NCAA writes airlines over Ebola outbreak, urges vigilance, compliance
• Scientists announce cure for dreaded disease
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) yesterday put operators on red alert over further spread of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Africa.In a letter to the airlines, the apex regulatory body urged regional and international carriers to exercise extra caution to prevent re-entry of the disease into the country.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) following the resurgence of the deadly ailment in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).Though the epidemic has claimed no fewer than 1800 lives in the East African nation, the detection of four new cases between July 14 and August 2 in the major transit hub of Goma, which sits right on the Rwandan border, has put the international community on the alert.
NCAA, in the correspondence signed by the Director General, Captain Muktar Usman, directed that airlines’ Pilots in Command (PIC) should report to Air Traffic Control (ATC) any suspected case of communicable disease on board their flights in line with Nig.CARs 188.8.131.52.
In the event of any, they are to fill the General Declaration (Gen Dec) and Public Health Passenger Locator forms in deference to Nig.CARs 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11. Thereafter, the completed forms are to be submitted to the Port Health Services (PHS) of the destination aerodrome.
In addition, airlines are to ensure they have on board valid and appropriate number of first aid kits, universal precaution kits (UPKs) and emergency medical kits as stipulated in Nig.CARS 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124.
Spokesperson of the regulatory agency, Sam Adurogboye, added that airlines are also to refresh the knowledge of their crewmembers – flight deck and cabin crew – for proficiency in handling of communications with the ATC of any incidence.“In case of death to a patient, operating airlines should endeavour to contact the PHS for clearance before importing human remains into the country. Airlines are to report to the NCAA in writing any suspected case of communicable disease on board any flight.”
“Similarly, the ATCs shall immediately communicate to the PHS any report of a suspected case of communicable disease on board aircraft in line with Nig. CARs 126.96.36.199,” he said. Adurogboye said the NCAA expects strict compliance and will collaborate with all relevant agencies in this regard.
Meanwhile, scientists have announced a cure for the dreaded disease after two of four drugs tried on the DRC outbreak were found to have significantly reduced the death rate.Data from a clinical trial released yesterday showed that people, who received therapy soon after infection, had a 90 per survival rate.
According to the findings published by WHO and the United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (US NIAID) which also co-sponsored the defunct ZMapp and Remdesivir used during the massive Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, noted that the fresh vaccines were potent after the two monoclonal antibodies substantially blocked the virus.
Consequently, the trial in the DRC, which started in November, has now been stopped and all Ebola treatment units are, henceforth, to use the two monoclonal antibody drugs.
The Director General of the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale in DRC, which oversaw the trial, Prof. Jean-Jacques Muyembe, said: “From now on, we will no longer say that Ebola is incurable. These advances will help save thousands of lives.”However, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has hailed the findings as a major breakthrough in the quest to defeat Ebola. The Director General/Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, made the commendation yesterday in a phone interview with The Guardian.
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