COVID-19 is the disease caused by the new, highly infectious Coronavirus that was first detected in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. The disease has since rapidly spread across the world with more than 207,000 people being infected as of 18th March 2020 and 8,200 deaths.* Nigeria has recorded 8 cases of COVID-19 since its first confirmation on 27th February 2020.**
In order to keep safe and well, it is important to understand how the virus is spread. This occurs from person to person through contact with respiratory droplets, that is, the material that hangs in the air or lies on surfaces when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Common symptoms are shortness of breath, new and persistent cough and fever.
To avoid being infected, it is vital to take the following precautions:*
1. Frequent hand washing using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
2. Avoiding close contact with persons (social distancing) especially those who have a fever or are coughing or sneezing.
3. Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that people regularly touch.
As governments at all levels within Nigeria introduce, among other drastic measures, restrictions on mass gatherings, travel bans and closure of educational institutions, it is important to use and rely on credible, fact-based sources of public health information such as the NCDC.
In addition, regularly check the official websites and social media handles of respective State Governments for local updates.
We urge all in Nigeria to heed the public health warnings in order to avoid high mortality rates from COVID-19.
*John Hopkins University, www.hopkinsmedicine.org
** Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, www.ncdc.gov.ng