The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) in conjunction with other Federal Government officials at airports has intensified screening of arriving passengers for the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) which is currently ravaging in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Federal Government had ordered emergency surveillance activities at all ports of entry to ensure the virus does not creep into the shores of Nigeria again.
Checks at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos yesterday showed that all passengers arriving into the country were subjected to the screening.
When our correspondent visited the arrival area of the MMIA, infrared thermometer scanners and a thermal camera were some of the equipment deployed to check the temperature of the passengers.
Passengers who arrived from Dubai and Nairobi Kenya via Emirates and Kenya Airways were seen undergoing the process before going through the immigration screening.
The thermal camera captures the image of a passenger as he or she enters the secure area before reaching the immigration screening point.
As the image is captured, the temperature of the subject is immediately detected by the Port Health Officer operating the large-screen computer system. This is in addition to the handheld infrared scanner being used to screen the passengers.
Ag. General Manager, Medical FAAN, Dr. Ayotunde Kehinde said any passenger with abnormal temperature count upon screening would be quarantined and subjected to secondary observation.
He said already there are scanners now provided for the initial identification of any communicable disease but the screening was further strengthened with the emergency surveillance declaration on Ebola.
"There are scanners provided for the issue of prevention of communicable diseases. The scanners have been mounted already and as the passengers file in, the device reads their temperature and body vitals and it is recorded."
"If the scanner picks up anything higher than normal, the passenger is kept aside for secondary analysis to determine whether it is just a common fever or something higher. This is not like the way it used to be.”
Airport Manager of MMIA, Mrs. Victoria Shinaba who spoke on the efforts to keep the country free of Ebola said the activities have not changed since the last outbreak of the virus.
She said, "We have a Public emergency program in place that is in conformity with ICAO practice and we follow that.
“We also have the Thermal screener since the last Ebola. Once anyone with body temperature is picked. A mock audit was carried out two weeks ago. A passenger came in from Ghana with high temperature and we were able to pick him up”.
It was however learned that the screening was not being conducted in some of the originating countries as confirmed to our correspondent by some of the passengers.
The passengers said though they experienced similar screening in Dubai, United Arab Emirates but not in Nairobi in Kenya while expressing delight with the development which they described as a precautionary measure to prevent any outbreak of the communicable disease in the country.