The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has directed all airline operators, especially those operating regional and international flights into Nigeria, to exercise a high level of vigilance so as not to fly into the country passengers infected with the deadly Ebola Virus.
The Director-General of the NCAA, Capt. Muktar Usman, told journalists in Lagos that the warning had become necessary in view of the resurgence of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – a sad trend that has forced the World Health Organisation (WHO) to declare the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) in line with International Health Regulations (IHR).
“In case of death to a patient, operating airlines should endeavour to contact the Port Health Services in Nigeria for clearance before importing human remains into the country,” said Usman.
According to Usman, letters had already been sent to all airline owners flying into Nigeria directing that airlines’ Pilots in Command (PIC) of aircraft are to report to Air Traffic Control (ATC) in Nigeria any suspected case of communicable disease on board their flight on approach into the country.
“In case of a suspected case of communicable disease on board an aircraft, aircrew are required to fill the General Declaration (Gen Dec) and Public Health Passenger Locator forms in line with Nigerian civil regulations,” said Usman.
Airlines are to report to NCAA in writing any suspected case of communicable disease on board any flight and similarly, the Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) shall immediately communicate to Port Health Services (PHS) any report of a suspected case of communicable disease on board aircraft,” Usman added.
The NCAA boss said, in addition, airlines are to ensure they have on board, valid and appropriate number of First Aid kits, Universal Precaution Kits (UPKs) and Emergency Medical kits.
“Airlines are to refresh the knowledge of their crew members (flight deck and cabin crew) for improved and sustained proficiency in handling and communicating with ATC of any suspected case of communicable disease on board,” said Usman.
“The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) expects strict compliance and will collaborate with all relevant agencies to prevent the incursion of Ebola or any communicable disease into the country,” he added.