The federal government on Monday once again urged Nigerians who recently returned to the country from abroad to self isolate for 14 days even as Nigeria’s health minister claimed some of them are hiding.
The minister of health, Osagie Ehanire who made gave the directive in Abuja, said the need became pertinent as most of the confirmed cases of the virus in the country are from recently returned travellers.
According to the minister, it was an irresponsible act that some of the people who flew into the country are not abiding by the advisory, in the process, putting not only their immediate families in danger but everyone they come in contact with if they are infected.
Ehanire, who confirmed that a higher percentage of coronavirus cases in the country were imported, further noted that such persons would not know they are infected until the symptoms show or they get tested.
The minister, however, assured that health officials were intensifying contact tracing to identify and test those who might have been in contact with infected people.
He said, “The fight to contain Covid-19 is a call for collective action. Self-isolation is a social responsibility of every citizen and not that the government should enforce isolation
“We want to depend on the social responsibility of Nigerians. We have not gotten to that point of forced isolation but we have had to go after those who were known and observed that they were not observing the advisory.
“More restrictive measures may be implemented by the Federal Government in the coming days.”
“In less than 48 hours, the Italian who came to Nigeria (index case) was identified. The contacts we found from him were 179. They were all traced and monitored. Out of the 179, one was positive and put in isolation with the Italian. Both were cured and discharged.”
“If other cases had not come to Nigeria, that would have been the end of COVID19 in Nigeria. But other cases came in that were not part of the first one. That is why we are saying that you do not compare what we have now with what we have in China or Italy.
“If we do not act fast, we could be heading in something dangerous like that (in China and Italy). They now transmit among themselves.
“We have to get those who have been infected now. If we don’t, it may be a serious burden in the system. I am sure some are hiding, they will not report for whatever reason. Nobody will be arrested or asked to pay anything.
“Those who are returning now are Nigerians. With the closure of our airports, we will reduce inflow of new cases and deal with the ones we already have.”
Nigeria currently has 36 cases of the dreaded virus and reported its first death from covid-19 on Monday.