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Coronavirus incident confirmed in Lagos by Centre for Disease Control


A statement bearing the name of the Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire has announced the first coronavirus incident in Nigeria in the city of Lagos.

The Federal Ministry of Health has confirmed a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) case in Lagos State, Nigeria.

The case, which was confirmed on the 27th of February 2020, is the first case to be reported in Nigeria since the beginning of the outbreak in China in January 2020. 

The case is an Italian citizen who works in Nigeria and returned from Milan, Italy to Lagos, Nigeria on the 25th of February 2020. He was confirmed by the Virology Laboratory of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, part of the Laboratory Network of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control. The patient is clinically stable, with no serious symptoms, and is being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.  

The Government of Nigeria, through the Federal Ministry of Health has been strengthening measures to ensure an outbreak in Nigeria is controlled and contained quickly. The multi-sectoral Coronavirus Preparedness Group led by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has immediately activated its national Emergency Operations Centre and will work closely with Lagos State Health authorities to respond to this case and implement firm control measures.

I wish to assure all Nigerians that have we have been beefing up our preparedness capabilities since the first confirmation of cases in China, and we will use all the resources made available by the government to respond to this case.

We have already started working to identify all the contacts of the patient, since he entered Nigeria. Please be reminded that most people who become infected may experience only mild illness and recover easily, but it can be more severe in others, particularly the elderly and persons with other underlying chronic illnesses. All Nigerians should take care of their health and maintain hand and respiratory hygiene to protect themselves and others, including their own families, following the precautions below:

1.    Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water, and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

2.    Maintain at least 1 & half metres (5 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

3. Persons with persistent cough or sneezing should stay home or keep a social distance, but not mix in crowd.

4. Make sure you and people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene, meaning cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or into your sleeve at the bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.

5. Stay home if you feel unwell with symptoms like fever, cough and difficulty in breathing. Please call NCDC toll free number which is available day and night, for guidance- 0800-970000-10. Do not engage in self-medication 

6. Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19 through official channels on TV and Radio, including the Lagos State Ministry of Health, NCDC and Federal Ministry of Health.

Citizens must not abuse social media and indulge in spreading misinformation that causes fear and panic. The Federal Ministry of Health, through Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, will continue to provide updates and will initiate all measures required to prevent the spread of any outbreak in Nigeria.

Dr Osagie Ehanire

Hon. Minister of Health

COVID-19: WHO says number of new cases outside China more than in China


The number of COVID-19 cases outside China has surpassed those inside the country for the first time, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced.

In a span of 24 hours, new COVID-19 cases were announced in Denmark, Romania, Norway, Georgia, North Macedonia and Greece. And outside Europe, Algeria, Brazil and Pakistan also reported their first coronavirus infections on Wednesday.

The Brazilian case marked the arrival of the virus in Latin America, which brings the number of infected people to more than 80,000 globally in about 40 countries.
Italy and beyond

The number of coronavirus cases in Italy has jumped to 470 and 12 deaths have been reported at the time of writing. The worst-affected areas are in the industrial north of the country, Lombardy, the region around Milan, and Veneto near Venice.

Government officials have sought to ease public anxiety, and assured steps were being taken to prevent the spread of the disease.

The rise in Italy, the main focus of infection in Europe, represents a 25 percent surge in 24 hours.

Several other European countries have reported their first coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours – many of these are linked to people who have been to Italy.

Denmark confirmed its first coronavirus infection in a man who recently returned from a ski holiday in the Lombardy region in northern Italy, the Danish Health Authority said on Thursday.

On Wednesday, a second person suffering from coronavirus died in France, and another man, who had a travel history to the region, also tested positive for the virus, reported local health authorities.

In Romania, Health Minister Victor Costache said his country’s first case was detected in a man from the southern county of Gorj. He had been “in direct contact with an Italian citizen who traveled to Romania earlier this month,” Costache told reporters. “He is in a good condition and will be transferred to a Bucharest infectious hospital.”

Germany’s health minister warned the public that the country is “at the beginning of an epidemic” since the country has been bracing for an increase in confirmed cases since the number of infected people spiked Friday in nearby Italy.

The local government launched the testing process in western Germany after a 47-year-old man with the virus was hospitalized in serious condition in Düsseldorf. Col. Rainer Volb, acting head of the German military hospital in Koblenz, who had contact with the hospitalized man also tested positive afterwards. It is the first case in the southwestern German state, which brings the confirmed cases in Germany to 21, the second highest in Europe.
Iran and beyond

Iran, the main hotspot in the Middle East, has reported 141 cases and 22 deaths, which is the highest number of deaths outside China.

The fatality rate of COVID-19 varies according to age, sex, and region, with a range from 0.7 percent to four percent, according to WHO. But with Iran’s apparent death rate of over 15 percent, some epidemiologists say the number of infected patients could be far higher.

Iranian officials have asked people not to go to Qom, the center of the outbreak, but did not shut down the shrine in the city that attracts millions of Shia pilgrims each year.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Iran had no plans to quarantine any “cities and districts” in response to the country’s coronavirus outbreak.

Kuwait now has 43 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to a health ministry official. The official added that all the cases involved people who had been to Iran.

Qatar’s ruler Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on Wednesday ordered the evacuation of Qatari and Kuwaiti citizens from Iran due to the spreading of the coronavirus COVID-19, according to the state news agency.

Meanwhile, Kazakhstan has said it will suspend flights to and from Iran from March 1.

Bahrain’s ministry of health confirmed on Thursday seven new cases of the coronavirus, increasing the total number of infected individuals to 33, according to the state news agency (BNA).

The ministry said that one of the newly confirmed cases is a Bahrain citizen who had returned from Iran before the country started confirming cases of coronavirus.

On Thursday, Iraq reported its confirmed cases of COVID-19 to six, including Baghdad’s first. Iraq has banned all public gatherings and banned travelers from Kuwait and Bahrain from entry, the health minister said, taking the total number of countries on the entry ban list to nine.

Pakistan’s Health Minister Zafar Mirza confirmed the first two cases of coronavirus in the country. Mirza said both patients, one in the southern province of Sindh and the other in the capital Islamabad, had traveled to Iran in the past two weeks.
The outliers

From where the “patient No.1” in Iran contracted the virus is still a mystery, which poses big challenges to virus containment in the region.

On the other side of the world map, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the first possible “community spread” in California on Wednesday, which means the CDC doesn’t know exactly how the patient contracted the virus.

The local newspaper reported that a Japanese woman who had recovered from COVID-19 and had been released from hospital has now tested positive again, quoting government officials. This is the first case in Japan where a patient has tested positive after being discharged.

The woman is a tour guide in her 40s, from the city of Osaka. She first tested positive in late January but was discharged from hospital after recovering on February 1. She later developed a sore throat and chest pains and then tested positive again.

There are also a few similar cases reported in China before.

COVID-19: China seeks cooperation with Japan, South Korea against cross border infections


Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday night called for coordination with South Korea and Japan against the cross-border spread of the COVID-19 in separate phone calls with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts.

Wang told South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha that China and South Korea should jointly strive to minimize the COVID-19 outbreak’s impact on bilateral exchanges as well as economic and trade cooperation.

Wang suggested that on the basis of effective epidemic prevention and control, the two countries should help their affected industries and enterprises ride out the current difficulties, maintain the stability of their industrial and supply chains, and enhance bilateral practical cooperation.
Wang thanked South Korea for its help and support for China in the fight against the disease, and spoke of highly of the swift and effective measures Seoul took to prevent and control the COVID-19.

Kang said there is a reason behind the mounting number of infected cases in South Korea and his country has confidence to curb the disease from further spreading and is willing to work with China to jointly face down the challenge.

By the end of Wednesday, a total of 78,497 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection had been reported in 31 provincial-level regions on the Chinese mainland, and 2,744 people had died of the disease.


32,495 Covid-19 patients discharged from hospitals in China


A total of 32,495 patients infected with the novel coronavirus had been discharged from hospitals after recovery by the end of Wednesday, Chinese health authority said Thursday.

South Korea reported 334 new cases of the new coronavirus Thursday, bringing the total number of infections to 1,595.

So far, 12 people have died. More than half of the newly-confirmed cases came from a branch of a religious sect in the southeastern city of Daegu.

Since raising the virus alert level to “red,” the highest level, on Sunday, health authorities have focused on halting the spread of the virus in Daegu, the epicenter of the virus outbreak in South Korea, and North Gyeongsang Province, reported Yonhap

Over 30% of China SMEs resume operations amid epidemic


More than 30 percent of China’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have resumed work and production as the country enhances policy support to make it easier for them to reopen businesses amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, an official said Thursday.

“We will ensure solid implementation of the supportive policies and promote business resumption with separate approaches based on local epidemic situation,” Zhang Kejian, vice minister of industry and information technology, told a news conference when highlighting a raft of favorable measures introduced recently to help the SMEs.

Supportive fiscal and financial measures have offered substantial support to the SMEs in terms of loans, taxes and overheads, and the resumption progress has gained momentum, Zhang said.

As of Wednesday, the resumption rate was 32.8 percent, up 3.2 percentage points from Sunday, he said, citing monitor data gathered on an online platform of 2.2 million firms.

While the resumption is relatively low at the moment for the SME sector as a whole, recovery picked up in many sub-sectors. Manufacturing firms had a recovery rate of 43.1 percent by Wednesday, up 6.2 percentage points from Sunday, while online education and information technology service providers achieved over 40 percent of resumption, Zhang said.

The SMEs contribute significantly to China’s job market and economic development. By the end of 2018, China had over 18 million legal persons of SMEs, or 99.8 percent of the total, according to an economic census.

China will step up fiscal and financial support to SMEs in resuming production after a prolonged Spring Festival holiday due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said earlier this month.

Local governments will be encouraged to reduce or waive taxes and administrative fees on certain SMEs and increase subsidies to corporate training programs, and financial institutions will be incentivized to lower loan interest rates to those promising SMEs hit hard by the outbreak.

The country will also help SMEs with supplies of raw material and virus-control equipment and extend the payment deadline for their electricity and gas bills, the ministry said.