Abuja, Feb. 7, 2020
Dr Dhamari Naidoo, an official of the World Health Organisation (WHO), says the agency has deployed a team of experts to support Nigeria’s response plan on coronavirus.
Naidoo, WHO’s Nigeria Technical Officer in Health Emergency Programme, said this at a meeting to build the capacity of journalists on how to report coronavirus on Friday in Abuja.
She said WHO had been supporting countries globally, especially countries with high risk of importing the virus.
According to her, the risk of importing the virus is high in the country recognising that Nigerians travel frequently to China.
“WHO has deployed the experts from Africa to support us for two weeks to ensure that our plan and preparedness is complete and on point.
“As at Jan. 31, Coronavirus Inter-ministerial Preparedness and Response Committee was convened by the Minister of Health and he inaugurated a committee to develop an Action Plan.
“The focus of the committee is to ensure that our points of entry have sufficient capacity to monitor in-coming travellers.’’
The official told the journalists that the focus was on nine states, hosting ports of entry both by air and water.
“The nine states are: Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Delta and Balyesa.
“That is our main priority now; within Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) which we are supporting, we have activated the coronavirus preparedness working group and the group has been working in the past two weeks.
“We are also working to ensure that the Inter-ministerial committee has the capacity to provide patients care and diagnostic capacity,’’ she said.
Speaking on Africa, Naidoo said that WHO risk assessment was high in the continent because of its close ties with China and other Asian countries.
“ What the continent is currently implementing is out of screening and out of the point screening at the major international ports to detect any potential of importation.
“ The region has made considerable progress in preparing and one way we have been doing it is through preparing for influenza pandemic.
`These are the systems that have been put in place for countries to detect and monitor any outbreak of respiratory disease.
“ Countries for the past 10 years have been preparing for this, the systems are functional in the continent,’’ she said.
According to her, one of the main key components in the preparedness is laboratory capacity or diagnostic capacity.
“ One way in which WHO is supporting is through procurement of diagnostic kits, this week, we have provided 20 countries with diagnostics capacity.’’
Naidoo, however, called on journalists to study the technical terms used in reporting the virus to guide against misinformation.