An Italian man who has been confirmed as Nigeria’s first coronavirus case after arriving from Milan was in the country for almost two full days before being isolated, travelled through Lagos and visited another state.
The case has prompted a scramble by authorities in Africa’s most populous country to try to “meet and observe” all who arrived on the same flight as the Italian and to identify the places he visited before going to the hospital.
“We have started working to identify all the contacts of the person since he entered Nigeria and even those who were with him on the aircraft,” Health Minister Osagie Ehanire told reporters on Friday in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.
The Italian, whose country has been hit worse by the virus than any other in Europe, arrived on Feb. 24 on a Turkish Airlines flight that had a connection in Istanbul, Lagos state Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, told a news conference.
After spending the night in a hotel near the airport, he went on Feb. 25 to his place of work in neighbouring Ogun state, and stayed there until he developed a fever and body aches on the afternoon of Feb. 26, Abayomi said.
Health practitioners with his company then contacted biosecurity authorities who transferred him to the high containment facility in Yaba, Lagos state.
“It was very astute of the medical practitioners in that facility to keep him overnight in an isolated environment,” Abayomi said.
Ehanire said the infection was confirmed on Feb. 27 by the Virology Laboratory of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, part of the Laboratory Network of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, and that the man is now quarantined but doing well.
His case is also the first confirmed coronavirus case in sub-Saharan Africa.
Turkish Airlines did not immediately comment on the case. There are no confirmed cases in Turkey.