On Monday, July 9th, the Federal Ministry of Health announced that the country had recorded its second case of Coronavirus, approximately 10 days after it announced its first case. The first case, an Italian who had returned from a vacation in his home country, was quarantined when he was found and has currently been discharged after recovering from the illness. The second case had been in direct contact with patient zero and had most likely contracted the illness from him. Everyone who has been in contact with the secondary patient has been asked to either self quarantine or turn themselves in to the nearest quarantine center. With the exception of some shenanigans from the Senate, our response has been excellent.
This is very different to the response from the virus to the home country of Nigeria’s ground zero patient. Italy, at the centre of an escalating epidemic had opportunities to institute preventive measures when it was revealed people who had been exposed to the virus were coming into Milan to participate in the Milan Fashion Week showcases but chose not to. As a consequence, the virus has spread so far into Italy and to the rest of Europe from Italy that the prime minister of the country has been forced to call a nation-wide state of emergency, and instituting legal punishments for anyone who defies the quarantine.
Nigeria’s response to the Ebola Virus was the first time the country proved its medical professionals could rise to the occasion and provide world class leadership in the management of a dangerous health crisis. Health minister Dr. Osagie Ehanire, through the FMOH has offered regular updates on the country’s efforts to manage the crisis and prevent a further spread of the virus. Everyone who has been in contact with the two infected cases is being monitored through contact tracing and currently 60 persons (40 in Ogun state and 20 in Lagos state) are under monitoring with no present symptoms. Nigeria has also sequenced the DNA of a Coronavirus, an important part of understanding the behaviour of the virus and potential ways to weaken its spread and discover a cure.
Often when we write about the Nigerian government, the news we have to report is often negative or outright cruel. It is a relief to write a story about a positive response to a major global crisis and to report that we are considered a leader in the fight against Coronavirus. We hope this continues, because the consequences are too high otherwise.