Lagos, – The Officer-in-Charge, Port Health Services (PHS), Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Dr Omede Ogu, said on Friday that proactive measures had been taken to prevent the new COVID-19 variant from slipping into the country.
Ogu gave the assurance in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
Recall that the United Kingdom detected its first case of the new COVID-19 variant, BA.2.86, on Aug. 18, and said the strain had also been identified in Israel, Denmark and the US.
“There is currently one confirmed case in the UK in an individual with no recent travel history, which suggests a degree of community transmission within the UK,” the UK Health Security Agency had said.
Nigeria and the UK record a high volume of travellers who shuttle between both countries on regular basis.
Ogu said that information on the new variant had been placed on the Port Health Services Emergency Platform, while other agencies at the airport had also been informed about it.
“ Our mandate is health safety and security at the point of entry and it covers both routine and emergency situations.
“The new variant has been placed on the Port Health services emergency platform and we have also informed sister agencies at the airport of its existence and they are also on the alert.
“The ambulances are in good condition and our clinics round the tarmac are in the perfect shape to review any form of emergency, and facilities are inspected daily.
“Personnel are trained on a weekly basis and this training is called Weekly Pretentious Infection Training. The purpose of this training is to keep our personnel abreast of steps to take when confronted with emergencies like this.
“ Our personnel are on ground and our structures are constantly reviewed, so we assure everyone that there is absolutely nothing to be worried about,” he said.
Ogu said that the Port Health Service collaborates with Emergency Operation Centres (EOCs) across the country involving stakeholders who deliberate on different strategies and containment mechanisms for emergencies.
He said that there were cameras at the tarmac that capture the body temperature of passengers when they alight from the plane.
“For every passenger arriving at the airport, the first point of call is the port health services, and they are screened to check for irregularities in body temperature.
“The instruments are categorised into three: the hand held thermometer, a tripod tarmac scanner and the distant tarmac camera,” he said.
According to him, the distant tarmac camera is the most effective because it captures everyone and all the health information, and port health officials see the result on the screen.
“We intend to get more cameras in the nearest future for more effective coverage and optimal reporting,” he said.
He urged Nigerians not to panic, noting that the new variant was still at the observatory level. (NAN)