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COVID-19 VIRUS: WAHO, Regional Health Ministers Call for Collective Response
Professor Okolo (R) and Minister Mamora during the briefing

Abuja, 17th February, 2020. The West African Health Organisation (WAHO) as well as the Ministers of Health of ECOWAS Member States are on top of the situation regarding the containment of the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) epidemic.

At a joint press briefing on the regional preparedness for the Covid-19 virus on the 17th of February in Abuja, Nigeria, the Director-General of WAHO Professor Stanley Okolo and Nigeria’s Minister of State for Health, Senator Olurunnimbe Mamora called for collective action on the part of all stakeholders and the generality of West African citizens in the prevention, containment and sustainable responses to the epidemic.

Tracing the origin, nature and prevalence of the virus, Professor Okolo noted that useful lessons have been learnt from the earlier Ebola Virus incident leading to the establishment of the Ebola Fund.

Professor Okolo maintained in this regard, that all community citizens are stakeholders in the matter which should be of concern to everyone as against the perception that it is government’s business. This, he stressed, necessitates sustained communication to guarantee the safety of citizens in the region.

According to the WAHO Director-General, there is a high need for accurate and timely information on the nature, manner of spread, incubation period, appropriate or safe behaviour of citizens and holistic ways of containing Covid-19 even as the regional health organisation is monitoring the situation in case the virus mutates.

Professor Okolo who made a presentation during the briefing with emerging facts and statistics, also provided details of the global and regional picture of the spread of the virus, including Africa’s first reported case which occurred in Egypt, days ago.

Calling for everyone’s support, WAHO’s Director-General did not fail to admit that all hands must be on the plough in order to guarantee resounding success in the fight against Covid-19 virus.

The epidemiological situation report from the slides given by Professor Okolo shows that so far, there are 69, 267 total cases of the Covid-19. Of this number, there has been 1669 total deaths-99 percent in China. No fewer than 25 other countries have 767 reported cases.

A section of the media during the briefing

Importantly, 5 West African countries have persons under investigation. Five other countries also in the region-Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Senegal have laboratory diagnosis capacity for Covid-19 with TIBMOLBIOL kits
Laying bare the line of action by the ECOWAS ministers of health after their recent emergency meeting in Bamako, Mali, Nigeria’s minister of State for Health Senator Olurunnimbe Mamorra stressed that the urgency of the Covid-19 situation has necessitated the formulation of strategies by the regional ministers of Health, to protect the population of the region.

He highlighted some of the strategies to include strengthening the coordination, communication and collaboration among member States in preparedness for the Covid-19 epidemic including cross-border collaboration as well as the enhancement of surveillance and management measures at the air, land and sea entry points of the region.

He disclosed further that the Ministers also decided to urgently strengthen critical national capacities for the diagnosis and management of cases that may arise as well as the development of strategic regional preparedness plan based on Member States’ priorities for governments, partners and the private sector support.

Senator Mamora also disclosed that his colleagues had resolved to work closely with the relevant authorities of National Governments and the Chinese government to monitor and assure the health situation of West African citizens in China.

Both Professor Okolo and Senator Mamora also fielded questions from journalists regarding preparedness both for what is envisaged and eventualities. Clarifications were also made concerning available funds for curtailment, coordination among ECOWAS’ Member States for responses, among others.

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