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Airlines under scrutiny over disease import to Nigeria

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The first case of Coronavirus in Nigeria has put foreign airlines under scrutiny over their compliance with laid down directives to check passengers with potential symptoms of the killer disease.

The scrutiny was not unconnected with the Italian Coronavirus index patient who arrived in Lagos on Wednesday aboard a Turkish Airlines flight.

A Lagos airport official, yesterday, told The Guardian that the vigilance was not to punish any airline, but to ensure that every stakeholder cooperates to prevent the spread of the virus in Nigeria.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had recently called for a high-level of vigilance by airlines, especially those operating international and regional flights, all designated point of entries (POEs) and the travelling public.

NCAA’s Acting Director General, Capt. Sidi Abdullahi, in a letter to service providers, mandated Pilots in Command (PIC) of aircraft to report to the Air Traffic Control (ATC), any suspected cases of communicable disease on board an aircraft in line with Nigerian Civil Regulation Rules (Nig. CARs).

The official, who did not want to be named, said neither the airline nor health officials at the airport could be blamed for the index case, because “we are dealing with a very tricky public health situation here.

“Nevertheless, this is the time for all hands to be on deck. The airlines have bigger responsibility of disclosing possible threats, ours is to ensure that they all comply.”

Both the General Manager for the Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Mrs. Victoria Shin-Abba, and General Manager, Public Affairs of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, could not be reached for comments on the matter.


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