The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (Nahcon) on Friday suspended the Umrah pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, just hours after a case of the deadly coronavirus was confirmed in Lagos
Nahcon said those who had planned to travel for the Umrah, or to visit the Prophet’s mosque in Medina, should suspend the arrangements until further notice.
Authorities said said the decision was a precautionary measure against spread of the new Covid-19 virus, that has affected at least 48 countries globally.
Nigeria's case, which was confirmed on Thursday night, is of an Italian national who had flown in from Milan, a city in Italy.
It is the first confirmed case in sub-Saharan Africa.
Nigerian Health Minister Osagie Ehanire said the Italian, who works in Nigeria, went to Lagos, the commercial capital, on February 25.
Ehanire said his was the first case to be recorded in the country since the outbreak in China in January.
He noted, however, that the case was under control.
The infection was confirmed by the Virology Laboratory at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, part of the Laboratory Network at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has reported that 11 other suspected cases of Covid-19 were all negative.
Director-General Chikwe Ihekweazu said in Abuja on Friday in Abuja that Nigerians need not worry about the virus as they are safe.
"When a high-risk traveller with symptoms arrives in the country, the person is taken from the airport to an isolation centre and samples collected immediately for testing," he said.
“If confirmed, appropriate management will commence, but if negative, the person would still be monitored for 14 days and retested."
He added, "When a high-risk traveller who is not symptomatic comes into the country, the person is advised to stay at home for 14 days and report immediately if he orshe develops symptoms. We also ensure we collect contact details of the person while an official is attached to the person to monitor him or her daily for 14 days."
So far, the virus has resulted in nearly 3,000 fatalities, most of them in China.
Its spread has forced some countries with confirmed cases to close down schools and ban social gatherings.
On February 14, Egypt confirmed its first coronavirus case, saying that the affected person is a foreigner.
The male patient, whose nationality and other personal details were not divulged, has been put in isolation at a hospital.
A statement from the Egyptian health ministry said that the country had informed the World Health Organization (WHO) and had taken all necessary preventive measures, according to news agency Reuters.