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NCAA issues fresh guidelines for international airlines on Ebola epidemics

Henceforth, all Pilots-in-Command of all aircraft arriving Nigeria from overseas are to report to the Nigerian Air Traffic Control (ATC), any suspected case of communicable disease onboard their flight or risk sanctions.

This was the high point of the latest directive form the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) as the nation battles to ward off spread of the deadly Ebola virus in Nigeria again.

The new set of guidelines issued earlier this week is designed to govern international airline operations following the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Image maker of the federal agency, Mr. Sam Adurogboye, told journalists in Lagos that the new guidelines also make it mandatory for all international airlines to get clearance from the Nigerian Port Health Services before importing human remains into the country.

He noted that the regulatory agency in the safety guidelines dispatched to all operating airlines “called for a high level of vigilance by airlines, especially those operating international and regional flights into Nigeria.”

In the circular to all airlines, NCAA alerted of the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the Democratic Republic of Congo on May 8, 2018.

“Airlines are to report to NCAA in writing, of any suspected case of communicable disease in flight, while Pilots-in-Command of all aircraft arriving  Nigeria from overseas are now to report to the Nigerian Air Traffic Control (ATC) any suspected case of communicable disease onboard their flight,”  Adurogboye said.

According to him, the circular also demands that “airlines ensure they have onboard valid and appropriate number of first aid kits, universal precaution kits and emergency medical kits and airlines are also mandated to refresh the knowledge of their crew members in the handling and communicating with ATC of any suspected case of communicable disease on board.

“In the case of any suspected case of communicable disease by any passenger on board an aircraft, aircrew are to fill the General Declaration (Gen Dec) and Public Health Passenger Locator forms in line with Nigerian civil aviation regulations 18.8.17.4 and 18.8.22.5 respectively.

“Completed Gen Dec and Public Health Passenger Locator forms are also to be submitted to the Port Health Services (PHS) of the destination airport,” Adurogboye added.

He added that aside the new guidelines, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Federal Ministry of Health and all other relevant agencies have taken strategic steps to ensure the virus does not creep into Nigeria through any of the international airports.

It would be recalled that about four years ago, a Liberian diplomat flew in with the virus which spread and took lives of some Nigerians including him and a female doctor in Port Harcourt before it was contained.