevent the breathing in of harmful particles.

    The coloured part of a mask is not designed to face your nose; this means it could make breathing through the cover even more uncomfortable. Your face mask, the surgical mask, should always be worn with the coloured part out. You can see a demonstration here.

    Full Text

    The controversy over what side of the surgical face mask should face outward began long before the coronavirus pandemic. Back then, it was about this photo showing that masks should be worn with the coloured side in and the non-coloured side out. It seems the message got modified with the pandemic. Now, several actors claim that people should wear the shaded portion of the surgical face mask, facing inward. It further adds that wearing the white side outwards is necessary for people who are not sick.

    Facebook posts amid the global lockdown have further fuelled this method of wearing face masks.

    We also found an advisory on the Nigerian Immigration Service website, pointing out that the right way for healthy persons to wear a face mask is for the coloured side to face the wearer’s nose. But is this the right way to wear your surgical mask?

    Credit: Nigeria Immigration Service

    Surgical Mask, what is it?

    Firstly, while surgical masks are essential in clinical situations, they do not provide wholesome protection from viruses. Health practitioners mostly used them during surgical procedures, to prevent wound contamination or prevent the spread of respiratory infections generally between staff and patients.

    Credit: smartairfilters.com

    In design, these masks follow standards; separate countries have their own rules, such as the NIOSH in the USA, the EU standard, Chinese, etc. The specific filtration capacity of the mask is the reason for these standards. Going by this, there are two types of surgical masks.

    The first is the thinner single-use surgical mask (China standard YY/T0969); the second, the standard surgical mask (China standard YY0469) used in surgical theatres. Both vary in their functions; while the single-use surgical mask can only trap particles 3.0micron and above, the standard surgical mask can trap up to 30% of particles 1.0micron. 

    Necessity is indeed the mother of invention

    Simply put, the single-use surgical mask can trap dust or larger particles, while the standard surgical mask can trap bacteria and individual virus particles. Furthermore, you would be correct to speculate that Asia’s storied history with air pollution necessitated the design of the second type. In truth, this standard of face covers is not present in other countries’ categorisations. 

    In manufacture, the surgical mask consists of three layers of industrially-made fabric. The usually coloured layer (mostly coloured in green or blue)  is oily and non-absorbent, and functions to deter fluids and particles from sticking to it. The inner perforated layer traps particles, and the third (generally non-coloured) layer is more absorbent, to hold down moisture. 

    Credit: Centre for Health Protection, Hong Kong

    How does this design help with Infection Prevention? 

    It is important to remember that the intent of the surgical mask- to control infection in the hospital setting; its purpose is not just to prevent the spread of viruses, like the coronavirus. So, the non-coloured outer part is to help trap moisture and droplets such as those of a sneeze from the wearer while the inner layer is to trap bacteria and distinct virus particles, and the coloured slippery part helps to prevent fluid splashes and particles from sticking to the mask. In this manner, theatre staff and particularly the surgeon, do not infect patients or contaminate their surgical wounds. In essence, the cover’s design is to prevent the wearer from passing on the infection. It is perhaps this revelation that has precipitated most confusion around the subject, especially during this pandemic. 

    Best practices and civic responsibility

    In hospital settings, doctors and other practitioners used the surgical when treating patients with highly infectious respiratory diseases such as tuberculosis to prevent these patients from passing on such infections to their caregivers. In this case, the sick person puts on the mask and the caregiver too.

    However, over the years, Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, and China have popularised the wearing of surgical masks. People with the flu reportedly use these covers during the flu season to curb the transfer of the common cold; a responsible act, one might add. 

    How does the Surgical Mask prevent Coronavirus spread? Don’t pass it on!

    Primarily, the purpose of the surgical mask is to keep the wearer from transmitting infectious droplets to other persons. We also established that the non-coloured inner layer acts as a moisture absorbent. So, the misguided notion reasons that the practice of wearing the non-coloured inner part of the mask facing out ought to grant the wearer protection from breathing in infectious particles, as the absorbent layer would trap said particles. This hypothesis, however, is wrong because the surgical mask is not a respirator. It does not act as a single valve, allowing particles to flow in one direction. Respirators have a one-way valve, meaning they only allow filtered airflow into the mask. If the surgical mask had this one-way valve that oozed airflow out of the wearer, reversing it to filter breathed-in air would then make sense. But this is not the case. Interestingly, the one-way valve of respirators means the wearer can breathe out anything, including droplets, while the inner layer of the surgical mask can hold droplets from the wearer.

    The reason for advising its use is that if we all wear a mask, the surgical mask, then everyone gets to keep their infection to themselves, not passing it on to the next person(s). It is in a way following the Japanese ethics of wearing a mask during a flu season- don’t pass it on!

  • Do we have a novel STD (coronavirus) on our hands?

    This year has arguably been the most surprising, not the least because of the coronavirus pandemic, amongst other threats the human race has been experiencing.  And each day seems to be a new learning experience with this virus. Recently, a news report on a study that tested the semen of some men recovering from coronavirus shows that the virus supposedly remains in semen up to 16 days after recovery. 

    This discovery may be a game-changer as well as a head-scratcher! Its implications would undoubtedly alter the sexual practice of couples and other sexually active men and women.  Suffice to say, adequate knowledge on the status of COVID-19 as a possible source of sexually transmitted infection (STI) is still unclear; it beckons for more study.

    Viruses and Sexual Transmission

    A virus is a small (unseen to the naked eye) infectious agent that is capable of infecting cells in animals, plants, and bacteria. The kicker, though, is while these organisms are technically living, their life-support is dependent on others. Hence, they have to infect other cells to continue living. Now, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections (bacteria, fungi, viruses or parasites) contracted through sexual activity such as vaginal intercourse, oral sex, and anal sex. Existence of STIs and STDs is not new.  However, because we do not know the full range of infectious agents, we learn of new ones and how badly they affect us from time to time.

    But such new discoveries are most true of viruses, such as Zika, Ebola, and Marburg, for example. Interestingly, scientists found these infections persist in the semen of survivors for up to 16 days after recovery.  

    How Infectious Are these Viruses in Semen?

    So far 27 viruses have been identified in human semen. But, finding a virus in semen does not necessarily make it a sexually transmitted infection. Before this proclamation, a doctor would need to ascertain how long the virus can remain viable within the seminal fluid. Determining if the infected patient’s partner is vulnerable is just as important. The spread or quantity of the virus is usually a good indicator for ascertaining this. A doctor would also need to diagnose the severity of a virus; is it acute as in the case of Ebola and Zika virus or latent as in HIV or cytomegalovirus? 

    First, determining these factors is imperative. Understanding the timeline of infection, possible effects to the couple’s reproductive tracts and susceptibility of a sexual partner is also significant in the doctor’s examination. These extrapolations also help determine the potential impact on an unborn baby, facilitating informed decision making; such as whether, for instance, Zika virus does infect neonates in the womb.

    Moreover, one study explained how viruses could remain in semen without being able to infect a partner. Hence, the virus needs to be present and in sufficient quantity to cause an infection. In addition, new technological methods of diagnosing viral infections in body fluids ensure quick prognosis, drawing a full map of said viral footprint; i.e. the presence or disappearance of the virus. One of such advancements is the polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

    What Would Change with Coronavirus in Semen?

    Identifying a virus in semen has a lot of public health implications. Health advisories to couples include safe sex practices that would not put the other partner at risk. For instance, in the case of Zika virus, doctors advised couples to use a condom for asymptomatic men for eight weeks; this was of course if they’d returned from an area with ongoing local Zika virus transmission. For symptomatic men, the advice was to use it for six months after the onset of symptoms; this was also the case for male survivors of Ebola, per the WHO’s recommendation. 

    With coronavirus, similar health advice would be the way to go. Couples should either use condoms or practise sexual abstinence for a certain period after detection of the virus in the semen. But such advice would be after medical practitioners have determined the infectivity of the sperm. But this might not also be solely related to sexual activity. The ability of the virus to infect unborn babies and perhaps even cause congenital disabilities would also have to be known for proper advice to couples intending to get pregnant as well.

    Conclusion

    Many viruses are sexually transmitted, with a significant number also causing known STIs. As a new infectious agent and one creating a ravaging pandemic at the moment, knowing that the coronavirus can persist in the semen poses a considerable risk as a new mode of transmission. Safe sexual practices such as the use of a male or female condom, abstinence, avoiding acts involving body cutting during sexual activity, etc., at all times is a wise decision until we learn much more about this virus. Given the precedents of Zika and ebola as sources of STIs and STDs, the mere discovery of covid-19 in the semen is enough to call for caution.

  • Will touching Naira notes increase the risk of Coronavirus?

    A viral video identifies banknotes as the reason for the increase in coronavirus cases in the country.

    While we acknowledge the concerns of the claim-sources and appreciate their efforts to encourage the hand-washing habit, stating that banknotes are the reasons for the spread of the coronavirus is not factual as there is no scientific evidence or credible reportage to support the claim.

    Full Text

    A viral video circulating on WhatsApp, 29th of April, suggests that banknotes are the reasons behind the spread of the novel coronavirus in Nigeria. The speaker pointed out that despite the measures taken to tame the pandemic, the number of confirmed cases does not cease to rise. He, therefore, relates the rise in infections to Naira notes, from where the virus spreads to handlers of the paper money. 

    Similarly, on 30th of April, a message circulating on WhatsApp informs readers about how naira notes put them at risk of contracting the new coronavirus despite obeying the lockdown directives. The Broadcast Message – BC – draws attention to the fact that money travels a lot and establishes the probability of possible contamination as it moves from one hand to another across different locations. Hence, it encourages readers to wash their hands after every contact with a currency.

    The President of Nigeria has placed the nation on lockdown for over a month. Although there has been social media and physical rebellion against the move, many Nigerians are still obeying the necessary confinement put in place to prevent a rapid spread of COVID-19. As Nigerians keep safe indoors, should they worry about the naira notes in their possessions?

    Banks Notes and the Novel Coronavirus

    Speculations abound that physical transactions contribute to the spread of the new coronavirus, which has become a threat to the young and old as it travels around the globe. 

    There have been different thoughts about how the virus spreads, one of which is the one that says physical currencies aid its transmission. Consequently, various institutions have suggested solutions. Additionally, countries like China and Korea reportedly sterilised cash to mitigate the spread.

    Verification   

    While studies have shown that banknotes may transmit disease, there’s no conclusive scientific study that suggests that COVID-19 may be spread through contaminated currency notes.

    Additionally, many have raised the possibilities of transmitting COVID-19 through physical currencies and advised the use of contactless technologies for payments. The World Health Organization has however stated that:

    “it has not issued any warnings or statements about the use of cash. Instead, it reiterated that you should wash your hands, including after handling money, especially if you’re eating or touching food”

    Recall that coronaviruses remain viable on surfaces for hours, even days, depending on the type of surface and that merely touching an infected surface does not guarantee infection. The contaminated hands have to come in contact with the eyes, nose or mouth before one can be infected. Hence, the rationale to always wash and disinfect the hands, and to always try as much as possible not to touch those parts of the body.

    Conclusion

    While we acknowledge the concerns of the claim-sources and appreciate their efforts to encourage the hand-washing habit, stating that banknotes are the reasons for the spread of the coronavirus is not factual as there is no scientific evidence or credible reportage to support the claim.

    Moreover, experts have not established how long the new coronavirus can survive on banknotes, nor informed of its transfer potential. Therefore, merely touching currency notes does not guarantee transmission, especially if one maintains proper hygiene after handling–thorough, hand-washing, and refraining from touching the face.

  • Was President Buhari Smug Over the Two-Week Extension to the Lockdown?

    A blog post headlined that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria said Nigerians should appreciate him for the two-week lockdown extension.

    During his speech, the President did not make such a statement; this is a clear illustration of a falsified headline purposely meant to catch the reader’s attention.

    Full text

    Monday, April 13 marked the end of the two weeks lockdown initiated by the Federal government, or so we thought. As the countdown slowly came to a halt, everyone waited anxiously for a directive from the presidency; although all indications pointed to a possible extension. And just yesterday, the suspense was over. The administration announced another two weeks of self-isolation for the citizenry. 

    Shortly after President Buhari’s nationwide address on the 13th of April 2020, a blog site- Oyinbonaija- decided to add fuel to the fire of uncertain emotions embodied by Nigerians. The website’s publication which already garnered over 469 views suggests that President Muhammadu Buhari urged Nigerians to appreciate him for the extension. 

    But is this really the case? Did the President make such a comment while giving his speech?

    Verification

    A proper look at the publication revealed that the only contradicting statement of the publication was the headline. The main text was starkly different from the headline.

    A section of the President’s speech read:

    “With this in mind and having carefully considered the briefings and Report from the Presidential Task Force and the various options offered, it has become necessary to extend the current restriction of movement in Lagos and Ogun States as well as the FCT for another 14 days effective from 11:59 pm on Monday, 13th of April, 2020. I am therefore once again asking you all to work with (the) Government in this fight”. 

    However, at no point in time did the President say that Nigerians should appreciate him for the lockdown, at least not in his speech.

    Sensational headlines

    Oyinbonaija in its publication, like many other misleading pieces, leverages emotions via sensational headlines for clicks and views. This tactic, however, is not novel and not in the least imperceptible.

    Consequently, Dubawa still urges readers to be sceptical of any piece of information they come across. Additionally,  readers should ensure they go through the main text and not only the headline. This will give the reader the idea the source of the message is trying to pass.

    And as a reminder, sensational headlines are a pointer that the news might be fake. At the very least, interrogate the piece with a simple google search; better still, reach out to us.

    Conclusion

    The President did not say in his speech that Nigerians should appreciate him for extending the lockdown by two weeks. Sites such as these leverage emotions via clickbait titles for notoriety. 

  • Would-be Runaway Driver Never Threatened to Spread COVID-19

    WhatsApp message suggested that the driver who drove the Italian man to Ogun demands 100 Million or he spreads the virus.

    We conducted a reverse image search which revealed a 2018 publication by Buzz Feed News, which had nothing to do with coronavirus. More so, African Independence Television, the media organisation issued a disclaimer distancing itself from the claim which featured their logo. 

    Full Text

    Nigeria became the third African country with the case of coronavirus after it confirmed the virus on February 27. The epidemic came in through an Italian host who arrived in the country for a business visit. The Italian has since been quarantined and placed under treatment. Authorities further tracked down and put people he had contact with under supervised isolation.

    Things seemed fine, that was until WhatsApp group chats alerted us to the would-be ransom by patient zero’s driver. The messages revealed that the driver that took the Italian to Ogun escaped quarantine. Next, he allegedly demanded 100 million from the government and threatened to spread the virus if they decline.

    The viral screenshot attributed the news to a Facebook page – AIT Nigeria News – which has a similar logo with Nigerian broadcasting station, African Independent Television.

    Verification

    Firstly, Dubawa performed a reverse image search on the image conveyed in the screenshot. The research brought forth an article from BuzzFeedNews, published in 2018. The publication with the headline: “Inside The Country Where You Can Buy A Black Man For $400” revealed the thriving case of slavery in Libya and the plight of a Blackman seeking greener pasture in Europe; it had nothing to do with coronavirus.

    Excerpt from BuzzFeed News

    Additionally, the alleged driver debunked the claims in a video. He retorted how he’d been in Benin and hadn’t been to Lagos in 2 years; he implores Nigerians to stop spreading rumours of him hosting the viral infection.

    Furthermore, the WhatsApp picture-message addressed the driver as Adewale Isaac, contrary to what we found in his video where he called himself Ikuenobi Jude. BuzzFeed’s 2018 publication also corroborates the name mentioned in the video.

    Finally, the nail in the proverbial coffin was AIT’s disclaimer. In a circular issued, the media organisation distanced itself from the viral message which featured the platform’s logo.

    It is also worth noting other verification platforms such as the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) rated this claim false. 

  • And Another One, What Did Obasanjo Say About Coronavirus?

    Viral picture message suggests Obasanjo said that there is no coronavirus in Nigeria and that the minister of health lied. 

    President Obasanjo’s spokesperson, Kehinde Akinyemi refuted allegations attributed to Baba; a moniker often used to describe the former head of state. Additionally, Dubawa initiated a google reverse image search, which revealed that the “Fox News Writer” (the source) used the image out of context. 

    Full Text

    News of this viral statement attributed to the former Nigeria president has been trending on all media platforms. Particularly yesterday, March 4, Dubawa received this screenshot from several users on WhatsApp; with many questioning its authenticity. The circular elicited several reactions across social media

    Verification

    Firstly, Dubawa reached out to Olujonwon Obasanjo (his son) via a mutual contact, to ascertain the legitimacy of the claim. We, however, got no response; we also sent a text message to him and await a response.

    Next, Dubawa put a call through to Kehinde Akinyemi, his spokesperson who was initially not forthcoming with the team. Notwithstanding, through the aid of a Premium Times correspondent, we were able to reach him.

    “any statement that is attributed to Baba but did not include when and where he made it should be disregarded. Baba didn’t say it and couldn’t have said it”

    Kehinde Akinyemi

    It would be TV news, not blog news

    Customary with the Former head of state, his known method of information dissemination, especially on matters of national importance, is through letter writing. Let’s assume it was an interview, what station broadcasted it? Would it not have made the 9’oclock news? These unanswered questions put a hole in this story’s plot. 

    Beyond words, images don’t lie.

    As it turns out, Fox News Writer published another article attributed to the former head of state in February, using the same image; this casts a cloud of scepticism on the claim’s authenticity. More so, to say the article was stingy with details would be an understatement. The publication failed to cover the essential 5 Ws and H; only saying “more details soon”. And this was since March 2.

    Interestingly, when you examine both images, they bear a Punch logo. So, Dubawa reached out the newsroom. We are yet to receive a response from them, though, all signs point to it being a doctored image. As always, we will update this fact-check once we receive new information.

  • The Case for Garri and Lassa Fever

    Full Text

    Expert cautions Nigerians not to drink garri, the popular Nigeria staple food. 

    The Guardian Nigeria, referencing NAN as its source published a story on the 18th of January 2020. The story cautions against the consumption of soaked Garri to avoid contacting Lassa fever. The Guardian attributed the warning to Dr Boniface Okolo. 

    The doctor claimed that rats are in contact with the most popular staple food ‘Garri’ which is a product of cassava. And, rats cause Lassa fever; hence necessitating the need to discourage Nigerians from consuming soaked Garri since it did not need boiled water. 

    He further explained that water at a boiling point could kill bacteria caused by pests or rodents. And since people usually soak ‘Garri’, not boil, we should avoid it. In one of the sentences, the report quoted him saying, “it is better the cassava flakes locally known as Garri be used for “eba…” 

    “We in the health ministry are waging war against rodents through sensitisation, that is what we are doing to ensure we do not have victims of Lassa fever in the state”

    Dr Okolo

    Also, a 2016 publication of  Kapital FM 92.9, another medical expert, says:

    “We are waging total war, and that is: War against Rats, and that is what we are going to do to ensure we do not have another victim of Lassa fever”.  

    A 2018 publication by Sahara reporters also agrees with this assertion amongst others.

    What is VHF?

    VHF stands for Viral hemorrhagic fevers– a group of viruses that interfere with the blood’s ability to clot. These fevers include Ebola and Marburg, Lassa fever and yellow fever viruses. Their threat level ranges from benign to life-threatening as the case may be. These viruses live in animals, especially rodents (Rats).

    Contact with infected animals, people or insects results in infection. While these viruses infect rodents or insects, they can also affect people exposed to the body, fluids or droppings of an infected rodent. So a bite from an infected mosquito or crushing an infected tick carrying VHF are sure ways of becoming infected. 

    Common symptoms of infected parties include:

    • Fever
    • Fatigue
    • Dizziness
    • Muscle aches
    • Loss of strength
    • Exhaustion

    Also, people with severe cases can exhibit the following symptoms:

    • Bleeding: (under the skin, internal organs, or from body openings like the mouth, eyes, or ears).
    • Shock
    • Seizures
    • Nervous system failure
    • Coma
    • Delirium
    • Kidney failure

    Brief History

    Lassa fever, discovered and named after a community in Borno state, is a viral haemorrhagic fever found in mastomys rodent or multimammate rats. These are rodents recognised by their pointed mouths and unique kind of odour.

    Image source: WHO

    Lassa fever is an animal-borne disease, that is, spread from animals to humans. Humans are infected if they come in contact with house-hold items, food, water, contaminated with the droppings or urine of an infected multimammate rat (mastomys).

    Multimamate rodents live throughout West Africa, and they can shed this virus without being ill themselves. People can become sick if they have contact with anything infected or contaminated by these rats.

    The incubation period of Lassa fever is between 6 – 21 days. Generally, symptoms begin with fever, general weakness, and malaise( a general feeling of discomfort). Subsequently, headache, sore throat, muscle pain, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, cough, and abdominal pain may follow.

    But in severe cases, there is facial swelling, fluid in the lung cavity, bleeding from the mouth, nose, vagina, or gastrointestinal tract and low blood pressure may develop. 

    Symptoms

    Image source: Avon

    The Premise

    Rodents such as the rat that transmit Lassa fever virus lives around houses. Also, they have the habit of contaminating opened food with its excreta. We already established that the latter carries the virus. Additionally, once a rodent becomes a carrier of this fever, it will excrete the virus throughout the rest of its lifetime; thus, creating ample opportunity for exposure. 

    Consequently, all forms of food contaminated with the carrier’s (rat) urine, eaten without any processing (heat), creates room for transmission. Although, it is essential to note that some forms of bacteria- like Thermophilic– can thrive in high temperatures.   

    Why is Garri the subject of the conversation?

    If all food products are susceptible to this virus, why was garri singled out? The publication centred on garri because it is a staple food. It is a food that consumed without the “processing” we talked about earlier; it is more of a ready-made or “to-go” snack. For this reason, drinking garri produced or sold in an unhygienic condition or environment can expose the buyer to this virus. 

    While Garri is not the only food vulnerable to infection, there is hardly any ready-made food that is as popular as it. As a matter of fact, on occasion, people eat garri straight from the bag when buying from the market; in a bid to find out its “quality”. However, this advisory exempts eba, prepared with hot water, consequently killing the viral infection. 

    Also, food products such as rice, semovita, sugar, beans, millet, wheat etc. are susceptible to this infection; if they are not covered. But unlike garri, their preparation involves boiling.

    Prevent Lassa Fever

    Image source: NCDC

    General Hygiene is Essential

    General hygiene is critical and essential for controlling viral infection. Keeping your food items cooked, sealed or covered is imperative. Additionally, leaving utensils, pans and other items clean and germ-free are measures one should put in place to avoid viral infection.

    Conclusion

    While soaked Garri may be a risk factor for Lassa fever, it boils down to several factors. The hygiene of both you and your vendor are criteria to consider as well. Keeping your house rodent-free is just as important.

  • What we know about the Coronavirus scare

    Popular health influencer on Twitter, @DrOlufunmilayo had reached out to other users on the platform on Saturday morning; creating awareness about a new virus in China that had allegedly killed 2 and put 7 in critical condition. 

    The January 18th post has over 6.5K retweets and 2.1K likes; it also featured on Whatsapp groups.

    Is there a new virus in China?

    A new deadly virus has cast a dark shadow over Asia and fear of a pandemic is looming. Coronaviruses (as they are called) are a large family of viruses; 6 in number or so we thought. The newly detected one in the central city of Wuhan, China put its number to 7.

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), these set of viruses cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). Symptoms can range from fever and coughing to kidney failure, and in some cases lead to death. Some coronaviruses transmit easily from person to person, while others do not.

    What are the authorities saying?

    BBC suggested the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) may have originated from infected animals at a seafood market that also sells dead animals in Wuhan, the largest city in central China. Since then, the virus has been infecting people as it spreads within and outside China, causing deaths and severe sickness.

    CNN reported a death from the virus on Friday 17th of January; further revealing dozens sick as a result of the virus. BBC on Tuesday, 21 January also reported 6 deaths in China and how it has spread to other Asian countries – Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

    As a result of this and the fear of impending dominance of the virus, China’s government has sent out warnings to its citizens, urging them not to cover up the spread of the new virus. 

    Excerpt from BBC report

    The publication further surmised the warning to be the result of China’s prior experience with the coronary virus- SARS. It recalled China’s negligence concerning information resulted in the reported 774 death casualties in the early 2000s across several countries, mostly in Asia.

    What is WHO saying?

    The World Health Organization is still indecisive on whether to declare the virus as “a public health emergency of international concern”; this was the case for Ebola. It premised its reason on there not being enough information.

    “Today, there was an excellent discussion during the committee meeting but it was also clear that to proceed, we need more information”

    WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

    The WHO issued situation reports on the 20th and 21st of January giving updates about the virus, affected areas and precautionary measures to be taken.

    While we wait for its decision on the virus, the body had advised the public to avoid “unprotected” contact with live animals. It further suggested we thoroughly cook meat and eggs and avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.

    What are the implications for Nigerians?

    @DrOlufunmilayo had mentioned in his tweet that the US has commenced screening at her Airport. A notion expressed in this CNN report, it seems other countries have begun to take measures; “increasing health screenings and implementing new quarantine procedures as officials race to slow the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.

    The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has assured Nigerians that it is taking necessary steps…

    The NCDC is the country’s leading health institute. In its recently published public health advisory, it advised Nigerians to be calm regarding coronavirus. It further made known its commitment to making sure the Nigerian atmosphere is safe and secure.

    “The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is currently coordinating a technical group that is assessing and managing the risk of importation to Nigeria. NCDC is in close communication with the World Health Organization (WHO) who is closely monitoring the situation globally. WHO is in direct communication with the Government of China and other affected countries, and has released technical and travel guidance.   
    “The Port Health Services Unit of the Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria has been placed on alert and has heightened screening measures at the points of entry. In China, exit screening measures have been enhanced for travellers from Wuhan city at the Points of Entry (PoE) (airports and ground transport stations) since the 14th of January 2020. This includes temperature checks, combined with provision of information and masks to passengers with fever, as well as directing symptomatic passengers to health facilities for follow up.” 

    Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)

    This came after establishing the fact that there is no specific treatment for disease caused by the virus yet. However, many of the symptoms can be treated. Therefore, treatment is based on the patient’s clinical condition. It also added that supportive care for infected persons can be highly effective.

    UPDATE!!!

    The World Health Organization has declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern after an emergency meeting on Thursday, January 30th in Geneva.

    The decision came after cases of human-to-human transmissions were confirmed outside China, where the outbreak started. And the fear that it would spread to countries with weaker health systems further brought about the decision.

    Coronavirus tracker 

    As the number of infected persons changes quickly, a real-time tracking map was revealed to show the movement of the virus. 

    This map is from Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and  Engineering. It follows coronavirus cases across the world. Besides the map, this article (last updated on February 2) also contains information about the worldwide cases of the 2019-nCoV. 

    Coronavirus in Lagos.

    Rumour had it last week that coronavirus was detected in a Lekki hospital in Lagos. However, News platforms, as well as health officials, have come out to set the record straight.

    The Lagos state commissioner for health, Prof. Akin Abayomi while addressing the rumour has provided actual details of the situation for clarification. This he has done via his Twitter page.

    In addition, the state’s Ministry of Health has also stated in its press release that there is no case of coronavirus in Lagos.

    Also worth noting, It should also be known that Lagos State Government said it has reached an agreement with the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria to quarantine all Chinese travelling back to Lagos from their country in order to avert the outbreak of deadly Coronavirus in the State.

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