First coronavirus case in Sub-Saharan Africa confirmed in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation Updated for 2021

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Updated: March 2, 2021

The first coronavirus case in Sub-Saharan Africa has been confirmed in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation.

The country’s Ministry of Heath confirmed a Covid-19 case in the commercial capital, Lagos on Thursday and made the announcement on Friday.

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Health Minister Dr. Osagie Ehanire made the details public on social media. He said the first case in the region was an Italian citizen who worked in Nigeria and had returned from Italy to Lagos on 25 February.

Health Minister Osagie Emmanuel Ehanire at a press briefing in Abuja on Friday
Health Minister Osagie Emmanuel Ehanire at a press briefing in Abuja on Friday

“The patient is clinically stable, with no serious symptoms, and is being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos,” Ehanire said.

Authorities said the person was not showing serious signs of the disease and believed the coronavirus outbreak would be contained in Nigeria the same way ebola was contained.

It is the third case of coronavirus in Africa, the first in Sub-Saharan Africa. On February 14, 2020, Egypt announced the first case of Covid-19 in Africa. Algeria declared it had a case on Tuesday, an Italian adult who arrived in the country on 17 February.

WHO’s regional director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, to warned this week that the “window of opportunity the continent has had to prepare for coronavirus disease is closing.”

The Lagos State government said on Friday it has begun a massive manhunt for all the people who had made a contact with Italian now in isolation in Lagos.

The commissioner for health, Professor Akin Abayomi said the government was looking for all the contacts of the patient, since he arrived in Nigeria.

“Please, be reminded that most people who become infected may experience only a mild illness and recover easily, but it can be more severe in others, particularly the elderly”, the commissioner said, according to local newspaper P.M.News.

The Lagos Government said it was working in collaboration with the multi-sectoral Coronavirus Preparedness Group, led by Nigerian Centre for Disease Control and the Federal Government.

“We have immediately activated the State Emergency Operations Centre to respond to this case and implement firm control measures.

“We wish to assure all Lagosians and Nigerians that we have been strengthening our preparedness since the first confirmation of cases in China. We will use all the resources made available by the State and the Federal Government to respond to this case”.

The Italian arrived Nigeria on the 25th of February from Milan, Italy for a brief business visit.

“He fell ill on the 26th February and was transferred to Lagos State Biosecurity Facilities for isolation and testing. COVID-19 infection 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,” Abayomi said.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced on Friday that it had deployed its Rapid Response Teams to support the Lagos State Government, as Nigeria records its first case of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Nigerian minister of health Osagie Ehanire and Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General of NCDC said the agency has also ”escalated the multi-sectoral coronavirus preparedness group to an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), at Level II to lead response activities”.

Speaking at a press briefing in Abuja on Friday, Ehanire said “The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has activated its national Emergency Operations Centre & is working with Lagos State Ministry of Health to manage this case and implement firm control measures.”

“Nigerians are advised to keep calm. The patient is clinically stable, with no serious symptoms, and is being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.

“We have begun identifying and reaching out to possible contacts of the case in Nigeria,” the minister said.

Ihekweazu said that health facilities must remain on high alert, while also assuring Nigerians of their safety against COVID-19.

”The NCDC will continue to keep Nigerians informed. It is important for them to be focused on facts and not fear.

”Nigerians should protect themselves by staying calm, and by drinking lots of water.

He said Nigerians should frequently wash their hands, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth, practice respiratory hygiene and if anyone have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, he should seek medical care early.

In a statement on Friday, former Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar called for unity and national resolve to contain the coronavirus in Africa’s most populous nation.

“Now that Nigeria has had her first confirmed case of the Corona Virus infestation, via a citizen of Italy, who visited Lagos and Ogun states, I would want to offer my patriotic counsel to the government of Major General Muhammadu Buhari, on how best to tackle this issue. 

“We must call upon our experience with the Wild Ebola Virus, of which we were the first nation in the world to defeat that scourge in 2014. How did Nigeria do it? We achieved it by showing unprecedented unity. The federal government of the day, worked closely with the Lagos and Rivers state governments. There was complete unity, solidarity and oneness of purpose, which created the atmosphere that defeated that deadly infestation,” Atiku said in a statement.

Speaker of the Lagos House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, on Friday, called for calm among residents of the state following the detection of the first case of Coronavirus brought in by an Italian.

Obasa said the need by Lagos residents not to panic over the incident stems from the fact that the state government has always been proactive in relation to safety of lives.

According to the Speaker, prior to the confirmation of the first case of Coronavirus in Lagos, the state government had kept its antennae alert and had constantly enlightened the people concerning the health concern.

“Even though it is the most populous city in the country, Lagos state has always anticipated and taken steps ahead of events by equipping its medical facilities and making sure disease control centres are up-to-date with issues related to their field. This is why residents of the state should remain calm at this time.

“I can assure you that the executive arm of government is not relaxed and will continue with its concerted efforts to nip this concern in the bud.

“Be assured also that the legislative arm of the state government will do all within its powers to help the executive curtail the ailment since, as fortune would have it, we only have one recorded case,” Obasa said in a statement released by his media office.

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Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

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