The novel coronavirus outbreak, which originated from China, was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) by the World Health Organisation last week.
Since then, countries have heightened their health security surveillances, especially at the borders and various points of entries.
This has become necessary as the fast spread of the coronavirus is becoming alarming. The disease was first thought to be transmitted from animals to humans, however, research has confirmed that human to human transmission is possible.
As at Sunday, the disease has been transported to about 24 countries.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control said it is closely monitoring the ongoing outbreak and has developed a guide with answers to frequently asked questions.
What is the novel coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are normally transmitted between animals and people. The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans.
It was first detected on January 7, 2020 in Wuhan, China.
Some coronaviruses can be transmitted from person-to-person, usually after close contact with an infected patient, for example, in a household or healthcare setting. For this novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), while most initial transmission appeared to be zoonotic, person-to-person transmission has been confirmed.
What is the source of 2019-nCoV?
Scientists and public health officials are working hard to identify the source of the 2019-nCoV.
Coronaviruses can be transmitted between animals and people, or from person-to-person. For this novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), the initial transmission appeared to be from an animal source, but person- to-person transmission has occurred.
What is the risk of the virus coming to Nigeria?
The risk assessment conducted by WHO places the country at High Risk, meaning that there is a high chance of an infected person (traveller) coming into Nigeria.
Has anyone in Nigeria (been) infected?
Till date, there is no confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in Nigeria.
What is Nigeria doing to prevent the disease from entering the country?
The Nigerian government is closely monitoring the ongoing coronavirus outbreak which originated in Wuhan, China.
A multi-sectoral Coronavirus Preparedness Group has been established at NCDC. The Coronavirus Preparedness Group meets daily to carry out regular epidemic intelligence gathering.
Since the beginning of the outbreak in China, NCDC has shared public health advisories to guide Nigerians on what to do in the event of an outbreak.
The Port Health Services Division of the Department of Public Health has heightened screening at the ports of entry, especially for travellers with a travel history to China.
The NCDC has established a standard case definition for novel coronavirus and circulated it to State Ministries of Health, health facilities and all relevant stakeholders to guide detection and response.
Does Nigeria have the capacity to diagnose 2019-nCoV?
The NCDC National Reference Laboratory has the capacity to diagnose the 2019-nCoV.
Health officials are advised to call 07032864444 for sample transportation and related advice if they have a case that fits the case-definition.
Where are the treatment centres in Nigeria?
NCDC is currently preparing treatment and isolation facilities in the Federal Capital Territory and seven other priority states in Nigeria. They are: Lagos, Akwa-Ibom, Rivers, Enugu, Delta, Cross River, and Kano states.
Can I travel to China from Nigeria?
The World Health Organisation has not placed any travel or trade restrictions on China. However, it is advised that only essential travel is made at this time.
What should I do when I return to Nigeria from China?
If you have travelled from Wuhan or any other province in China to Nigeria in the last 14 days, you should stay indoors and avoid contact with other people.
Please follow this advice even if you do not have symptoms of the virus.
What number(s) can I call if there is an emergency?
Please call NCDC Toll-free Number: 0800-970000-10 SMS: 08099555577, WhatsApp: 07087110839
Who should call these numbers?
Any person that has returned from China within the last 14 days and has the following symptoms- fever, cough, difficulty with breathing, close contact with a confirmed case of 2019-nCoV virus, and those who have visited a healthcare facility where hospital-associated 2019-nCoV infections have been reported.
What are the symptoms of 2019-nCoV?
The symptoms of the 2019-nCoV are: Cough, fever, breathing difficulties that are not explained by any other illness.
Unwell people who are immunocompromised and have recently travelled to China should be examined promptly by their physician, regardless of the type of illness they have.
How do people become infected with this virus?
People get infected by the virus when it is transmitted from animals to humans, or person-to-person.
Investigations are underway to determine the source of the virus, the types of exposure that lead to infection, the mode of transmission, and the clinical pattern and course of disease.
Can the virus be transmitted from person to person?
There is evidence of person-to-person transmission in 2019 n-CoV outbreak.
Is there a vaccine for 2019-nCoV?
No vaccine is currently available to protect against infection from 2019 n-CoV.
Does treatment exist for 2019-nCoV?
There is no specific treatment yet for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. However, many of the symptoms can be managed. Therefore, treatment is based on the patient’s clinical condition. Supportive care for infected persons can be highly effective.
Do people recover from the 2019-nCoV infection?
From current evidence about 98 persons out of 100 persons with the disease recover, and it appears that death is a not the most common outcome. Most deaths have occurred in patients with underlying health issues.
Am I at risk of catching 2019-nCoV from a package or products that arrive from China?
Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of 2019-nCoV associated with imported goods or packages from China and there has been no known case of 2019-nCoV in Nigeria, associated with imported goods.
What about animals or animal products imported from China?
The NCDC does not have any evidence to suggest that animals or animal products imported from China pose a risk for spreading 2019-nCoV in Nigeria. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.
Is there anything a person can do to avoid becoming infected?
To reduce the risk of infection or spread of 2019-nCov3, members of the public are advised to adhere to the following hand and respiratory hygiene measures:
• Wash your hands regularly with soap under running water and use hand sanitisers frequently.
• Cover your mouth and nose properly with tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing and immediately dispose of the tissue in a covered waste bin. After this, wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser.
• You may also cough into your elbow if a disposable tissue is not available. You are strongly advised not to re-use handkerchiefs.
• If you become sick while travelling, you should avoid close contact with other people whileyou are symptomatic and cover your mouth and nose with a face mask.
• Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
• Healthcare workers are always advised to observe standard infection prevention and control measures when attending to patients and take a travel history.
• Travellers from China, who show no symptoms on arrival, but who have a fever and cough within 14 days of arrival in Nigeria, should contact NCDC on 0800-970000-10
Are health workers at risk of 2019-nCoV?
Yes. Transmission has occurred in health care facilities, including spread from patients to health care providers. WHO recommends that health care workers consistently apply appropriate infection prevention and control measures.
Is 2019-nCoV like SARS?
SARS is a coronavirus that was identified in 2003 and comes from the same family of coronaviruses as 2019-nCoV.
However, although both viruses can cause severe disease, current information indicates that they have key differences. Most importantly, 2019-nCoV does not appear to transmit easily between people whereas the SARS virus was much more transmissible.
What is WHO recommending that countries do?
WHO encourages all Member States to enhance their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns of SARI or pneumonia cases. WHO urges Member States to notify or verify to WHO any probable or confirmed case of infection with 2019-nCoV.
Note: This FAQ was developed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.