Stakeholders in the maritime sector are on the alert following the spread of the deadly Coronavirus to Cote d’Ivoire, a neighbouring country to Nigeria.
The Zonal Coordinator, Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders, Dr. Osita Chukwu, called on the government to intensify measures at the seaports aimed at preventing the spread of the virus to Nigeria.
Chukwu said, "Already we are battling 200 cases of Lassa fever, we need to do everything to prevent the virus from entering Nigeria because we don't have health systems that can contain such epidemic.
"I would advise that every vessel calling at Nigeria be properly screened before it approaches berth. There should be an emergency boat service stationed at sea for this purpose."
Also, the President-General, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, Adewale Adeyanju, advised the Nigerian Immigration Service and the Port Health Service to be on their toes and approach vessels with utmost caution.
He said that the union was embarking on the sensitisation of its seafarers and dockworkers on the Coronavirus and how to protect themselves.
Coronavirus is a large group of viruses that are common among animals, according to the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
In rare cases, they are what scientists call zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted from animals to humans. The viruses can make people sick, usually with a mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illness, similar to a common cold.
Symptoms include runny nose, cough, sore throat, and infected persons may have headaches and maybe a fever, which can last for a couple of days.
The West Africa Health Organisation, WAHO, on Monday, warned countries in the region to intensify thermal camera surveillance on international borders; saying a suspected case of the new coronavirus infection had been detected on arrival at Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast.
WAHO, in a statement by Stanley Okoro, its Director-General, said though the patient had been isolated for more confirmatory tests, collaboration among ECOWAS member states remained critical to containing the spread of the disease in West Africa.
As of 27 January 2020, about 3000 cases of the Virus which was initially detected in China, had been confirmed across the world.
Also, the Port Health Services of the Federal Ministry of Health has stated that the nation’s ports are all on red alert.
The agency said once there was any sign of the virus in any Nigerian ports, the Center for Disease Control would be immediately alerted.