A new virus that has left at least six people dead and 300 sickened, worries Nigeria and the rest of the world.

The Coronavirus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Officials in China are now racing to contain the spread of the virus after it was confirmed that the infection can spread between humans.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered “resolute efforts to curb the spread” of the virus and there are international efforts to contain the spread of the virus after cases were detected in South Korea, Japan and Thailand.

Airports around Asia and the rest of the world have stepped up temperature screening of incoming passengers.

Several hubs in the US with connections to Wuhan, including New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles have also stepped up temperature screening, CNN reports.

Chinese President, Xi Jinping attends a signing ceremony with President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Kenzaburo Fukuhara/Pool
Chinese President, Xi Jinping attends a signing ceremony with President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Kenzaburo Fukuhara/Pool

There were initial reports that the virus was unlikely to spread between humans, but Chinese health authorities now say there is “definitely human-to-human transmission.”

A global threat

The coronavirus has a slow incubation period, a factor which makes it doubly difficult to stop its spread.

The virus is linked to a seafood and live animal market in Wuhan.

“The lesson we have learned is that coronavirus infections are serious and one of the newest and biggest global health threats,” Peter Hotez, a vaccine scientist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston told CNN.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced that it would convene an emergency meeting to determine whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of “international concern” and what recommendations should be made to manage its spread.

Why Nigeria is worried

With the world being one huge global village these days, Nigeria is understandably concerned about coronavirus infections as well.

China is Africa’s biggest trading partner and Nigeria is Africa’s biggest market.

Nigeria’s government says health authorities at points of entry are on alert for cases of coronavirus arriving in Africa’s most populous country.

The Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) has asked travelers coming from Wuhan to report to a medical facility and the center if they feel ill.

There were more than 200,000 Chinese workers in Africa in 2017, asides numerous informal migrants such as traders and shopkeepers, according to the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University.

China is battling a SARS-like coronavirus disease that spread from Wuhan (AFP)
China is battling a SARS-like coronavirus disease that spread from Wuhan (AFP)
Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images

China is learning from SARS

During the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) pandemic which infected more than 8,000 people and killed 774 in 2002 and 2003, China’s Communist government was blamed for making the disease far worse by initially hiding information, censoring coverage, preventing people from realizing how severe SARS was and obstructing the work of the WHO.

This time however, China’s leader Xi Jinping has led calls for tough measures, ordering that “party committees, governments and relevant departments at all levels should put people’s lives and health first.”

Director General of NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, says Nigeria is "carrying out regular risk assessments and reviewing our level of preparedness in the event of a coronavirus outbreak.

“Our Emergency Prep. Team holds daily epidemic intelligence review meetings to guide response activities.

“We continue to build strong systems. We are working closely with colleagues in the Department of Port Health Services to heighten surveillance at various points of entry especially for travelers from China.

“The advice to travelers from China is to report to a port health officer or NCDC, if they feel ill.”