The Federal Ministry of Health has confirmed a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) case in Lagos State, Nigeria.

A statement issued by the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, in the early hours of Friday said the case, which was confirmed on February 27, was the first case to be reported in Nigeria since the beginning of the outbreak in China in January 2020.

The statement said, “the case is an Italian citizen who works in Nigeria and returned from Milan, Italy to Lagos, Nigeria on the 25th of February 2020.

He was confirmed by the Virology Laboratory of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, part of the Laboratory Network of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control. The patient is clinically stable, with no serious symptoms, and is being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.”

Noting that the government of Nigeria, through the Federal Ministry of Health has been strengthening measures to ensure an outbreak in Nigeria is controlled and contained quickly, it said “the multi-sectoral Coronavirus Preparedness Group led by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has immediately activated its national Emergency Operations Centre and will work closely with Lagos State Health authorities to respond to this case and implement firm control measures.”

The minister however reassured all Nigerians that government had been beefing up preparedness capabilities since the first confirmation of cases in China, and will use all the resources made available by the government to respond to the confirmed case.

Ehanire said Citizens must not abuse social media and indulge in spreading misinformation that causes fear and panic, adding that the Federal Ministry of Health, through Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, will continue to provide updates and will initiate all measures required to prevent the spread of any outbreak in Nigeria.

He further said, “We have already started working to identify all the contacts of the patient, since he entered Nigeria. Please be reminded that most people who become infected may experience only mild illness and recover easily, but it can be more severe in others, particularly the elderly and persons with other underlying chronic illness.”

With the confirmed case in Lagos, Nigeria becomes the third African country to record a case of the deadly virus. Egypt and Algeria had earlier reported cases of the virus in their countries.

The new coronavirus has spread to all the continents of the world except the Antarctica, with 82,000 cases in 48 countries. Italy, with the largest outbreak outside Asia, has 650 cases as of Thursday night – up from 400 a day earlier – with 17 deaths. China however remains the worst hit with 78,000 cases and 2,747 deaths. 32,531 of those infected by the virus have recovered so far.

The minister urged all Nigerians to take care of their health and maintain hand and respiratory hygiene to protect themselves and others, including their own families, following the precautions below:

1. Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water, and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

2. Maintain at least 1 & half metres (5 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

3. Persons with persistent cough or sneezing should stay home or keep a social distance, but not mix in crowd.

4. Make sure you and people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene, meaning cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or into your sleeve at the bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.

5. Stay home if you feel unwell with symptoms like fever, cough and difficulty in breathing. Please call NCDC toll free number which is available day and night, for guidance- 0800-970000-10. Do not engage in self-medication

6. Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19 through official channels on TV and Radio, including the Lagos State Ministry of Health, NCDC and Federal Ministry of Health.