The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has expressed shock over the failure of the authorities at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, to put measures in place to screen passengers, who use the airport four days after the confirmation of the spread of Ebola Virus Disease in Rivers State.
In a statement issued in Port Harcourt on Sunday, the State Chairman of TUC, Mr. Chika Onuegbu, pointed out that not even temperature check device had been placed anywhere within the airport.
Just when the nation was heaving a sigh of relief that the case of Ebola infection had been limited to one person in Lagos State, the announcement was made that a Nigerian diplomat, who had primary contact with the index case, the late American-Liberian, Patrick Sawyer, had escaped from the isolation centre in Lagos to Rivers, where he was secretly treated in a hotel by a medical doctor.
The diplomat was cured of the disease but the doctor who treated him, Dr. Iyke Enemuo, got infected in the process and died. Following the confirmation that he died of Ebola, over 160 persons, have been kept under isolation to observe if they have the disease.
Describing the absence of screening equipment as callous and irresponsible, Onuegbu urged authorities of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to ensure that passengers entering and exiting the Port Harcourt Airport were checked.
According to Onuegbu, this will help in efforts towards containing the Ebola virus in the state.
“The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, Rivers State, is shocked that despite the confirmation of Ebola Virus Disease in Rivers State that the authorities of Port Harcourt International Airport have not put anything in place to check passengers entering and leaving the airport.
“Not even the temperature check device is in the airport. We view this as callous and irresponsible and immediately call on the authorities of FAAN, NCAA and all agencies in the Port Harcourt International Airport to immediately ensure that they check all passengers entering and leaving the airport”, Onuegbu stressed.
He pointed out that the TUC were of the view that the Nigerian diplomat that brought the disease from Lagos might have been detected and stopped had FAAN authorities at the airport done what was expected of them.
The state TUC chairman, however, called on the Ministers of Health and Aviation to ensure that such facilities at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos to detect the disease, were also put in place at the Port Harcourt International Airport.