In fulfilling the University’s commitment of complementing the effort of the Government to stem the spread of pandemic COVID-19 disease in the State, Nigeria and the entire world, the management of Osun State University recently kick-started a sensitization campaign to enlighten the general public on the disease and to assist the government in making the best decisions and policies that will favour the citizens.
It will be recalled that the University started its campaign with an enlightenment programme with the theme “A bird’s eye view into an intriguing pandemic in the month of March, followed by an educative programme in the media, on how people can stay safe to avoid the spread of the disease. The University also launched an online forecasting model that will predict the trends of the transmission daily, subject to some conditions.
Speaking on the sensitization campaign, Dr Waidi Folorunsho Sule of the Department of Microbiology of the University said, “The entire world has come to face the reality of COVID-19 pandemic (caused by SARS-CoV-2). This scourge still accelerates its ravages on our world, threatening human existence. Osun state in Nigeria has had its own share of it, though I must say that we have had few reported cases recently. ‘Kudos’ to the State Government that initially tried to prevent it from entering the state, but it has found its way in. Nevertheless, the Government is still winningly fighting hard to limit the spread, and treating affected persons.
Below are the basic hints on the biology epidemiology of the SARS-Cov-2 for better understanding:
SARS-CoV-2 virion has lipid envelope: this implies it is susceptible to denaturation by detergents, alcohol, chloroform (basis for using soap and water for regular hand washing, and use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers).
Genetic diversity of SARS-CoVs: As RNA virus with extra-human hosts for some, they have ability to mutate and recombine among themselves; these resulted in about 8 variants presently known worldwide. Some of these cause mild to moderate diseases; others are very harmful/deadly as the presently circulating SARS-CoV-2.
Transmission of SARS-CoV-2: this virus spread via respiratory droplets and contaminate surfaces (basis for recommending physical distancing of 2 meters between persons and no handshaking for now). There is now speculation of air-borne or aerosol transmission as the virus has been reported to survive up to 8 hours in the air and on surfaces.
Epidemiology of COVID-19: it is a respiratory illness; though COVID-19 has lower case-fatality rate (2.3%) compared to SARS-CoV (~10%) and MERS-CoV (34.4%), it spreads faster than the two of them; this means it has higher transmission rate (hence the need for urgent actions) (Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia Emergency Response Epidemiology Team, 2020; Chan-Yeung and Xu, 2003; www.who.int).
Having highlighted some basic hints on the biology epidemiology of the SARS-Cov-2, let us quickly share the infection prevention control of the SARS-Cov-2.
At this stage, as being currently done, infection prevention and control remain the best options for the state, but with special attention to certain areas. These are briefly highlighted hereunder:
- In order to know where and to which local population(s) to deploy preventive measures, thereku is a need to widen/expand testing for the coronaviral infection. It is hereby suggested, as a matter of imperative, that locations for testing be extended to all the major towns in the state of Osun. This may mean increasing the capacity for testing in terms of healthcare personnel and test kits. To lessen the cost and turnaround time, there are rapid serologic (SARS-CoV-2 IgM/IgG) test kits that can be purchased from abroad, validated for local use, to complement testing efforts.
- It will not be too much, at this time, to station health care workers (HCWs) at all land borders of Osun State, to test passengers/drivers/riders with the above stated rapid test kits to identify asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infected persons. This would enable timely identification of victims (and initiate prompt contact tracing) for necessary care and control measures to prevent further spread.
- Preventing SARS-CoV-2 spread to and from HCWs who are in the forefront of care, as well as, the COVID-19 victims relies on effective use of personal protective equipment (PPE), which comprise, but not limited to – hand gloves, face masks, air-purifying respirators, goggles, face shields, N95-respirators, coverall gowns and good hand sanitizers. At this critical time however, since some of these are disposable, the government needs to source for more, may be locally (Livingston et al., 2020), and procure them in large numbers to meet the increasing need for the preventive efforts to be hugely rewarding.
- In the absence of approved direct-acting antiviral agent(s) or vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 infection, the standard of care is supportive therapy (currently in use) for symptomatic COVID-19 patients, each in his or her isolation room. However, the standard practice is to make air-borne infection isolation room for a novel pathogen of this sort a negative-pressure room. This may be costly though, this time and condition demand we make such rooms what they should be to protect our HCWs, and by extension, protect the entire human population. As presently encouraged by the State, all returnees from COVID-19 affected countries should patriotically self-isolate for a 14-day period and be under medical watch.
Conclusively, I wish the State Government and the entire residents all the strength and wisdom to victoriously fight off this scourge,” Dr. Sule added.