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Umrah passengers stranded at Kano Airport

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Passengers traveling to Saudi Arabia for lesser hajj (Umrah) through the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), Kano, were yesterday stranded, as the news of their cancelled flight broke.

The passengers, who had assembled at the departure area of the terminal to embark on the spiritual journey, expressed dissatisfaction over the development.

The Saudi Arabia authorities on Thursday placed restriction on all intending pilgrims travelling for lesser hajj due to the outbreak and spread of Coronavirus across continents. The Federal Government, yesterday, confirmed the first case in Nigeria.

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One of the passengers, Aminu Isiaku, expressed sadness over the cancellation of their flight, calling on government to deploy necessary facilities to curtail the spread, while a female passenger regretted that the development happened at a period she planned to travel for the lesser hajj.

Meanwhile, authorities at the airport denied journalists pass to the departure area of the international terminal to observe measures being put in place to screen passengers arriving from abroad.

The Federal Ministry of Health has listed MAKIA as critical entry points where adequate screening of passengers and rapid medical emergency response to enable health workers check the possible spread of the virus in the country.

When contacted, however, the Kano State Government said it had resolved to provide an isolation centre and a standby ambulance at the airport and some other locations as parts of proactive measures at preventing the spread of virus in the state.

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Director of Public Health, state Ministry of Health, Dr. Imam Wada Bello, told journalists explained that the isolation centre at the airport would be used to screen foreigners coming mostly from the affected countries.

He added that the state government was also in talks with relevant agencies for the procurement of relevant materials to curtail the virus, if it surfaces in Kano, noting that the first preventive measure should not generate tension, but the spur public to prioritise personal hygiene, keep their environments clean, wash hands with soap thoroughly and use hand sanitisers frequently.

He, however, advised the public to visit the nearest hospital whenever they feel feverish, sneeze, have catarrh and experience chest pain to avoid the spread of the disease.

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