AS the world grapples with the most recent form of pestilence called Coronavirus or COVID-19, former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Professor of Pharmacognosy, Prof. Maurice Iwu, has said not only has Nigeria discovered the cure for the Wuhan coronavirus or COVID 19 but the discovery has been since 2015.
He said his research group had identified and patented a possible treatment for coronavirus as far back as 2015 because of the importance of remaining ahead of emergent infections through research.
He said the drug discovery project started at the University of Nigeria Nsukka and continued in America when he was a visiting scholar at the Division of Experimental Therapeutics of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington DC.
Prof. Iwu further said his research had in 2014 also discovered an experimental lead compound that was identified 15 years earlier in 1999. He briefed the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu.
“It is very important that we must remain ahead of these emergent infections through research. The other aspect of our work targets the so-called orphan diseases that are rare diseases that affect fewer than 200,000 people, or disease that has not been adopted by the pharmaceutical industry because it provides little financial incentives for the private sector to make and market new medications to treat or prevent them, and/or diseases that affect mainly the poor.
“The drug discovery project was started at the University of Nigeria Nsukka where I was a Professor of Pharmacognosy and continued in America when I was a visiting Scholar at the Division of Experimental Therapeutics of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington DC USA (1994 -2003).
“Coronavirus (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome -Coronavirus) our approach is the use of a network of eminent scientists and leading laboratories to target particular diseases, especially neglected tropical, emergent diseases and orphan diseases such as Ebola virus and Dengue Fever, among others.”
Onu commended Prof. Iwu for his discovery and said it was a welcome development, adding that no single Nigerian life should be lost to COVID 19.
Kano Health Commissioner accuses airlines
KANO State Commissioner of Health, Aminu Ibrahim Tsanyawa yesterday expressed concern over the non-compliance by some foreign airlines at the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) to comply with proper screening of passengers entering the country through the airport.
Tsanyawa lamented that the foreign airlines have refused to issue screening forms that will identify the details of the health conditions of passengers, as Nigeria battles to contend with COVID-19.
Tsanyawa, who assured reporters that Kano was calm and has not recorded any incident of Coronavirus so far, said Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje’s administration has put everything in place to stop the spread of the virus in the state.
He mentioned some of the precautionary steps taken by the state government to include conduct of state Emergency Preparedness and Response Committee meeting, development of Incident Action Plan, activation of the state Isolation Centre at Yar-gaya.
Tsanyawa further stated that Kano State government has planned to further intensify COVID-19 surveillance in the state through engagement of traditional and religious institutions.
“Some of the precautions taken by Kano State include training of health personnel in tertiary, secondary and primary health care facilities, production and airing of jingles and production and distribution of IEC materials, among other measures.”
58 under supervised self-isolation
…as four test negative in Plateau
Following the first confirmed case of coronavirus disease in Lagos State, the Federal Government has revealed that as at March 1, there is no new confirmed case in the country.
Out of about 14 tests that were carried out, only the Italian citizen who works as a consultant in Nigeria, from Milan, Italy, tested positive to the disease.
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said the number of identified contacts of the index case in Lagos and Ogun states are 19 and 39 respectively. This makes a total of 58 people who have had contact with the index case under supervised self-isolation.
“Currently, the contacts of the index case are identified as 19 contacts in Lagos and 39 contacts in Ogun State. Both Ogun and Lagos states have activated their emergency operations centre (EOCs).
“As at March 1, there is no new confirmed case in Nigeria. About 14 tests have been done, and except that one patient, no other person has been diagnosed.
“We have also deployed rapid response teams from the NCDC who are working closely with all the states. It is important that all Nigerians focus on the facts not fear and not to generate panic.
“The condition of the patient in Lagos is good and information from doctors particularly handling him is that his condition appears to be the mild one.”
“For those who have serious illness such as cough and catarrh, and have to do an examination, I can understand that such a person is given masks. Anyone with chronic cough and catarrh must see a doctor and stay home.
Lassa fever response team for UNILORIN
The University of Ilorin has said it is establishing a Disease Outbreak Response Team, tagged: ‘UNILORIN DORT’, to address the challenges of deadly diseases.
Prof. Olatunji Kolawole, the Director of the Institute of Molecular Science and Biotechnology of the university stated this in a statement.
He stated that this is in response to the global threat, which the recent outbreak of Lassa fever and COVID-19 represents to the well-being of the nation.
Kolawole stated that the response team would be constituted by professionals from relevant fields and units.
He revealed that the Unilorin DORT would also work in affiliation with the Kwara State Epidemiology Unit and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
According to him, the duties of the response team will include ensuring preventive measures and diagnostic services to ensure that the infectious diseases are eradicated from our society as part of the university’s contributions to human development.
Create awareness in local, pidgin languages
CHRISTIAN Empowerment Forum, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), has urged the media to disseminate information on Coronavirus (COVID-19) in local languages, especially Pidgin English and other major languages.
Mr Ifunnaya Ogbonnaya, the Executive Director of the group, said this in a statement issued in Abuja, following the recent report of the virus in Lagos.
Ogbonnaya said spreading information on the signs and symptoms, dangers and prevention measures to adopt against the virus would help in the fight against the killer disease.
According to him, the preventive measures to adopt against the virus should not be left to only the elite in society, but should also be made to reach all nook and cranny.
Ogbonnaya advised parents and guardians to educate their children and wards on the virus, its signs, symptoms and prevention measures.
He said the job of creating awareness and preventing the spread of the virus could not be left alone to the government.
“Everyone has a role to play in this fight; from the media to parents and guardians, school authorities, religious bodies, medical outlets and hospitals and both private and public job institutes and establishments.
“If everyone plays their part effectively, we may just be recording the first and the last case of the virus in Nigeria,” he said.
He advised every citizen to follow and adopt all prescribed preventive measures by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and medical experts.
Reps member urges Ajegunle residents on hygiene
A MEMBER representing Ajeromi Ifelodun Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives Taiwo Kolawole, has urged Lagos residents to maintain proper hygiene and eat more fruits and vegetables to boost their immunity against Coronavirus.
Kolawole, who said this yesterday in Lagos noted that eating fruits, vegetables and maintaining good and proper hygiene could also help in defeating the deadly virus.
“With the strange virus in the country, I appeal to our people to be calm. We have experienced it once when a foreigner came to the country with similar case of virus and it was defeated totally.
“That is why we advise people to be conscious of environmental sanitation, maintain good hygiene by washing their hands regularly and eat balanced diet to strengthen their immunity,” he said.
NMA tasks govts on awareness
THE Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), has urged the three tiers of government to intensify public awareness on COVID-19 in order to curtail its spread.
Dr Saliu Oseni, Chairman of Lagos NMA, made the appeal in Lagos.
Oseni said efforts should be made towards increasing sensitisation on universal precaution among health workers and the public with emphasis on frequent hand washing.
According to him, sensitisation should be increased, especially at the local level to ensure that every citizen is made aware of the symptoms of the disease and measures to take to stay safe.
He noted that intensified awareness would help to reduce the risk of exposure to people coughing; stressing that collaborative effort was needed to contain the virus.
Oseni urged the government to ensure constant and adequate supply of gloves, face masks and hand sanitisers at hospitals to protect health workers.
He also urged the government to play its part at ensuring contact tracing of all those that had contact with the index, while calling for increased surveillance nation-wide.
Lagos Assembly urges Sanwo-Olu on sensitisation
The Lagos State House of Assembly has urged Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to ensure proper sensitisation of residents of the state about the dreaded Coronavirus.
The issue was raised under Matter of Urgent Public Importance at plenary on Monday by Hon. Akeem Shokunle (Oshodi/Isolo 1).
Shokunle, who is the Chairman House Committee on Health, stated that it was important that the governor sensitise the residents to the matter and implement the law passed by the 8th Assembly on cancer and disease control institute.
Sanwo-Olu was also urged to direct the Commissioner for Education to do proper awareness on Coronavirus in all public and private schools.
Speaker Mudashiru Obasa, who thanked members for their contributions to the matter, stated that issue of placing a ban on airlines from the countries affected by Coronavirus had to be re-considered due to the economic consequences.
“The Federal Government and Lagos State government are working hand in hand to curb the spread of Coronavirus.
“We should commend our State Governor for his efforts on the matter. But, we should call on the Governor to implement the provision of the law on Centre for Cancer and Diseases Control, which was passed by the 8th Assembly,” he said.
Obasa stressed that the state government needed to reach out to many organisations, including the local government authorities, CDAs, CDCs, NURTW and others to educate them so that they could pass information to the people. He advised that people can stop going to mosques, churches and parties for now.
“We should wear mask or wash our hands. We can use handkerchiefs when we go to gatherings.
“The Commissioner for Education should ensure adequate campaigns in our public and private schools,” he said.