Chinelo Obogo and Steve Agbota
Airports Council International (ACI) World, has advised airport operators and authorities to develop communication, screening, entry/exit controls and coordination with the health authorities to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The virus has so far killed 81 people and infected 3,000 others. In its advisory bulletin titled, ‘Transmission of Communicable Diseases’, ACI warned that the outbreak is of considerable concern to the aviation industry, adding that “in the coming days and weeks, ACI expects to see national regulators and health authorities react to the spread of the virus by introducing measures directly affecting aviation.
It stated: “From an operational perspective, ACI is committed to assisting airports. Airport members are advised to refer to the guidelines for outbreaks of communicable disease.”
ACI World’s report states that screening measures adopted by airports should be complementary to the type of communicable disease in order to reduce its international spread. The organisation stated that if the transmission of the disease has occurred during the incubation period, the impact of screening is expected to be significantly lowered. This is expected to have happened with the corona virus, but local requirements should be followed.
Its Director General, Angela Gittens said: “The health and welfare of travellers, staff and the public, and to reduce the oppourtunities for dissemination of communicable diseases, are the priorities for the aviation industry following the recent novel corona virus outbreak.
“The guidance we have issued reiterates a number of options and best practices that airports and national authorities can use to protect against communicable diseases that might pose a serious risk to public health. The recommendations are designed to reduce exposure to an infectious agent at airports and to improve the response to health-related emergencies by establishing standards and procedures for rapid decision-making and action.”
In a related development, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), in collaboration with Port Health Services, has commenced sensitisation of port users and stakeholders across the nation’s seaports to check people who are entering the ports.
The sensitisation is on the need to take precautionary measures to ensure that the virus does not enter Nigeria through the seaports or land entry points.
To this end, Nigeria has placed vessels from some Asian countries especially China, Japan, Thailand and South Korea on strict surveillance, as the disease has already claimed several lives in some of these countries.
Daily Sun learnt that the restrictions also extended to all the land borders as part of precautionary measures as the virus been detected in some African nations.
Speaking with Daily Sun, the General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications of NPA, Jatto Adam, said that a lot of sensitisation and awareness has been going on to ensure that people take necessary measures especially at the ports.
“We are liaising with Port Health Services because they are the one in charge of goods going and coming out of the ports to ensure that people who are entering the port are well checked,” Adam said.
All the relevant agencies such as the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Plant Quarantine Services and the Nigeria Immigration Service, among several others have all been put on red alert.
A statement by the Port Health Services issued out to stakeholders on the outbreak of the virus reads in part: “Port Health Services wishes to notify all port users, agencies and stakeholders of the outbreak of corona virus in China, Thailand, South Korea and Japan that any vessel coming to Nigeria through the above named countries must notify the Port Health Services 48 hours before arrival to forestall any outbreak of this virus in Nigeria.”