An Air France 1300 flight was on Thursday isolated at Madrid’s Barajas International Airport in Spain over fears that a Nigerians passenger on the airline has Ebola.
The spokespersons for Aena, the airport operator and Spain’s Ministry of health, told Reuters that Ebola emergency measures had been activated at the facility.
The latest scare comes just as the World Health Organisation, WHO, said Nigeria will be officially declared Ebola-free on October 20.
WHO had said Nigeria and Senegal would be cleared of Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, if the two countries successfully complete a 42-day period without recording new cases.
“If the active surveillance for new cases that is currently in place continues, and no new cases are detected, WHO will declare the end of the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Senegal on Friday 17 October,” WHO had said in a statement.
“The 42-day period is twice the generally accepted maximum incubation period of the virus,” the statement indicated.
WHO said waiting for 42 days from the time the last person with high risk exposure tests negative for the virus gives sufficient confidence to declare an outbreak over.
But in separate statements, Aena and Air France confirmed that a passenger on the Lagos outbound flight via Paris started shaking during the flight.
As soon as the flight touched down at the airport, Air France said the other passengers disembarked from the plane before it was towed away to be disinfected.
It also confirmed that the return flight has been cancelled.
The Spanish government has stepped up its response to suspected Ebola cases in the wake of a health scare when a nurse in Madrid became infected with the deadly virus in the current outbreak.
The nurse, Teresa Romero, was diagnosed with the virus last week and is still seriously ill but stable.
Ms. Romero had cared for two infected priests repatriated from West Africa and who later died.
Spanish authorities said on Thursday that a person who had been in contact with Ms. Romero and was being monitored remotely for signs of the disease would be hospitalised after developing a fever, one of the symptoms of Ebola.
The person was one of 68 considered to have a low risk of catching Ebola, and who have to check their temperature regularly from home.
Another 15 people, including Ms. Romero’s husband, are still under observation for signs of Ebola in Madrid’s Carlos III hospital where she is also being treated, but have shown no symptoms.
A Liberian, Patrick Sawyer, brought the Ebola virus to Nigeria when he arrived the country for a conference organised by the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS.
Mr. Sawyer, who had attempted to leave Lagos for Calabar, Cross River State, where the conference took place, was held at a Lagos hospital where he infected some health officials.
A total of seven Nigerians, including the doctor that treated Mr. Sawyer died before the government was able to halt the spread of the virus in the country.