The Nigeria Immigration Service and Port Health Services have expressed fears over the outbreak of Coronavirus.
The fatal disease broke out in China sometime last month and has spread to eight countries including United States and Singapore, with over 800 people infected and 30 killed in the past few weeks.
Immigration and Port Health Services officials have disclosed that hundreds of the Chinese who left Nigeria for China to celebrate their annual festival – Lunar New Year – would start returning to Lagos, Abuja and other parts of the country from next week.
Some officials of Port Health Services, a unit under the Ministry of Health, said the risk of importing the virus into Nigeria could not be completely ruled out since there was a window period of 10 days during which infected persons might not manifest any of the known symptoms of Coronavirus.
According to them, the thermal scanners installed at the airports are expected to alert them whenever any passenger with body heat exceeding 37 degrees passes under it.
The known symptoms of Coronavirus are fever, sneezing, difficulty in breathing and high temperature.
A PHS official at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, said he was worried that health questionnaires were not being administered on China passengers.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “We have nose masks and kits here to protect ourselves. We also have sanitisers.
‘My worry, however, is that there are no health questionnaires to administer on passengers from China. Even at Lagos airport where more Chinese passengers are recorded, there are no health questionnaires. The health questionnaires we have were designed for Ebola virus. We don’t take proactive actions in Nigeria until things happen and we will start running around.’
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria have put all airline operators, Air Navigation Service Providers and Aerodrome Operators on the alert over the outbreak of coronavirus.
The National Centre for Disease Control said there was no specific cause for the deadly coronavirus yet but added that each of the symptoms could be treated separately for the carriers of the virus to survive.
A statement from the centre said, “There is no specific treatment for disease caused by the novel coronavirus yet. However, many of the symptoms can be treated. Therefore, treatment is based on the patient’s clinical condition. In addition, supportive care for infected persons can be highly effective.”
It added, “Travellers from Wuhan to Nigeria may be asked questions upon arrival by the PHS unit at points of entry about symptoms of illness and travel history, and are advised to report immediately to NCDC, if they feel ill after a trip to Wuhan.”
Cases of the disease have been reported in Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the United States as well as in the Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau.
As of Friday, more than 800 people have been infected across China, with 177 in serious condition. Authorities were also examining 1,072 suspected case.
Meanwhile, the WHO has advised all countries to prepare for containment, including active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing and prevention of onward spread of Coronavirus.
In a statement, the UN health agency, declared that Novel Coronavirus was not yet an official PHEIC but said countries should expect that further international exportation of cases might appear in any country.
The statement said, “Countries should place particular emphasis on reducing human infection, prevention of secondary transmission and international spread.
“They should also place emphasis on contributing to the international response though multi-sectoral communication and collaboration and active participation in increasing knowledge on the virus and the disease, as well as advancing research.’
Official figures obtained indicates that about 120,000 Chinese nationals visit Nigeria annually mainly to explore business and other economic opportunities in agriculture, solid mineral exploration and mining.
According to the President, China Chambers of Commerce in Nigeria, Mr Ye Shuijin, 160 Chinese firms operating in the country had employed over 200,000 Nigerians, many of whom are sent to China for training and seminars from time to time.
Also, no fewer than 30,000 Nigerians travel to different Chinese cities every year for business or tourism.
Findings also reveal that about 60,000 Chinese nationals are living in different cities in Nigeria.
China, according to reports, went into lockdown on Friday after authorities and business owners scrambled to shut tourist attractions and public transport systems as part of efforts to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Major festivities all over the country have been cancelled, including those at Beijing’s Forbidden City, a major tourist destination, and fairs and carnivals in Beijing and Hong Kong.

Infinity Tyres