According to a recent report from the Daily Independent, Nigeria’s Port Health Services, a division of the Federal Ministry of Health at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport are unprepared to stop transmission of Ebola virus by effectively screening Ebola carrying passengers before entrance at Nigeria’s ports.
Lagos State government of Nigeria on Saturday cremated the corpse of the 40 year old Liberian, Patrick Sawyer, who was confirmed to be carrying the Ebola virus on arrival from Monrovia, Liberia, last Sunday.
The body was cremated at the crematorium of the Lagos Mainland Hospital that has been designated for such deadly diseases.
The news of the cremation of the corpse was confirmed to Sunday Independent last night by the Director, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (CDC), Dr Abdulsalami Nasidi.
Nasidi told our correspondent that the corpse had to be cremated in the best possible manner and according to international standards to avoid the spread of the deadly EVD.
As part of the World Health Organization (WHO) standard for handling corpses of victims of the EVD, cremation is recommended as a viable option to prevent transmission of the virus to other humans.
According to the WHO, one of the strong factors for spreading the virus in Africa has been through the improper handling of corpses, which it notes are more virulent in spreading the virus.
Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person have equally played key role in the transmission of Ebola and as such persons who have died of Ebola must be handled using strong protective clothing and gloves, and be buried immediately.
Meanwhile, following the death of the Liberian, in Nigeria as a result of
the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), there is uncertainty over the preparedness of the Port Health Services, a division of the Federal Ministry of Health at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, to check the influx of carriers of the virus into the country.
EVD has continued to ravage Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, with 603 persons already dead, according to World Health Organization (WHO).
Ministries of Health of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have been working with WHO to curtail the EVD spread and causing more deaths.
Since these countries are in the same region with Nigeria, there are fears that passengers, who flew in the same airplane and the crew, who served the late Sawyer in-flight meal, might have contacted the virus.
As a result of the spread of the disease, there are indications that some countries may demand that air passengers flying into their country from the affected countries must be screened before being allowed into the country.
Already, unconfirmed report said that Saudi Arabia authority has disallowed persons from these affected countries of Guinea and Liberia to travel for Hajj.
When Daily Independent visited to the Port Health Services at MMIA, Lagos, officials were seen attending to people who wanted to collect yellow cards, while others waited to be attended to.
However, there were no signs of readiness in the event of any outbreak of EVD.
At the Port Health Offices close to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Access Gate, no one was willing to speak on the issue, as some of the officials claimed to be civil servants and could not speak on the issue.
An official of the MMIA Port Health Services, who directed our correspondent to the international wing, said that they are only administrative staff and are not authorized to speak on such issue.
He directed our correspondent to see the officials at international terminal, who are on the field and who, according to him, would be able to answer questions on the outbreak of EVD at the Lagos airport.
At the international terminal, there were three officials of the service, all female; but, none of them was ready to speak on the issue.
They also said that as civil servants, they are not authorized to speak to journalists.
They also directed our correspondent to the office at close to FAAN Access Gate.
However, a source close to the service, who refused to disclose his identity, said the country is never prepared for anything, adding that from what he could see on ground, he did not think the airport was prepared.
He said that it is one thing to show Nigerians something on the television, but that what is on ground is different from what they are showing.
According to him, “From what I have seen, I don’t think we are ready, because, what I have seen on the ground is different from what they are telling us”
Attempt to reach the General Manager, Corporate Communications, FAAN, Yakubu Dati, proved abortive, as he could not be reached.
Contacted, Acting Director General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Benedict Adeyileka, said he was attending a meeting and would discuss with our correspondent later in the day.
It would be recalled that a Liberian, Patrick Sawyer, quarantined in a private medical facility in Lagos for suspected infection of EVD, died on Friday, a situation that triggered panic across the country due to the highly contagious nature of the disease, which so far, has no cure.