Coronavirus: Stakeholders worry about surveillance at Nigeria’s international airports

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Following the announcement of the first case of coronavirus in Nigeria, aviation experts have called for better surveillance at all the country’s international airports.

Aviation security expert, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (retd.), noted that it had become necessary to adequately equip all the country’s major entry points and deploy skilled manpower in health management.

He said, “It is all about effective and efficient health profiling at the point of entry; do we have the necessary equipment and do we have skilled manpower in health management at the point of entry or adhoc manpower?

“Lagos State health departments seem to be sufficient for such emergency among the 36 states, what preparations are in place at the other states health services?

“If Murtala Muhammed International Airport is being complemented by the Lagos State Health Services, what are we expecting to do for other major airports in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Enugu and Kano?”

Aviation analyst, Olumide Ohunayo, said with what had happened, it had become necessary to begin screening from the foot of aircraft at all international airports in the country.

“We may be prepared but we need to step up our game,” he said.

Another stakeholder who craved anonymity, said there was the need to improve surveillance in other airports, adding that if a passenger could beat the screening in Lagos then more work needed to be done.

A health worker at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said there was nothing wrong with the current way of screening as it was the global standard practice.

The health worker said screening had been ongoing and the manifest of people on the flight had been retrieved for contact tracing.

He stated that there were no facilities or manpower to check the blood sample of every arriving passenger due to the large number except for the regular screening that had been going on before the first case was announced.

“There is no way to carry out screening other than what we are doing currently,” the source said.

The General Manager, Corporate Affairs of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, said there were screening points in all the country’s international airports adding that passengers had no reason to panic.

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