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Coronavirus: Nigerian Weather, Alcohol Not Immune Agents –AKS Commissioner

...Assures A’Ibom Ready To Contain Coronavirus, Lassa Fever


By Ekemini Simon


The Commissioner for Health, Akwa Ibom State, Dr Dominic Ukpong, has warned against the belief in some quarters that the hot weather condition experienced in Nigeria will not allow the novel coronavirus survive in the country, thus place Nigerians immune to the virus.

Dr Ukpong equally described as unfounded and misleading the thought that intake of alcohol serves as antidote against the novel coronavirus.

The Commissioner for Health who made this known on Monday while addressing newsmen in Uyo, noted that if the thought that coronavirus does not survive in African hot weather condition is anything to come by, then Northern African countries would not have been affected by the novel coronavirus.

Dr Ukpong explained that for alcohol to be used as a base in the production of sanitizers does not simply suggest it can kill the novel coronavirus since other chemicals not worthy for consumption are added.

He stressed that anyone who relies on such thought without taking protective precautions puts self at risk.

The Commissioner assured that the State Government is well prepared and equipped to contain the novel coronavirus infectious disease including lassa fever, if eventually they break out in the State.

He noted that although there is no reported case of novel coronavirus in the State, the State had dealt with six suspected cases of Lassa fever which turned out to be negative after several tests were conducted.

Currently, there have been 195 confirmed cases of Lassa fever in 26 states of the Federation with total deaths increasing to 103.

RELATED: Health Nuggets: Coronavirus

For novel coronavirus, 60 countries in the world have been affected leading to the death of 2,933. Nigeria woke to the news of coronavirus in Lagos although the suspected case is reported to be stable.

While declaring Akwa Ibom State currently free of the novel corona and Lassa fever, the Commissioner for Health noted that the State is combat-ready in preparation of any outbreak of the virus.

Dr Ukpong offered insight to the fact that the State in readiness for any outbreak had called for volunteers, set up a task force committee for the prevention and control of the infectious diseases.

He stated that the Ministry had met with all the authorities that work at all entry points into the State to be on high alert against anyone with suspected case of any of the diseases.

The Commissioner noted: “We started by meeting with the Chairman, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Committee on Health. We had meeting with him, we had meeting with churches through Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN) for awareness.

“As you know, we are 99 per cent Christians. We also had a presentation and meeting with the management of Victor Attah International Airport, knowing that those who may possibly be infected with novel coronavirus will come in through there.

“We have beefed up security. We will use all the resources available to work against possible outbreak. So, we call on all Akwa Ibom people and residents to cooperate with authorities during strict checks.”

The Commissioner said the State government has powered Centres for Infectious Diseases and Control across the State, making them convenient for possible suspected cases with high level of security personnel available at those centres.

He said in newly built or refurbished hospitals, the State government has constructed emergency operation centre of four wards and sewage system.

Dr Ukpong pointed out that in hospitals across the State, the State government has made provision for a lot of personal protective system with sanitizers.

He said the Ministry of Health has put in place a Sub-committee on Decontamination and Burial in case anyone dies from any of those diseases, hence prevent further outbreak.

Dr Ukpong added, “When anybody dies, the virus multiplies and becomes more infectious. Government makes arrangement that anybody who dies, there will be no ceremony. We will move the body to the grave. We will however brief the family, sympathize with them but bury them at our own cost.

“We also have a special ambulance for that purpose. We don’t use it for any other purpose. The committee will also decontaminate the room the person stayed.”

He noted that a contact committee has also been set up to check all the persons a suspected individual may have contacted with mechanism for strict follow-up.

Commenting on the symptoms of Lassa fever, Dr Ukpong said 80 per cent of persons infected do not show signs or symptoms of the disease until it reaches advanced stage.

He noted that by the time symptoms manifest, which is usually between six to 21 days, one will begin to experience weakness, headache, cough and diarrhoea.

Dr Ukpong added, “When it becomes severe, it may lead to facial swelling, internal bleeding, bleeding through the anus, eyes and private parts. This is an indicator that death is knocking. At the initial stage, people might think it is malaria. It is easy to confuse Lassa fever with malaria. So they go to chemist shop and buy medication.”

The Commissioner stressed that currently, there are no vaccines for cure.
Commenting on novel coronavirus, Dr Ukpong offered insight to the fact that the virus stays in one body for two weeks without symptom, even as it can survive on surfaces up to five days.

He added, “This post a lot of challenges to us. Surviving on the surfaces for days means that rails on staircases are possible sources of contamination.

“The mode of transmission has to do with personal hygiene. The incubation period is 14 days. However, it can extend more than 14 days. The symptoms include running nose, cough, fever and sneezing.

“There is similarity with that of SARS. People who are immune suppressed like those suffering from HIV, cancer, can experience worsening symptoms. For such persons, there is a likelihood that you may not survive.”

The Commissioner advised that anyone who experiences the symptoms should go to the nearest hospital for checks.

He warned pharmaceutical stores to desist from giving drugs without doctors’ prescription, especially to persons with symptoms of the virus, stressing that anyone caught will face the weight of the law.

Dr Ukpong said the telephone numbers to reach out to in order to report suspected cases are: 09023330092, 08037934966, 08028442194.

He said when called, they will come and pick up such patients without revealing the source of the information.

While offering advice for preventive measures, the Commissioner said personal hygiene is the key.
He noted, “Wash your hands frequently with soup and running water. Do not use common towel in guest room or after washing your hands. Use tissue paper to dry it.

“Wear protective mask, especially in public transportation, to avoid being infected through cough or sneeze.
“For Lassa, cover your food properly. Do not eat rats or touch dead rats. Do not eat rabbits too. They are from the same family. Stop eating snakes too. They have coronavirus in them.

“Carry sanitizers to always sanitize your hands. It will be a course of wisdom to change your style of greetings. When we follow these precautions, we are less likely to be infected. Also call your family members and discuss the preventive measures with them.”

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