Now that coronavirus is in Nigeria

This is not the best of times for global aviation community following the outbreak of the deadly CORONAVIRUS in Wuhan, China which is presently ravaging over sixty countries across the world.

Since the disease broke out, over 3,000 have died with over 90,000 already infected and quarantined across the world.

Due to the nature of the disease which easily spreads through airborne mode, government of many countries have come up with different measures such as restriction of movements and body contacts with the thorough screening of people entering their countries.

With the breakout of COVID-19, Nigeria like other countries of the world though initially did not have any record of the disease but had swung into action by announcing different measures that will prevent the spread of the disease to Nigeria.

Unfortunately, despite all the measures, an unidentified Italian imported the disease into the country on February 24, through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport.

The importation of COVID-19 killer disease into Nigeria by the Italian has brought to remembrance how in a similar manner the Liberia-born American diplomat, late Patrick Sawyer imported the deadly Ebola disease into Nigeria still through the Lagos airport in 2014.

While it would be remembered how the relevant aviation authorities in conjunction with health authorities successfully battled Ebola to the chagrin of the whole world, the same zeal is being applied by all including the state governments to curtail the spread of Coronavirus.

Since the importation of COVID-19 into Nigeria, many Nigerians have been blaming the Italian carrier for bringing trouble into the country just as it happened when the Ebola disease was spread to Nigeria.

In as much as the anger being displayed may not be out of place, one point is that it is most unlikely that the carriers of the deadly diseases deliberately chose to travel to Nigeria with the disease in their systems.

Amidst the confusion the spread of the coronavirus to Nigeria has created, one obvious fact is that aviation business particularly airline business through which means people connect the other parts of the world deserves serious attention from government of all nations.

The need to focus better attention on aviation sector becomes necessary in view of the sensitive role the sector plays as the fastest and safest means of transporting people from one country to the other.

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Without doubt air transport has become the strongest mode of transport used by people to travel because of its speed hence; this mode has the capacity to aid easy spread of airborne diseases like coronavirus  across the world.

Now that the importance of aviation, particularly airports cannot be overemphasized as it is the first point of contact that arriving passengers will have with people, time has therefore, come for the Nigerian government to offer better support to the aviation authorities including port health, representatives of the federal ministry of health at the airports.

With the importation of the coronavirus  to Nigeria through the Lagos airport, there is the urgent need for the airport authority, FAAN in particular to further strengthen the screening of inbound passengers with more attention focused on the foreign airlines.

Besides, the screening gadgets installed at the airports should be manned by qualified and patriotic airport and health officials who will not compromise safety.

Above all, while attention is being focused on incoming foreign flights and passengers, safety of workers of airports, airlines, officials of ground handling companies and other airport users should also remain paramount since they are the ones that have first contacts with incoming passengers. They should be adequately kitted with safety gadgets in the course of carrying out screening of passengers and carrying out other official duties.

Nigerian Tribune

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