By Sharon Atieno

Nigerian officials today confirmed the first positive case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country. This is the third case in the African region and the first in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The health ministry reported that the patient was an Italian citizen who returned to Lagos on 25th February 2020, after visiting Milan.

According to the statement by the Nigerian health minister, the patient was clinically stable and did not have serious symptoms; and was being treated at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.

Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Nigerian Minister of Health says that the multi-sectoral Coronavirus Preparedness Group 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.

“We have been beefing up our preparedness capabilities since the first confirmation of cases in China, and we will use all the resources made available by the government to respond to this case,” he said.

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and lack of proper handling of the case would spell doom for not only its population but the entire African continent. This is the third case of COVID-19 after two cases were confirmed in Egypt and Algeria.

The COVID-19 cases outside China now accounts for three-quarters of new infections, according to World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“All nations should prepare themselves for potential pandemic,” he cautioned.

In only 24 hours, about 12 countries have reported first virus cases.

WHO estimates that outside China, further 46 countries have been infected with 3,700 cases and 57 deaths having been reported so far.