Nigerian universities on red alert over Coronavirus

Following the discovery of a case of the fast-spreading Coronavirus disease, otherwise known as COVID-19, in Nigeria, some universities have been placed on red alert by their managements and government authorities respectively.

Nigerians woke up to the news of the first recorded case early on Friday, following confirmation from the Lagos State Government.

But in their responses to the latest development, officials of Lagos State, Osun State, as well as vice-chancellors of some universities have told PREMIUM TIMES measures being taken to avert the spread of the case.

The vice-chancellor of Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, Olanrewaju Fagbohun, said he had just instructed appropriate officials including his deputies and the director of the health services to step up the already existing campaigns and provide sanitisers across offices and classrooms.

He, however, noted that as much as the university is committed to putting necessary preventive measures in place, it would not like to create panic among the people.

He said; “In fact, I just gave instructions this morning for director health services to have a meeting with the DVCs and registrar to alert staff and students on the preventive measures. We are also buying hand sanitisers, hand washing facilities for the offices and classrooms. We want to bring it to people’s consciousness, but also do not want to create a panic.

“With our respective large population of staff and students, we must not leave anything to chance. Our director of health services will also be on LASU Radio this morning and afternoon.”

In a similar development, Mr Fagbohun’s counterpart at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Akoka, Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, said the existing sensitisation activities are already being strengthened as a precautionary measure.

Mr Ogundipe, who was in Abuja on Friday morning, said he was already on his way back to the university and that he would be meeting the institution’s health officials at both the main campus and its medical school, to enhance the efforts.

Mr Ogundipe, whose university’s teaching hospital discovered the identified case in Nigeria, said the institution would benefit from the experiences of its capable hands.

The university is currently preparing for its 2020 convocation with a briefing scheduled to hold on Monday towards unveiling the activities.

“I’m just on my way back to the university, and I can assure you that we will join hands with appropriate authorities including government agencies and individual organisations to protect not only our campuses but the host communities,” Mr Ogundipe said.

Also, the spokesman at the University of Ilorin, Kwara State, Kunle Akogun, said the university is on red alert and urges everyone to be careful and follow instructions aimed at protecting them.

In Lagos State, the immediate past public relations officer of the ministry of education, Kayode Sutton, said even before he handed over to the ministry’s new spokesman on Wednesday, public places across the state had been placed on red alert.

Mr Sutton said the schools, in particular, have always been the first point of call for such campaigns, and that the awareness being carried out are simply for reintroduction of safety measures put in place during the Ebola crisis.

The commissioner for health in Osun State, Rafiu Isamotu, said his ministry in partnership with others have collaborated successfully to enlighten the public on the dangers posed by both Lassa fever, coronavirus and other communicable diseases.

He said the state has reactivated its first responder strategies, and that schools are well captured in their efforts.

Mr Isamotu said; “Initially when I heard the Lagos suspected case tested negative I was very happy. But this news is a sad one.

“However, we cannot fold our arms. As soon as I get to the office this morning there will still be a meeting with the commissioner for education, Mr Folorunsho Bamisayemi, among others, to further consider ways to strengthen our campaign in public places including schools.”

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