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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