Ebola Scare: FG directs all port health services to heighten surveillance

Following the lingering Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the federal government has directed all Port Health Service officials and other relevant agencies at Nigeria’s points of entry to heighten surveillance and ensure that all passengers coming into the country are screened. 

Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Abdulaziz Abdullahi Mashi, who gave the directive while inspecting the Port Health facilities at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, yesterday, said any suspected case must be presented for relevant test in line with the global practice on disease emergency control and prevention.

A statement from the ministry said the Permanent Secretary, alongside some directors and staff of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), inspected the health facilities to ascertain the level of preparedness in case of any emergency, following the rumoured Ebola threats in Lagos.

Mashi, who noted that all the “thermal cameras” used to screen incoming passengers into the country are functioning perfectly, also pledged to increase the cameras and deploy more manpower as a result of heavy traffic at the airport. “More doctors, nurses and other health officials would be deployed to the port health services at the international airport, consumable required for day-to-day activities at the airport would also be adequately provided.”

The area visited by the team include Terminals D and C entry screening points, consulting room, secondary investigation room and isolation centre for passengers whose symptoms are suspected to be infectious and harmful to others.

While in Lagos, Mashi met with Permanent Secretary, state Ministry of Health, Dr. Titilayo Goncalves in her office, where he appreciated the efforts of the state government on the preparedness and surveillance system against Ebola virus, saying both ministries have been working together to forestall importation of any disease into the country and called for continuous collaboration.

Mashi said Lagos State is the entry point of most of the visitors to Nigeria; hence the need to heighten the surveillance system.        
In her response, Goncalves said the state was already at alert in case of any eventuality, stressing that the recent information circulating in the social media that someone imported Ebola into the country was not true, as the said patient has been tested and the result was negative.

“I want to authoritatively tell you that the patient was tested and the result was negative, she is well and has been discharged. Everybody should put his/her mind to rest, there is no Ebola in Lagos,” she said.

Mashi also inspected the Cancer Centre at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), where he expressed delight at the state-of-the-art facilities there.