by Olorunwa Lawal
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has announced that it has started temperature screening passengers arriving from places at risk from Ebola and has suspended Asky Airline because it brought the first case to Lagos.
“Screening and monitoring is being done at all major international airports. It entails checking passengers’ temperatures with a hand-held machine,” NCAA spokesman Sam Adurogboye, then added that a compulsory blood test would follow if the passenger’s temperature gave cause for concern.
The International Airlines Association (IATA) said that WHO has not yet recommended any travel restrictions or border closures due to the outbreak, and added that there will be a low risk to other passengers if an Ebola patient flew.
Ebola has been blamed for 729 deaths in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, according to the World Health Organization. One died in Lagos, a crowded city of 21 million people with some of Africa’s worst sanitation and health care.
Patrick Sawyer, a consultant for Liberia’s Finance Ministry in his 40s, collapsed on arrival at Lagos airport on July 20 on an Asky flight. He was put in isolation at the First Consultants Hospital in Obalende, but died early on July 25.
“We have suspended Asky until they are able to show us what measures they have put in place for passengers to ensure they do not bring Ebola,” Adurogboye said.
He said the largest Airline Arik Air was being told to maintain its self-imposed suspension of all flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone for the time being.
Authorities were monitoring 59 people who were in contact with Sawyer, including airport contacts, and are seeking to make contact with all passengers that were on his flight.
The latest outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever began in the forests of remote eastern Guinea in February. It starts with headaches and fever, and final stage symptoms include external and internal bleeding, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Sierra Leone declared a state of emergency and called in troops to quarantine epicentres of Ebola on Thursday.