Ebola: Nigerian government checks air travellers for virus

Passengers line-up at Abuja airport for Ebola screening
The government is using laser temperature detectors to check high temperatures.

Passengers at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, and the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, were, on Friday, greeted with a different form of security check at the airports.

A lawyer, Eje Onuche, who boarded an Arik flight from Yola to Abuja, told PREMIUM TIMES that on getting down from the plane at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, he was analysed by a nurse with a laser temperature detector.

“I stepped out of the plane and was walking towards the luggage area, when I saw so many people gathered at the entrance to the luggage area, trying to enter the airport. I stood waiting for my turn for about 20 minutes. I walked in front of something that looked like a laser temperature machine which was being held by a nurse. It scanned my temperature and she asked me to go,” he said.

He said the nurse did not come close to him, but pointed the device at him from a distance. He added that he noticed people who were detected with high temperatures were taken to an inner room.

Another traveller, Lanre Wasiu, a doctor, who departed from Lagos to Abuja, said he was also screened at the Abuja airport.

He suggested that the Ebola virus might be the reason behind the scan.

A third traveller coming in from Lagos to Abuja also narrated a similar experience, but this time, at the Lagos airport. He, however, said nobody was isolated at the time he was being scanned.

The spokesperson for the Ministry of Aviation, Yakubu Dati, said the Ministry of Health instigated the idea and the Port Health Services of the Ministry of Health was in charge of the screening.

“There are medical personnel with testing equipment, and the test is carried out immediately the passengers arrive. The passengers (with high temperatures) are kept in a holding room for samples and further examinations.The major symptom of Ebola is high temperature. Lagos and Abuja airports are exercising this screening and there are plans to expand the process,” he said.

The Ebola virus has stirred up fear among Nigerians, following the death of a Liberian, Patrick Sawyer, who brought the disease into Nigeria. One other person, a nurse who treated the Liberian, has died from the disease in Lagos, and over 70 people who have had contact with infected persons, are currently under surveillance. Five of those have tested positive to the virus.

The disease’s symptoms include high temperature, rashes, internal bleeding, and headaches.


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  • Efe1

    Why did they not check Patrick sawyer? Or did the govt not know that there is Ebola in Liberia? Or they did not know that the flight was coming in from Liberia? The incompetences displayed from all aspect of govt and it’s agencies is unbelievable.

    • Maryam

      I’m sorry but how were they supposed to know he was coming from Liberia when he first landed? The flight was coming from Togo and it would be hard to trace it back to Liberia. As it has been stated severally, the signs of ebola resembles that of malaria or even the influenza virus. In short, it will take a while for them to get all the information about his flight and the main focus, initially, was to help the sick man.

      • Efe1

        My friend there is no excuse. The test is simple and fast, the FG has no excuse for not performing such a simple test to save the country from the danger it has being thrown it now. Extra care under these condition is normally the norm. Any flight from the west African sub region should be checked.

  • Amaka

    Government only in Abuja to protect and insulate those we have elected from the rest of us. The other parts of the country can go to hell.

  • sid

    Anybody with a high fever or any other suspected symptoms is going to be put in a room with other suspected cases, so if one case in the room is real, everybody in the room will be exposed.

    • Efe1

      Are they going to be sharing bodily fluid whiles in the room?