Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, has said the Chinese government through its embassy in Nigeria is working with the Lagos State Government to prevent the entry of coronavirus into the state through the quarantine of travellers from China.
This development is coming on the heels of a warning by the Federal Government to Nigerians to halt any plans to visit China, in view of the raging case of coronavirus in the Asian country.
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, gave the advice in Abuja on Wednesday at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
The FEC approved a travel advisory for Nigerians, stating clearly that all travel plans to China be stopped in the meantime.
The advisory also directed all returnees to Nigeria from China to be quarantined outdoors within a period of two weeks before fully interacting with their families.
Ehanire explained that the two weeks would be used to monitor possible symptoms on the bodies of the returnees.
The government also directed all airlines flying into Nigeria to report any passenger with signs of illness to airport authorities upon landing at any airport in the country.
The minister added that all disease control and monitoring agencies in the country had been alerted to be on the lookout for any signs of the infection.
The plan to quarantine travellers from China to Lagos was disclosed by the Director of Public Affairs, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Tunbosun Ogunbanwo, on Wednesday.
The ministry spokesman quoted Abayomi as saying that the areas of cooperation between Lagos State and the Chinese embassy in Nigeria include the issuing of advisory on travel between China and Lagos and self-quarantine of persons coming in from China and other endemic countries especially from South-East Asia to Lagos.
The commissioner noted that the Chinese government had sent notification to her citizens to remain in China until there was clarity about the spread of the infection.
He said the Chinese government had also instructed that their citizens who chose to return to Nigeria should be self-quarantined for 10 to 14 days.
He said, “We are very happy with the cooperation we are receiving from the Chinese government. We’ve had a very serious and high-level discussion with the Chinese government through their embassy in Lagos, our primary concern has been the return of their citizens to Lagos in a few days’ time and we are happy to inform you that the embassy of China is also concerned about this.
“They have sent out information through notifications to their citizens and companies located in Lagos that their citizens should try and remain in China until there is clarity about how this infection is going.
“However, if some of them choose to return, and we cannot restrict people, if they do return to Lagos, the instruction from the Chinese Embassy is that they should be quarantined for a period of 10 to 14 days in their houses, hostels and accommodations.”
The Commissioner added that officials of the Ministry of Health would meet with associations and businessmen in Lagos particularly those who make use of the China-Nigeria trade routes to advise them on their travels to Asian countries, particularly China.
“Lagos is also particularly vulnerable because of its peculiar nature; it is the largest megacity in Africa, it has a very high dense population and it has many high-density residential locations and a significant number of slums and therefore it becomes particularly vulnerable to outbreak spread and it is our duty to ensure that we put all strategies in place to try and prevent the entry or the spread of the virus in our communities,” the Commissioner said.