Following the outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday, the Nigerian government has beefed up checks at its various airports.
The federal government also urged Nigerians to remain calm as it is committed to ensuring that the disease is not imported into the country.
The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, spoke while inspecting thermal screening machines at the Port Health Stand of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
“We want to assure Nigerians that we have never stopped screening people, it has been going on at the international wing of all the airports in the country, although passengers may not have noticed it”, a statement by the ministry on Monday quoted Mr. Adewole as saying.
“There is no reason to panic, everything is under control. If there is a need to screen local passengers we would do that but for now we are concentrating on passengers on international travels,” he said.
The minister was at the airport to assess if the screening machines were functioning perfectly as Nigeria stepped up surveillance in detecting fever of any kind.
The country began health screening at international airports during the Ebola crisis of 2014, and the screening has continued since then.
Mr. Adewole urged the public to report any signs or symptoms of fever to the nearest health facility.
In his remarks the Director, Port Health Services, Hassan Garba, said that sophisticated thermal camera installed at the airport captures all arriving passengers with or without their knowledge, adding that anyone showing red on the camera would be quietly called aside for questioning.
The Minister directed that any passengers with fever arriving from a county where Ebola has been detected should be taken for further investigation.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared an Ebola outbreak in the DRC on Friday, saying that at least one person had been confirmed dead due to the virus in the country’s north-east.
However, the management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, assured Nigerians of adequate surveillance at Nigerian airports following the outbreak of the disease.
In a statement on Monday, FAAN assured passengers and airport users of safety at the nation’s airports.
According to the agency’s spokesperson, Henrietta Yakubu, adequate measures have been put in place to checkmate the re-occurrence of any such outbreak in Nigeria.
Mrs. Yakubu emphasized that all measures adopted in 2014 to curtail the dreaded virus remain very much in place and have been fortified.
According to the statement, the Ebola Screening Points and detecting machines have been fully re-instated at Nigerian airports.
She also disclosed that the agency was also collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Health, through the Port Health Service, to reactivate the Ebola Awareness and Sensitization Campaign.
On Monday, the World Health Organization confirmed a second Ebola case in Congo.
“So far there are 19 suspect cases, including three deaths and two lab-confirmed cases,” a WHO spokesperson in Geneva said.
The first case was confirmed on Friday in Bas-Uele province in the north-east of the country.
But in its statement released in Lagos on Monday, FAAN said there was no outbreak of Ebola in Nigeria or at any Nigerian airport.
The agency, therefore, urged air passengers and airport users to go about their business activities without fear.
Nigeria was declared free of Ebola virus by the WHO in October 2014 and the country praised for its handling of the disease which caused about 4,500 deaths across West Africa.