By Justina Okpanku
- Airlines urged to heed Port Health Services guidance
It is no longer news that Nigeria has confirmed case of Coronavirus also known as COVID -19 on February 27, 2020. The worry is the preparedness of the authorities to prevent the spread of the virus which has been confirmed in 73 countries killing about 3,000 people. The Italian, who was travelling from Milan, had arrived at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos on Monday, February 24, 2020, was the first victim,. He is now quarantined in a health facility in Lagos. The Federal Ministry of Health, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Lagos State Ministry of Health, and Ogun State Ministry of Health had swiftly responded to ensure there is no further spread of the disease.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has restated its readiness to curtail the spread of the virus saying that the agency is working in line with the guidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Collaborative Arrangement for the Prevention and Management of Public Health Events in Civil Aviation (CAPSCA). The NCAA also has been working with the Federal Ministry of Health and other stakeholders in the aviation industry to ensure all travellers coming into the country are adequately screened while causing minimum disruption to facilitation of travel.
In a statement signed by its Director General NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, NCAA stated that they will continue to ensure that airlines assist with the tracking of passengers who may have come in contact with suspect or ill persons as well as other measures the National Surveillance Systems requires.
Nuhu said all contingency plans for public health events in Aviation have been activated including airport-specific Public Health Emergency Contingency Plans (PHECPs).
He said NCAA has ensured that all measures adopted at Nigerian airports are in accordance to ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and WHO International Health Regulations (IHR 2005).
“Airlines and other airport users are advised to heed the guidance of Port Health Services (a division of the Federal Ministry of Health and Competent Public Health Authority at Point of Entry) on the use of screening forms, assessment of suspect or ill travellers and any other measures they may adopt. Airlines, airport operators, security agencies and other aviation industry stakeholders, are advised to take appropriate precaution to protect their staff.
We advise the travelling public to remain calm but alert and take necessary precaution in protecting themselves while traveling, including alerting crew members and airport facilitation staff to travellers that may look ill or showing signs and symptoms of the disease. Travellers returning from countries experiencing community transmission of the COVID-19 should present themselves to Port Health Services on arrival at the Point of Entry – International Airport. Travellers who develop signs and symptoms of the disease after returning from a trip abroad are to seek immediate medical attention at the nearest Health facility or call the NCDC on 0800-970000-10”, the statement also stated.