22 Aug 2014

Ebola Outbreak: Federal Government steps up Airport surveillance

The Federal Government has stated that it is further stepping up its surveillance at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos to prevent another cross-border transmission of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease to Nigeria.

Director of Port Health Services, Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, Dr. Morenike Alex-Okoh said since the Lagos airport is a major aviation hub in the West African sub-region, the screening services would not be relaxed.

Alex-Okoh spoke in Lagos on Friday, while taking delivery of 30 non-contact forehead infra-red thermometers donated by the United States Diplomatic Mission in Nigeria to the Federal Government.

The senior port health official noted that since the index Ebola case of the late Liberian-American, Patrick Sawyer, was recorded at the Lagos airport, the MMA authorities had remained on full alert.

According to her, the 30 thermometers newly donated by the US government for use at the airport were “more accurate” than what was being used for the detection of probable Ebola patients among arriving and departing passengers.
Alex-Okoh said, “The Murtala Muhammed Airport is one of the busiest on the African continent and in fact the most important in the West Africa sub-region.

“We are taking more serious steps to prevent a recurrence of another Ebola case and any form of cross border transmission at this time.

“If Liberia had something in place to prevent the index case (Sawyer) from coming to Nigeria we won’t be where we are today.

“The equipment in form of non-contact infra red thermometers are very valuable instruments for port health authorities to check for Ebola virus.

“The donation will further help us to expand the scope of our screening and in fact they are more accurate than what we presently have.”
US Consul General, Mr. Jeffery Hawkins, stated that the donation of the thermometers symbolised the American government’s “willingness to continue to stand by the Nigerian government” in its fight against the Ebola outbreak.

He added that the non-contact thermometers which would reduce the potential spread of diseases compared to the use of contact devices, was geared towards providing “critical response” towards containing the EVD in Nigeria.
“We recognise that the fight against Ebola is a struggle that the US government must partner with Nigeria to fight. It is not a Nigerian or an American struggle. It is a struggle for humanity and against a real public health challenge,” the top US diplomat stated.

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