China’s COVID-19 surge: Why Nigeria needs border surveillance, vigilance —Experts

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Health experts have told Nigerians to be careful and stay aware of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, which is still going on.

They cautioned Nigerians against discarding COVID-19 preventive measures, particularly, in this festive season when more foreign travelers are likely to come back home from their various bases abroad.

The experts also urged the Nigerian government to consider border surveillance to prevent the importation of new variants of the viral infection.

According to the experts, following the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in China, Nigerians, especially the elderly and immunocompromised, need to adhere to COVID-19 rules as incoming travelers that they may be interacting with during this period may have mixed with other passengers who may unknowingly be carrying the virus.

Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, the experts, the Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Prof. Babatunde Salako, and Professor of Virology at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Sunday Omilabu, say despite the relaxing of the COVID-19 protocol in Nigeria for both citizens and foreign travelers, Nigerians still need to take protection against viral infections seriously with the surge of COVID-19 in China.

It could be recalled that following the reports of a surge of cases of COVID-19 in China, the Federal Government, through the Coordinator of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Dr. Muktar Muhammed, said Nigeria was not yet considering imposing mandatory COVID-19 testing or restrictions on travelers from China until there was a need for it.

However, according to a report published by La Repubblica, an Italian daily general-interest newspaper, on December 26, a flight that came from China into Milan’s Malpensa Airport reported that 52 percent of passengers on board tested positive for COVID-19. Italy is now one of the European countries that have imposed COVID-19 restrictions on flights from China.

As reported by Reuters, the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, said preliminary tests showed that COVID-positive travelers from China had known omicron variants.

Other countries that have taken measures to prevent the importation of COVID-19 from China by implementing border control on incoming travelers entering their countries include the United States, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea.

Prof. Salako, who is also the CEO of NIMR, said there should be border surveillance, especially for people coming from areas reporting new COVID-19 cases.

He said, “I believe that as a nation we must continue to do surveillance of people who come in to see and determine almost immediately when a case enters the country so we can prevent the spread of the disease as usual.

“Perhaps we also need to pay particular attention to those countries that are still being ravaged by COVID-19, or anybody who transits through those countries to come to Nigeria, and then pay particular attention to them.”

PUNCH

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