In less than 24 hours after the Federal Government took the most decisive action thus far to check the spread of Coronavirus in Nigeria, the Anambra State Government has lauded it for placing a ban on travellers from the 13 countries most affected by the viral outbreak and for restricting its officials from foreign trips until further notice.
Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, led top officials in the Ministries of Health and Foreign Affairs as well as other top government functionaries to a news conference Wednesday in Abuja where the action was announced.
“This is the right step to take in the present circumstance”, the Anambra State government said in a statement Thursday in Awka by the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C. Don Adinuba.
The Nigerian government and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) have reported eight cases of Coronavirus in the country.
“The people and government of Anambra State are keenly interested in far-reaching measures to mitigate the viral outbreak because ndi Anambra travel more than any other people in Nigeria, if not Africa”, Commissioner Adinuba explained.
They travel extensively to China, the world’s manufacturing capital, to import consumer goods as well as machinery and parts for their factories all over Nigeria and beyond.
“They also travel extensively for business, academic, religious and leisure purposes to Italy, Spain, United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Netherlands, France, Iran and South Korea and Japan, call ountries affected by the ban on account of recording more than 1,000 Coronavirus cases”.
The statement praised the Federal Government for “not waiting till confirmed cases in Nigeria rose astronomically before acting in the overriding public interest”.
According to Adinuba, “in appreciation of the safety and security of all our people wherever they may be in the world, the Anambra State administration became the first government in Nigeria to issue an advisory to its people on travels to China in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak late last December.
“The administration has, in the same vein, ensured strict compliance with Governor Willie Obiano’s directive to all Executive Council members, complete with a table time, to visit major markets, motor parks, hotels and other places with large congregations of people in the state and speak directly to the people on how to avoid not just the Coronavirus but also Lassa fever which is more dangerous and has been reported in our state”.
The index Lassa fever case involved a 25- year old female student in a higher institution who has since been treated and discharged from the Southeast regional virology centre in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.
The Anambra State Ministry of Health swiftly got in touch with all her contacts in the university and her hometown and quarantined them. None tested positive.
The way the state authorities handled the outbreak has elicited praise from experts.
“By working in close collaboration with Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Teaching Hospital in Awka which contacted the federal specialist hospital at Irrua in Edo State for test”, noted Dr John Ndibe, a respected public health specialist who retired as a director in the public service, “the government did the right thing”.
“It observed the World Health Organization (WHO) protocols in the management of viral cases”, agreed Dr Onyeka Ibezim, a public health specialist with the Ministry of Defence in Abuja.
Dr Ibezim added: “The other governments in the federation need to borrow a leaf from Anambra State”.