March 18, 2020
The Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) unfortunately confirms 5 new cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria within the last 36 hours, bringing total number of confirmed cases in Nigeria to 8.
Of the 5 new positive cases 3 arrived from the United States, while 2 came in from the United Kingdom. We are still collating information on the travellers; 2 of the 3 from the US are Nigerian, a mother and child, making the 6 week old baby the youngest COVID-19 patient we have, and the 3rd is an American national, who crossed the land border and becomes the first COVID-19 case not arriving by air. The 2 cases from the UK are Nigerians.
A detailed travel history of each person is being compiled and contacts currently being traced, to identify persons who have recently been in contact with anyone. The National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) led by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and supported by partners, is supporting response in the states. The Federal Government through Federal Ministry of Health is conducting risk assessment to help guide decision making.
We urge citizens not to panic, but allow experts in public health to guide response in a calculated, scientific manner. False information and rumour to cause fear and panic must be avoided at such times. The COVID-19 cases so far appear to have mild symptoms and are in recovery.
To protect yourselves and your families, I urge everyone to continue to take care and caution as advised. The government will do the needful to protect citizens' health.
The Presidential Task Force for the Control of Coronavirus (COVID-19), announced the following interventions on 17th of March:
i. Prohibition of all travel by public servants
ii Suspension of the visa on arrival policy until further notice.
iii. A firm travel advisory against non-essential travel to high burden countries, especially in view of the number of Nigerians who arrived from US and Europe and diagnosed in the past 48 hours with coronavirus infection
iv. A requirement that all persons returning from overseas self-isolate for observation for 14-days, even if they feel well. NCDC will disseminate information on the practice
v. Supervised self-isolation, including testing, of persons returning from nations with community transmission of more than 1,000 cases cumulatively, for 14 days by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Port Health Services
vi. Federal Government will restrict entry to Nigeria of persons from the listed high burden countries with effect from Friday March 20, for a period of 4 weeks.
vii A reminder that citizens maintain hand hygiene and standard respiratory etiquette
The Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) will continue to provide accurate and reliable updates as and when they are available, and take available measures to control spread of infectious disease outbreaks in Nigeria.
Dr. E. Osagie Ehanire
MD, FWACS Honourable Minister of Health