The federal government was Thursday directed to immediately take steps at ensuring that all persons arriving from China, especially Chinese citizens resident in Nigeria who travelled for the Chinese Lunar New Year festivities, are put in self-isolation(quarantined).
Giving the directive at plenary, the Senate specifically advised affected persons to stay indoors in their various homes for at least two weeks before mixing with the Nigerian public.
The upper chamber also extended the call for self-isolation to travellers from other countries on record to have been affected by the outbreak of the deadly disease.
China had recorded over 170 deaths from the virus which has also killed dozens in other Asian countries, with thousands within the Asia continent and Far East already infected.
The Senate, accordingly, advised the Nigerian public desirous of travelling to Asia continent to put all arrangements on hold until the Coronavirus outbreak is eliminated.
These were fallouts of resolutions adopted by the Senate after consideration of a motion titled: “Coronavirus Outbreak and preventive response towards stemming its spread in Nigeria.”
In his presentation, sponsor of the motion, Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu North), explained that the virus is spread through the air by coughing or sneezing, close personal contact, touching a contaminated object or surface, and rarely by faecal contamination.
He added that the Human Coronavirus was previously reported to cause severe symptoms such as acute respiratory syndrome, following the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov) outbreak that began in Wuhan, China.
Utazi recalled that in response to the outbreak of the killer virus, “China put millions of people in three of its cities on lockdown in an effort to contain a Coronavirus outbreak that has killed one hundred and seventy and infected more than six hundred and thirty persons.”
He said: “Health officials fear the number of infected people will rise rapidly as hundreds of millions of Chinese people travel within China and abroad during the weeklong Lunar New Year which begins on Saturday.”
The lawmaker, while highlighting efforts made by Nigerian authorities at preventing a possible outbreak of the virus, disclosed that the Federal Ministry of Health through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had risen to the occasion by monitoring the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by the novel (new) Coronavirus.
He said the aviation regulatory agencies recently stepped up surveillance across operating airlines and international airports nationwide, as well as issued a travel advisory in a bid to contain any case of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Senator Jibrin Barau (APC, Kano North), in his contribution, described the motion as a wake-up call for health officials across the country to deploy early preventive measures.
He said, “I was thinking whether our health officials are doing everything possible to prevent the coming of this disease into the country.
“This motion is a wake-up call to our health officials to deploy preventive measures. We should find a way to send a message through this motion to make sure that the proper thing is done to safeguard the health of citizens and the nation,” the lawmaker advised.
While contributing to the debate, Senator James Manager (APC, Delta South), said according to records, China is the biggest and most populated country in the world.
The lawmaker raised the alarm that Nigeria and other countries were at risk of experiencing an outbreak given what he described as the uncontrolled influx of Chinese nationals from one country to another.
Senator Manager, who likened the Coronavirus to the deadly Ebola virus, urged Nigerian authorities to rise to the occasion, warning that “almost all powerful countries in the world are already affected.”
The Senate in its resolutions, urged Nigerians with any reported cases of likely infection or with symptoms approximate to those associated with Coronavirus to visit hospitals for urgent health check.
The upper chamber, while also calling on the federal government to allocate more funds to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), advised Nigerians to maintain good personal hygiene by constantly washing their hands with water and soap or through the use of liquid sanitisers.
…Group advises on travel
Meanwhile, the South East Amalgamated Markets Traders Association (SEAMATA), umbrella body of all traders in the South-east, has urged traders to shelve all business trips to China and other Asian countries.
The appeal was contained in a statement Thursday in Enugu by the President-General of SEAMATA, Chief Gozie Akudolu and its Secretary-General, Mr. Alex Okwudili.
The association “appealed to all our members and indeed, Nigerians to shelve all business trips to China, other Asian and far East countries for now, until the deadly Coronavirus epidemic is successfully and effectively contained.
“SEAMATA wishes to inform all our members in particular and all the traders across the federation in general, to be on red alert over the outbreak of the deadly Coronavirus epidemic currently in China and other Asian and far East countries, which incidentally, remain the business destinations of our members in their numbers.
“The association calls on all members to use for now, electronic and internet channels in dealing with their partners in China and other Asian countries until a remarkable improvement in the control of the deadly Coronavirus is achieved and the virus totally eradicated.
“In line with the advice of the Federal Ministry of Health, the association is reminding our teeming members across the federation to always make use of surgical masks in crowded places.
“Traders and Nigerians in general should maintain a very high standard of personal hygiene and always have hand sanitizers handy to keep the risk of infection at a distance,” it said.
The statement reminded Nigerians to always remember that “once anyone is infected with the virus, the individual’s household members, friends, associates and indeed the entire society, including the churches and markets are in a serious danger.
“This is the reason we should try to avoid trips to nations battling with the virus presently for now, until the situation is under control.
“Our earnest prayers are for God to protect each and every one of us and the members of our families and our nation from this virus. Thank you for heeding to this our distress call,” the association further pleaded.