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Nigeria, with a population of some 200 million people, has a shortage of doctors and hospitals are often poorly maintained.
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, traveling through Lagos and visiting another state before being isolated.
The man works for cement company Lafarge Africa PLC in the southwestern state of Ogun, the company said in a statement.
The Ogun state governor, in a separate media briefing, said 28 people had been placed in quarantine by the company the man worked for, although he did not mention it by name.
The case, the first in sub-Saharan Africa, has prompted a scramble by Nigerian authorities to try to “meet and observe” all passengers who arrived on the same flight as the man and to identify the places he visited before being hospitalized.
“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 the capital, Abuja.
Authorities fear the virus could spread quickly in a region where health systems are already overburdened with cases of malaria, measles, Ebola and other deadly infectious diseases.
The Italian, whose country has been hit harder hit by the virus than any other in Europe, arrived on Feb. 24 on a Turkish Airlines flight that had a connection in Istanbul, said Lagos state commissioner for health, Akin Abayomi.
After spending the night in a hotel near the airport, he went on Feb. 25 to his place of work in neighboring Ogun state, and stayed there until he developed a fever and body aches on the afternoon of Feb. 26, Abayomi told a news conference.
He was then transferred to a high containment facility in Yaba, Lagos state.
Ehanire said the infection was confirmed on Feb. 27 by the Virology Laboratory of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital.