There is growing concern over the seeming lackadaisical response at Nigerian international airports towards the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) announcement of a fresh outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) last week Friday.
According to reports, despite the promise made by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) immediately following the confirmation of one life lost to the virus in the DRC, airports are yet to secure adequate safety measures, such as hand sanitizers and temperature scanners, in order to avoid the virus entering the country again through travelers and threatening lives just as in 2014.
In line with statements from FAAN’s Corporate Affairs and Public Affairs departments stating that there was no cause for alarm, it was expected that as soon as the threat was announced surveillance would increase at the airports, with entrants into the country going through necessary health and safety motions.
However, it appears none of those measures was effected, and screening measures are expected to commence only today.
FAAN representatives state that in addition to assuring Nigerians having no cause for panic based on the preventive measures put in place at the airports, the fact that we don’t have direct flights coming in from the DRC is another advantage to consider. National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) spokesperson, Sani Datti, confirmed that the agency is already in talks with the Ministries of Health and Aviation on “how to manage any eventuality”.
Meanwhile, yesterday, WHO confirmed a second outbreak of the virus in the DRC. Three individuals out of the 19 suspected cases have been reported dead so far. WHO officials are presently trying to find and monitor 125 cases linked to the outbreak in the northeastern region of the country.
Just before the first case of Ebola outbreak in the DRC, WHO warned that Africa was bound to witness another incidence with the virus, and thus the continent would do well to be prepared to tackle it head on. Quality surveillance and public sensitisation are only the first steps.