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What we know about the Coronavirus scare

4 mins read 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.

Photo Credit: allAfrica.com 4 mins read

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.

Lateef Sanni is a graduate of mass communication from Lagos state university. Before joining Dubawa, he belonged to the association of campus journalists where he was trained on the basics of fact-checking, a tool for combating misinformation in Nigeria. He joined the Dubawa team as a researcher and content developer for Dubawa's social media platforms. He consistently works to improve the dissemination of fact-checks through pictures [fact cards] and videos.

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