Nigerians on Twitter are concerned over a declaration by the Minister of Health that the country is ready for the coronavirus in terms of detection and response in case of its importation.
Minister Osagie Ehanire at a meeting broad-based in stakeholder forum in Abuja on Saturday said Africa’s most populous nation had the capacity to detect, assess and respond in case the virus finds its way into the country.
“While the risk of importation exists, we can assure Nigerians of the nation’s capacity to detect, assess and respond to this and any other public health threats at the point of entry.”
He also said the federal government had voted funds to increase services of the ministry’s Port Health Services Unit. He disclosed that government was in touch with 16 Nigerians in Wuhan, the epicenter of the epidemic in China’s Hubei province.
“There have been no confirmed cases in Africa but the potential has been clearly demonstrated,” he added. So far Kenya, Ethiopia and Ivory Coast have reported negative outcomes for suspected cases. Botswana is probing one such case.
For his part, the Information Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the government only had travel advisories to issue but cannot ban travels. “Right now, we are working together at an inter-ministerial level to be able to contain the epidemic.
“What we will do is to give travel advisories, that if it is not essential to travel to southeast China, do not make such trips. But you know it is very difficult to ban people from travelling,” he added.
But on social media, Nigerians are cautioning the Health Minister against the pronouncement. Whiles some are pointing him in the direction of prevailing diseases like malaria and lassa fever, others say he has no business making claims he knows to be untrue.
The Minister had some defenders amid the criticism. Those with the view cited how Nigeria battled Ebola when it arrived in the country years ago.
Please Coronavirus, don’t mind him. He’s playing https://t.co/yMNo6T0E3J— Parosident (@TheMbuhari) February 1, 2020
???…China is struggling with Coronavirus…Nigeria grabs the mic and coolly announces “we can handle it”…why are we like this? https://t.co/zNElbg6KGL— MAESTRO PETALS (@discas2001) February 2, 2020
I want to believe I didn’t read that correctly.— ELLA (@EmmanuellaIkot) February 2, 2020
We are still dealing with Malaria and lassa fever(which has been a cause of countless deaths in this country) in this country and you say we can handle coronavirus??
Please let us all behave in this country. https://t.co/Cj935EozwL
We can handle coronavirus – Health minister pic.twitter.com/pQwof0sJS3— Idris Muhammad Jos (@idrismjos) February 1, 2020
A lot of ppl quoting this tweet and guys at the comment thread are suffering from selected amnesia … We battled and won Ebola.. We can Fvcking handle coronavirus God forbid it hits this part of africa https://t.co/Gg3AMquO3l— Aunty Ola is Ola GF…Johnny Drille’s LOML ? (@ola_lagos) February 2, 2020
the coronavirus is jus a flu. it’s been around like ebola, aids, and allat. we can handle it. https://t.co/6IPWQ99k0i— ashdaMAC??♀️ (@ashiiimak) February 2, 2020
The minister could be right . We can handle anything including coronavirus if we set our minds to it without corruptions . This is Naija where the impossible is possible. Ah ah ah .— Stanley (@Stanley06254864) February 2, 2020
We handled Ebola, we surely can handle Coronavirus. Stop this hate. This is our country.— Mazi Olayinka Danladi (@a_rasaq) February 2, 2020