FG Intensifies Ebola Screening at Lagos Airport

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Chinedu Eze

The federal government has intensified efforts to ensure that Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is not retransmitted into the country and therefore has activated all procedures to prevent infected travellers from gaining access to any of the nation’s airports.

To ensure that this objective is achieved, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and Port Health, a department under the Ministry of Health have increased surveillance on the screening of passengers for the deadly communicable disease.

Officials of FAAN at the airport explained that all passengers coming in from West Africa and other countries around the world are constantly screened by the thermal screening machines deployed to the D and E wings of arrivals at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos even without the knowledge of the passengers.

The Airport Regional Manager, South-west, Mrs. Victoria Shin-Aba in an interview with aviation journalists wednesday said that apart from the thermal screening machines, the agency also had public health emergency programme put in place for that purpose by the management.

She insisted that the facility was equipped and was up to the recommended standards of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and World Health Organisation (WHO).

Shin-Aba, however, disclosed that rather than the infrared method, which was a physical screening procedure used in the past, the government had moved up to adopt the thermal screening method, which automatically has erased the physical screening exercise and thereby reducing contacts with passengers.

She explained that with this development, arriving passengers would be unaware of their screening by its officials deployed to the two arrival points.

She also disclosed that despite the seeming complacency on Ebola screening virus in most countries of the world after the 2014 sordid experience, FAAN did not relax the screening at the airport, but adopted a more sophisticated method and dropped the infrared, which she described as manual.

“A mock exercise to know how we are ready for the outbreak was carried out about two weeks ago in this terminal and the exercise was successful, which shows that we are ready to tackle the scourge and ensure that passengers with the disease are not allowed into the country through our entry points.

“There is an outcry that we are not screening arrival passengers at the airport. This can’t be true because what we do now is thermal screening with a monitor, which screens every passenger that comes in even without their knowledge. Whatever we do here is in accordance with ICAO and WHO standards. However, we don’t isolate any passenger because of the screening.”

Also commenting, the acting General Manager, Medical, FAAN, Dr. Kehinde Ayotunde, reiterated that the scanners, which were provided by FAAN were already installed at the two entry points of the international wing of the airport.

“FAAN only collaborate and support port health services in terms of materials the service would need to carry out its duties. All the preventable measures are being taken by FAAN to ensure that we don’t allow anyone with the communicable disease into our country.”

Also Mr. Kingsley Eze, a passenger on Kenya Airways who departed from the United Arab Emirates, lauded FAAN for the proactive measures taken to ensure that the disease does not reenter the country through the gateways.

He explained that some of the passengers were also screened in UAE, stressing that whatever that could be done to prevent it from penetrating Nigeria should be adopted by the government.

Also, John Nnamdi, another passenger on Kenya Airways, said that he was aware the deadly disease broke out in Congo Democratic Republic again some few weeks ago.

He said the efforts deployed by the government was good for the country and it further showed the seriousness the government attached to the lives of its citizenry.