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Published On: Fri, Aug 8th, 2014

Ebola: Ghana denies banning Nigerian air travellers

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Ghana-FlagBy Umar Muhammad Puma, Suleiman Idris, Lagos, Femi Oyelola, Kaduna & Doyin Ojosipe.

The Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) yesterday said it has not restricted any aircraft from Nigeria flying into its airspace as a result of the Ebola scourge currently ravaging the west coast of Africa.

The Ghana CAA, in a statement sent to its Nigeria counterpart, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) made available to journalists, said an on-line publication on the ban on Saturday, August 2 is erroneous and misleading.

The GCAA, as the sole regulator of the air transport industry and provider of air navigation service in the country, has not banned any airline from Nigeria and other African country from operating to Ghana because of suspicion that the flights might be carrying passengers with the Ebola virus, the statement read in part.

“We can confirm that flight operations to and from Nigeria and other African countries are normal without any interruption.

In a related development, the scare of dreaded deadly virus is taking its toll on Kaduna hospitals, as patients were desert some of the health facilities and seek for medical treatment within the four walls of their homes.

Investigation reveals that some of the health facilities deserted are those patronized by high-class citizens who travel abroad, especially the Ebola infected countries.

A patient, Halima Isah, who patronises health facilities located along Sultan road, told this reporter that she has temporarily stopped seeking treatment for some minor illness that can be attended to in her house.

Similarly, Alhaji Mansur Ibrahim, who has been using a health facility in the heart of Kaduna town fled the hospital three days ago, when it was alleged that there was an Ebola patient in the hospital.

“My brother, it is better to prevent than to cure. I am not the only person; everybody was running, so I don’t have any reason to remain behind. But this morning (yesterday) it was confirmed that the patient who was stooling and vomiting could be a cholera patient, but as I am talking to you now, people are still leaving the hospital,” he said.

The Kaduna state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Thot Dogo informed journalists in Kaduna yesterday, that the government is studying the development.

He however disclosed that a committee will be set up by the state government to take care of the situation, even as he assured that Kaduna state is not facing any Ebola threat.

Meanwhile, speculations over the willful termination of the 39 days-old doctor’s national strike was heightened last night, when a report came that the national industrial action has been called-off by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).

This is even as the country is facing its toughest moment, where incidents of bomb attacks have been on the increase while the nation is presently hit by the dreaded Ebola outbreak, which has killed a nurse, leaving a doctor in a critical condition and infecting some 5 more while 70 are still said to be under surveillance.

Many have thought that such pathetic condition of the country could appeal to the heart of the doctors, making them to do a u turn in their dogged decision not to resume the over one month strike.

However, in what appears to be a house being divided against itself, the NMA has come out to deny calling-off any strike, saying that it has not issued any statement to that effect and that the strike action subsists.

Meanwhile, the Liberian Ambassador to Nigeria, Prof. Alhassan Conteh has called attention to a possible stigmatisation of the Liberians in Nigeria as the case may seem in Lagos, where he claimed Liberians are being harassed and stereotyped.

He explained that the fact that the index case of Ebola outbreak was a citizen of Liberia does not mean that every Liberian is Ebola infectious and that Nigerians should learn to show solidarity, adding that one very crucial step the Liberian Government has taken was to declare a 90 days state of emergency in a bid to contain the disease.

It could be recalled that the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu had earlier said that the Ebola outbreak is a national emergency, saying that the whole world could be at risk of being infected by the virus.

Briefing House of Representatives Committee on Health, at a one-day public hearing on the virus, the minister said the Liberian, Patrick Sawyer – the man credited with bringing Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) to Nigeria ‘knew he was sick’ with the virus before entry to Nigeria.

According to him, the statistic indicated that the total of 7 people were infected with the virus in Nigeria, including the Liberian that brought the disease into the country and a nurse, who treated him recently died, making the number of the people affected to 5.

Project Director, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Prof. Abdulsalami Nasidi disclosed that Sawyer had 70 primary and secondary registered contacts, of which 39 were hospital contacts and 22 airport contacts.

Sawyer’s contacts it was disclosed comprised officers of the State Security Service (SSS), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), airport support personnel and medical personnel that attended to Sawyer.

Director, Port Health Services in the health ministry, Dr. Sani Gwarzo disclosed that restrictions have been placed on the repatriation of corpses of Nigerians abroad into the country.

In a briefing, with the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF and ECOWAS in attendance yesterday, the Minister of health also raised alarm over the disappearance of some primary contacts of the index case of Ebola outbreak, speculating that they may have mixed with the populous Nigerian crowd or taken off to other cities.

He expressed fear that the disease may have spread farther than it was initially thought; as some of the primary contacts have refuse to yield to advice , while tracing secondary contacts has proved very difficult.

As part of on-going efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria, Gwarzo said 66 personnel were required by the health ministry to man and screen travellers at the nations several travel entry points.


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