Rivers Port suspends issuance of shore pass for visiting crew over Ebola

The Port Manager of Rivers Port Complex (RPC), Port Harcourt, Mrs. Carolyn Ufere has asked officials of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to stop granting shore-pass to crew of vessels that call at the port as a way of curtailing further spread of the deadly ebola virus disease.

Shore passes allow crew members who are granted shore leave by the Master of their ship to disembark and enter into the town of the host port.

Ufere gave the directive in Port Harcourt while addressing stakeholders during an interactive session at the Port Training Centre.

She said Rivers Port is a sensitive entry port into Nigeria hence the urgent need to step up action to control possible spread of the ebola virus.

“I think it is important to urge all the port stakeholders to double their effort in carrying out the fight against the deadly virus which has no known cure for now.

“It is my belief that this directive if adhered to will go a long way in preventing members of the Nigerian society from contracting the virus from affected visitors in the country,” Ufere was quoted as saying in a press release issued by the Port’s Chief Public Affairs Officer, Barbara Nchey-Achukwu.

She also urged security officials at the port to be on red alert and maintain vigilance at the various entrances.

“They should help to put their men on strategic locations to checkmate the influx of persons into the port, especially those that have no business being at the port,” she stated.

Ufere said the interactive session was held to brainstorm and bring to the fore preventive measures to address further spread of the virus.

She said the RPC management has provided personal protective equipment (PPE), disinfectant, hand gloves, sanitizers and soap for medical staff and other departments.

RPC’s Chief Port Health Officer, Dr. Margret Uzoamaka Osakwe, who midwived the interactive session, advised representatives of companies and agencies operating in the port to be vigilant and “have lesser contact with foreign people in the port.”

Representatives of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), terminals operators including PTOL and Bua, security agencies, shipping companies and the Nigeria Customs Service all attended the interactive session.

So far 1,427 people have died from the ebola virus disease in West Africa. The speed and extent of the outbreak has been “unprecedented”, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

An estimated 2,615 people have been infected in the sub-region since March.

There is no known cure but some affected people have recovered after being given an experimental drug, ZMapp. However, supplies are now exhausted.

Also on Sunday, a British health worker infected with Ebola in Sierra Leone was flown back to the UK on a RAF jet. It is the first confirmed case of a Briton contracting the virus during the current outbreak.

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