US commends NPA’s effort to combat ebola at seaport

The United States of America Consul-General in Nigeria, Jeffrey Hawkins, has commended the management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for its proactive efforts aimed at preventing the spread of the deadly ebola virus disease through the seaports.

Speaking on Monday when he visited the NPA Headquarters in Marina, Lagos, Hawkins described efforts made by the NPA as “reassuring and genuine”.

Managing Director of NPA, Mallam Habib Abdullahi, while welcoming the Consular General to his office gave the assurance that all  relevant departments and agencies like the Medical, Health, Safety and Environment (HSE), Port Health Services, Federal Ministry of Health and Lagos State Ministry of Health have been placed on high alert for preventive and curative measure in case of  any suspected ebola case at the port.

He said Port Health officials are the first to enter vessels and conduct checks before other legitimate officials like Customs and Immigration are allowed on board.

Abdullahi asserted that the number of people who board the vessels have been reduced drastically.

He said since Nigeria does not operate cruise ships and hardly receives vessels from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea for now, the possibility of passengers with ebla coming in through the port is very low allaying fears that likely carriers of the deadly virus would slip through the ports into the country.

Hawkins assured that the American government was ready to collaborate with Nigeria, which is why the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has some experts on ground in the country.

He said since Nigerian ports are the life blood of the Nigerian economy and the key element in Nigeria’s inflow and outflow of business concerns, the need to consolidate on its efforts in the prevention and control of the scourge cannot be overemphasised. The US Consul-General said that the efforts will translate into a much safer ports in Nigeria, suggesting a strict protocol of getting sick people into isolation while health officials check on them and every other person they make contact with.

Hawkins was accompanied on the visit by the Political and Economic Officer of the US EMbassy, Nicholas Austin, while the General Manager of Western Zone, Ms Adenike Sonaike; Port Manager of Lagos Ports Complex, Apapa, Malam Nasir Anas Mohammed; Port Manager of Tin Can Island Port Complex, Mr. Babatunde Longe and the Asst. General Manager Medical Services Dr. (Mrs) C. A. Abama were present at the event.

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