Nigerian authorities detected the case in Lagos, a city with 20 million inhabitants, two days after the patient arrived from Italy.
The patient is an Italian businessman who arrived in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, from Milan on Tuesday, February 25. The virology laboratory at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital confirmed the case after a diagnosis.
The patient is “clinically stable” and is undergoing treatment at a dedicated facility for infectious diseases, according to local authorities.
Authorities began working to identify and track down people who have had direct contact with the patient. Nigeria’s Center for Disease Control also activated a national emergency operation center to respond to any potential infections.
Health officials expressed their confidence in containing the virus, based on their experience from the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
Nigerian authorities issued public health warnings and are conducting specialized training for rapid response teams across the country. Health officials are also trying to improve their communication in order to inform the population and calm speculations about the disease.
Lagos, in southwestern Nigeria, is the largest city in Nigeria and in West Africa. It has a population of over 20 million. The city also boasts one of the largest and busiest seaports in the continent.
The confirmation of the first COVID-19 case in Sub-Saharan Africa has spread fear that the virus will cause a repeat of the 2014 Ebola outbreak that killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa. However, public health experts suggest that the countries previously affected by Ebola will now have increased knowledge on how to handle epidemics.
The new confirmed case also enlarges the area affected by the virus, currently covering almost the entire globe, with cases in Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Oceania, North Africa, and West Africa.
Since the outbreak started in December 2019, the virus has infected at least 83,000 people and claimed the lives of nearly 2,900 victims. Since the start of February, more than 36,000 patients have recovered from the virus.