By Ejike Ejike, Abuja and ANTHONY AWUNOR, Lagos with Agency Report
Days after an outbreak of Ebola disease was reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo fuelling fears of possible spread, authorities at the different international airports across Nigeria are still foot-dragging in directing for immediate screening.
LEADERSHIP had exclusively reported that in spite of assurances by government, checks for the disease are yet to begin at airports.
Although officials of both the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and National emergency Management Agency assured that screening at the airports will commence yesterday, it was observed that international airports across the nation are yet to commence the screening.
Checks at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja and the Murtala Mohammed International airport Lagos revealed that although various stakeholders are said to be putting final touches to the preparations for screening of international passengers, actual screening has not yet begun.
Our correspondents who visited the two famous and indeed, largest airports, discovered that while all the scanning machines were available, there was no obvious screening of passengers.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, yesterday, the spokesperson of the FAAN, Abuja Airport, Mrs. Voke Hope said meetings and consultations are still ongoing, while all preparations have been made.
She further explained that the agency had finished a meeting with the Ministry of Information so as to ensure that every area is covered assuring that soon, the screening will commence.
At the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, it is observed that screening points and detecting machines were in place but actual screening has not yet began.
Meanwhile, World Health Organisation (WHO) said that its experts had not yet decided whether to use newly developed vaccines to try to contain an outbreak of Ebola in Congo, but said officials were making preparations just in case.
A spokesperson for the Geneva-based WHO told Reuters that the organisation was working with specialists to conduct an epidemiological investigation “to better understand the extent of the current outbreak”.
The spokesperson also added that the organisation was investigating to establish who was at risk of becoming infected with Ebola.
The GAVI global vaccine alliance said on Friday that some 300,000 emergency doses of an Ebola vaccine developed by Merck could be available in case of a large-scale outbreak, but it would be up to the WHO and others to determine “if and when deployment of vaccine into this outbreak is warranted”.
The WHO spokesman said “preparations are being accelerated to ensure that vaccine and equipment be available on site” and “appropriate ethical and regulatory authorisation are being sought”.
He added that “if pertinent” an immunization strategy known as ring vaccination would be the recommended approach.