The Federal Government has directed port health officers to be vigilant and look out for travellers with visible signs of sickness at all the country’s international airports and other entry points in order to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus, also known as Covid-19, to the country.
It has also directed that any traveller who does not provide his yellow fever vaccine card will be vaccinated for free at the airport and subsequently referred to the Ministry of Health to pay N2,000 and collect his card.
The Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, rolled out the guidelines on Wednesday when an inter-ministerial committee visited the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja to inspect the arrangement and facilities in place for the early detection of the virus among incoming passengers.
Other ministers on the team included the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed; Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Sadiya Umar Farouq and Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.
Mamora said apart from using camera to check the temperature of passengers, port officers should observe travellers on their own because a sick person could also be detected through visual observation.
He said sick persons must be identified and pulled aside for further verification.
“When a passenger arrives, his temperature will be taken to be sure he does not have fever. We will also be conducting visuals on passengers to be sure that when somebody is sick, we can easily pick him out. We will also follow up on all the basic information on a traveller as indicated on the disembarkment form and the place of origin of the flight,” Mamora said.
On his part, Sirika said the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) would work closely with the Port Health Services (PHS), the Nigerian Immigration Services (NIS), Nigerian Airspace Management Authority (NAMA), airlines and the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service.
According to him, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has activated the Public Health Emergency Contingency Plan (PHECP), which is designed to prevent and detect any infectious disease with air travel.
He added that as part of the responsibility to provide safe and secure services for customers, FAAN has been collaborating with Port Health Services, which is the lead agency for public health in the airport since the Coronavirus outbreak began in China in December 2019 to ensure that the virus did not spread to Nigeria.
According to him, the PHS has been using temperature scanners, travel history information as well as carrying out physical observations on all arriving passengers.
“Even though we do not have direct flight from Nigeria to China, there are quite a number of passengers who go to China and transit through other airports. We don’t rely on effort put in place by those airports of transit and that is why we have secondary facility here.
Advocacy visits to traditional rulers and community leaders in the host community. Provision of hand sanitisers within the terminal building to facilitate hand hygiene enhanced disinfection of facilities in the airport toilets and other public areas.
Provision of basic and advanced personal protective clothing/equipment, PPC/PPE to frontline staff ” Sirika said.
He added that designated holding areas have been set up for PHS in the event of suspicious case is found on any aircraft.
He said FAAN was also monitoring the international situation on the evolving global outbreak of Coronavirus in addition to implementing other supportive preventive activities to improve symptom awareness for the virus among travellers and airport workers as well improve environmental and personal hygiene within the airport.