Coronavirus: Why we cannot detect patients at airport – Commissioner

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Says scores under watch in Lagos, Ogun States

From Left. Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi; Gov. Babajide Sanwo-olu of Lagos State and Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, during the News Conference on the First Confirmed case of Corona Virus in Lagos

Following panic that greeted the announcement of the first index case of dreaded Coronavirus in Lagos on Thursday, a fresh indication has emerged why patients contacted with the virus cannot be detected at the airport.

This is coming even as scores of people believed to have been in contact with the patient are currently under strict surveillance and watch at various health facilities.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, made this disclosure in the presence of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Friday, while briefing the media on the update of COVID-19 patient in the state, at Lagos House, Marina, Lagos.

While urging citizens and residents not to panic, Sanwo-Olu, as the incident Commander, with the commissioner, said, the patient, who has been quarantined in Centre for Disease Control in Yaba, “is in stable condition and undergoing a molecular test to really confirm if he is positive to COVID 19.”

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The governor said tracking mechanisms have been activated with the support of relevant authorities to identify possible contacts with the patients.

The commissioner, however, explained that a number of staff in the company where the patient is working, Larfarge Cement, Ewekoro, in Ogun State and the two hotels where he lodged on arrival in both states were under surveillance and necessary tests.

It was gathered that the patient since arrival must have had contact with about 20 people before he developed the symptoms.

While responding to questions from Journalists on how many number of identified contacts so far, Abayomi, who was not specific, said, ” We don’t want to create any panic among the people that is why we are pushing this information out to assure citizens on the need to be calm.

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“You know, it takes awhile to conduct and determine if a person is positive. Also, to track contacts it will take at least four hours. Our incident command is very active. So there us no delay.

“We are in touch with all the partners involved and they are giving us all the necessary support. Lagos is under control and government is determined to ensure Lagos is disease free.”

Why patient may not be detected at airport

The commissioner, while also responding to the question on how the patient was not detected and taken to isolation on arrival at the airport considering the level of preparedness in place, Abayomi, said,”At the moment, most countries conduct screening of passengers before leaving a particular country. And its possible not to detect patient because symptoms may not manifest at that stage.

“Except, the patient volunteer to have the symptoms, we can then quarantine and conduct tests, otherwise, he will go into the society and mix.

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“It is only when the level of escalation gets to person to persons, that is when we can say it has reached panic stage. Then, we can trigger the next level of medical intervention.

“At the moment, we are reaching possible contacts, such as staff of the company where he works as well as both the guest house and hotel he lodged on arrival.

“We are tracking contact persons from his arrival at the airport, the airline, co-travellers.

“We have placed these people under close surveillance for the next 14 days gestation period to really determine they are not positive and to break circle of transmission.

“It is our responsibility to continue with our surveillance, in collaboration with international organizations. Once, a person is captured or suspected to have the disease on our track, the next thing is to keep monitoring the patient. And that is what we are doing in this case.”

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