Coronavirus outbreak: NCAA puts airlines on alert

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has put all Airline Operators, Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP) and Aerodrome Operators in the country on alert over the outbreak of Coronavirus.

Following this, all aviation stakeholders according to the regulatory body are to note that, the novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov) broke out in Wuhan City, Hubei Province in China recently.

The clinical signs and symptoms of the virus are mainly fever and difficulty in breathing (Coughing, sneezing etc.) Presently the virus has spread to other countries including Thailand, Republic of Korea, United States of America (USA) and Japan.

NCAA in a circular issued this evening and signed by the Acting Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Sidi Abdullahi with reference number NCAA/DG/AMS/Vol. 1. /30, the Regulatory Authority called for a high level of vigilance by Airlines (especially those operating international and regional flights), all designated point of entries (POEs) and the travelling public.

In the letter sent to the airlines, NCAA stated: “all operators are therefore required to carry out the following: Pilots in Command (PIC) of aircraft are to report to the Air Traffic Control (ATC) any suspected cases of communicable disease on board an aircraft in line with Nig. CARs 18.8.22.4.

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“In case of a suspected case of communicable disease onboard an aircraft, the aircrew are to fill the aircraft General Declaration (Gen Dec) in line with Nig. CARs 18.8.17.4 and Annex 8 of International Health Regulations (IHR 2005).Completed aircraft General Declaration are to be submitted to the Port Health Services (PHS) on arrival at the designated point of entry.

“Sick passengers on board an aircraft are to be required by the crew to fill a Passenger Locator form in line with Nig.CARs 18.8.22.5. The completed Passenger Locator Forms are to be submitted to Port Health Services (PHS) on arrival at the designated point of entry. Airlines are to have onboard the appropriate number of First Aid Kits, Universal Precaution kits and Emergency Medical kits according to the provisions of Nig.CARs 7.9.1.11 and 7.9.1.12.

“Airlines are to update the knowledge of their crew members in the handling of communicable disease onboard an aircraft. Cabin crew should follow the operational procedures recommended by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and their airlines’ Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) in handling possible cases of communicable diseases on board an aircraft. They are to ensure that passengers with symptoms of acute respiratory infection exercises cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues and wash hands thoroughly.

NCAA urged that passengers should be encouraged by the crew to self-report if they feel ill while airlines are to contact Port Health Services for clearance before importing human remains into the country.

The circular also said that the “designated Points of Entries are to ensure (i) stakeholders collaboration in the handling of a suspected case of communicable disease in line with their respective Public Health Emergency Contigency Plans (PHECPs), (ii) Routine measures, train staff, provide appropriate space, stockpiling of adequate equipment (including Personal Protective Equipment) should be in place at Points of Entries for assessing and managing ill travelers detected before travel, on board aircraft and on arrival,(iii) Procedures and means are in place for communicating information on ill travelers between aircraft and point of entries as well as between POEs and National Health Authorities (iv) Safe transportation of symptomatic passengers to hospitals or designated facilities for clinical assessment and treatment is organized.

Airlines and Point of Entries (POEs) are to report to the Authority in writing any suspected case of communicable disease observed in flight or at any Point of Entry (POE) – International Airport.

The NCAA, therefore, called for strict compliance to the Standard and Recommended Practices (SARPs) as enumerated above warning that failure to adhere to these guidelines will be viewed seriously by the Authority.

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