The Federal Government has warned that Nigeria may be heading the way of China and Italy- the two countries worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic, if those who had contracted the virus are hiding and does not submit themselves for treatment.
Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, gave the warning on Monday, while giving update on COVID-19 situation in the country in Abuja.
Ehanire said 179 persons had contact with the Italian who brought the first case of coronavirus to Nigeria.
The minister said although new cases being recorded were Nigerians who were returning from countries with high burden of the virus, it may become a burden on the system if those who had contracted the virus already were not fished out and treated.
He said: “In less than 48 hours, the Italian who came to Nigeria (index case) was identified. The contacts we found for 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 COVID-19 in Nigeria, but other cases came 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 they 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.”
As of Sunday, China had recorded 81,093 cases and 3,270 deaths, while 63,927 people had been infected in Italy, which had recorded 6,077 deaths.