The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, yesterday confirmed that the second case of COVID-19 in the country is a Nigerian in Ogun State.
He said the patient is a contact of the index case, a 44-year-old Italian man, and has been in isolation since the first case was confirmed. Ihekweazu, however, declined to give more information about the new patient.
The NCDC boss also disclosed that for the first time in Africa, researchers have successfully performed the genome sequencing of the coronavirus strain brought to Nigeria by the index case and matched it with the strain circulating in Italy and Wuhan.
“The result has been shared with international authorities and the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has extended congratulations to Nigerian scientists for this achievement,” Ihekweazu said, noting that the feat was coordinated by the Lagos State Ministry of Health and NCDC.
Contrary to media reports, Ihekweazu said he has completed the WHO recommended 14-day self-isolation or quarantine for people who visited high-risk areas. He had been part of the Dr. Bruce Aylward-led WHO-China expert group that visited Wuhan early February. “I have completed the 14-day recommended period and resumed work today (on Monday),” he stated.
On the second COVID-19 case in Nigeria, Ihekweazu told The Guardian: “The source of infection of this case is known and we are working to manage the risk of spread. The case does not have any symptoms currently but has been placed under care at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Lagos.”
He said the details of the case could not be made public because “the government of Nigeria and health workers always have an obligation to ensure patient confidentiality.”
Allaying fears, the NCDC boss said: “The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has initiated stronger public health interventions. Since the beginning of the outbreak in China and subsequent spread to other countries, one of the important response strategies, at the containment stage, has been to identify all contacts, ensure their strict isolation and follow up daily with checks for any symptoms of the disease. The NCDC has been supporting both the Lagos and Ogun State Ministries of Health in implementing these response strategies.”
He added: “The testing of all contacts of the confirmed case is a new strategy to ensure that new cases are detected early. In addition, we will begin to test for cases through the routine national influenza sentinel surveillance network.
“We have also rapidly scaled up our risk communications efforts and urge Nigerians to only share information from verified authorities including the Federal Ministry of Health, NCDC or State Ministry of Health.”
During a media parley at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) in Edo State yesterday, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, also confirmed that a Nigerian has contracted the virus, saying: “This brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nigeria to two.”