To prevent an outbreak of Ebola and other communicable diseases in the country, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has activated emergency contingency plans at the Lagos, Abuja, Enugu, Kano and Port Harcourt international airports.
The measure is part of the template designed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to checkmate the spread of Ebola, which is ravaging the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
In line with the plans, thermal scanners at the arrival and departure wings of the airports are manned by Port Health officials, who check the temperature of inbound and outbound passengers.
FAAN Regional Manager at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, Mrs. Victoria Shinaba, said the plans would ensure that any passenger with traces of any communicable disease was isolated and attended to.
She said passengers were being screened with the prescribed scanners to reassure airport users of their safety.
Mrs Shinaba said a few weeks ago, a mock exercise was carried out to prepare some workers on the procedure to adopt in the event of an outbreak of communicable disease.
FAAN, she said, would continue to stick to the public health emergency procedure to ensure that international standards are maintained.
She said sanitisers and soaps were being provided at toilets to ensure that passengers maintained high hygiene level.
Akanu Ibiam International Airport (AIIA) in Enugu has since begun thermal and body screening of passengers at the airport.
Its Manager, Mr.Mgbemena Orjiako, said the airport had secured WHO’s cooperation in sensitising airport workers.
According to Mgbemena, the talk,which is only centred on Ebola, also extends to other communicable diseases that are possibly contracted by air or by means of air travel.“You know air travel is the quickest means of moving around from continent to continent.
So, if there is a contagious disease of such magnitude, it can easily move from country to country. So, WHO has been here and has equally assisted us in giving talks on how to tackle it and what to watch out for and what to do to prevent the spread,” Mgbemena said.
He said the Port Health Authority (PHA), in collaboration with other agencies at the airport, held emergency meetings where they carefully designed measures to forestall Ebola at the airport.
He said Enugu airport is very serious on curtailing the Ebola outbreak if any, because an international airline flies into the airport three times a week
Mgbemena said the airport had also created an area where it could keep any passenger detected to have abnormal temperature.
“There is an area in the arrival hall where we keep them and also check their temperature discreetly while they are coming in without their knowing. We also have sanitisers in different corners at the airport where people can wash themselves,” he said.
According to the manager, there is joint monitoring of the movement of passengers into the airport every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
He said: “We pay greater attention to those moving into the airport because most passengers may be coming from Addis Ababa, but may be transiting from other areas of the world. So, we want to be very cautious and we don’t want anything to go wrong.”