Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has broken his silence amid public panic prompted by the confirmation of the country’s first case of coronavirus.
The patient is an Italian citizen who works in Nigeria and flew into the commercial capital of Lagos from Milan last week. Authorities say he is clinically stable and is being treated at a hospital in the city.
It was the first confirmed case of coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa. Algeria and Egypt have also confirmed cases of the virus.
Globally, almost 90,000 people in 60 countries have been infected. More than 3,000 have died, the vast majority in China’s Hubei province.
Mr Buhari has urged citizens to “refrain from panic” adding that “undue alarm would cause more harm than good”.
A statement from his office praised the Ministry of Health, the Centre for Disease Control and state governments for their response after the first case was confirmed on Friday.
The health ministry said that it had activated its response programme to ensure any outbreak of the virus is “controlled and contained quickly”.
The ministry said that so far all the people who were in contact with the Italian citizen have been contacted.
Mr Buhari told Nigerians only to trust information provided by the government and the World Health Organization and to follow their advice to prevent transmission.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) will publish daily reports with updates on any coronavirus cases and the response, he said.
The centre tweeted its first report on Sunday night:
The first situation report for #COVID19Nigeria has been published.
A daily national situation report will be published with a summary of the epidemiological situation and response activities in the country.
— NCDC (@NCDCgov) March 1, 2020