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COVID-19: Nigerian govt not prioritising economy over Nigerians – Minister

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Following reluctance to place a ban on travelers from countries with high burden of Coronavirus, COVID-19, infection, the Federal Ministry of Health, says it is not prioritising the Nigerian economy over the lives of Nigerians.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, made the clarification in Abuja on Friday, while addressing newsmen on the update of coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Mr Ehanire said that government would not place a travel ban on any country, including the ones with high burden of infection, neither would Nigeria place ban on any activity.

He said that Nigeria’s preparedness and response were focused on surveillance at all entry points, infection prevention and control, risk communication, laboratory diagnosis, case management and coordination.

The minister said there would be no need for restrictions, noting that the countries placing such bans were doing so in line with their situations and response levels.

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Mr Ehanire said that Nigeria’s situation and risk was low and would not require such measures.

He added that there was also a lot of self-restriction on travel and movements by Nigerians already, and government was monitoring closely.

On whether the country will ramp up preparedness and response following rapid spread across the globe, the minister said that government would continue to take measures to forestall waste or economic loss for the country.

“The situation decides measures; and for now, we do not want to take measures that are excessive and incur costs that will go to waste. We want to take measures that are tailor-made, and not create over-capacity,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Minister said that the second confirmed case of Covid-19, a contact of the Italian businessman, who tested positive on March 8, had now tested negative for the virus.

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“This means that he has been cleared of the virus and will be allowed to go home,” he said.

Mr nEhanire added that the index case, the Italian businessman however, was clinically stable and had improved, and would also be allowed to go in few days.

“As at today, March 13, Nigeria has recorded still just two cases of Covid-19 with no death.

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“One case is now negative and the index case is clinically stable, much improved, and will be discharged early next week,” Mr Ehanire said.

The minister further informed that all contacts of the index case in Ogun and Lagos would be allowed to go home and rejoin society after 14 days of follow up with no symptoms.

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Mr Ehanire noted that between Jan. 7 and March 12, a total of 42 people who met the case definition, had been screened for covid-19 in six states.

He listed the states as Edo, Lagos, Ogun, Yobe, Rivers, Kano and the FCT, out of which 40 tested negative, while two were confirmed positive.

He also informed that a group of four students and their teacher, who flew into Lagos from the U.S., had tested negative, but will still be in self isolation for 14 days.

The minister, however, said following declaration of the Covid-19 as a pandemic and increasing spread in some countries, the Nigerian government had begun a review of its own case definition.

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