The World Health Organization(WHO) on Friday sent a dire warning to Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, to stop the spread of COVID-19 now that cases are still few or it may be too late, too hard, or almost impossible to deal with a much bigger and wider crisis.
Speaking from the WHO headquarters in Geneva, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Nigeria should seize the opportunity now that it has few cases to stop the virus from spreading by conducting enough testing, identifying those who test positive, isolating them and following up with contacts’ tracing.
He said those early measures would prevent the disease from growing from sporadic cases to a community transmission that may become harder to contain.
“The problem comes when community transmission starts, when the number of cases builds,” Dr. Ghebreyesus said, adding that when that happens, it becomes difficult or almost impossible to “quarantine” many people.
“The growing number of cases means the healthcare system could be overwhelmed,” he said, adding that Nigeria needs to cut the spread of COVID-19 now before it’s too late.
He said Nigeria should invest more in public health interventions and follow WHO guidelines about COVID-19 to prevent the spread of the deadly bug.
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Nigeria now has 97 confirmed cases of coronavirus. One person has died and three have recovered.
There are now 59 confirmed cases in Lagos, 14 in the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja, 3 in Ogun, 1 in Ekiti, 7 in Oyo, 2 in Edo, 2 in Bauchi, 2 in Osun, 2 in Rivers and 2 in Enugu, 1 in Benue and 1 in Kaduna, the Nigerian center of disease control (NCDC) said in a tweet on Saturday.
Nigeria has taken some measures, with school closures, crowd control measures and sensitization campaigns on hygiene and respiratory etiquettes, including sneezing and coughing away from people.
Globally, more than 25,000 people have died from coronavirus, over 550,000 have been infected and more than 127,000 have recovered, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
Despite the good news around those who have fought the disease successfully, many people continue to die. In the past 24 hours, at least 769 people died in Spain from coronavirus, its highest single-day death toll, Spain’s health ministry announced on Friday.
The United States also on Thursday became the epicenter of the deadliest coronavirus outbreak in the world. It overtook China and Italy for the number of confirmed cases, and continued to sprint forward as the minutes turned into hours.
In Italy, about a thousand people also died and more people got infected.
The good news though is that more people who catch the virus overcome it with supportive therapeutic measures as there is no known drug at the moment that can treat the disease.