Following the outbreak of Coronavirus also known as COVID-19, the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) has placed vessels coming into the country from Asia on red alert, due to the high rate of infection from the region.
As a further measure, the NPA said it has agreed with shipping companies to divert vessels whose crewmembers’ are showing symptoms of the virus from Mauritius, which is regarded as the gateway to Africa.
The Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman, disclosed this at a sensitisation programme for terminal operators, shipping companies and Dockworkers at the Lagos ports complex, Apapa.
Represented by the General Manager Corporate and Strategic Communications, Adams Jatto she said personnel from the Port Health are fully on ground to avoid the spread of the virus through the ports.
She stressed the need for the support of all stakeholders to forestall the spread of the virus at the nation seaport.
The NPA boss said the authority has commenced plan to set up isolation centers at the ports to curb the spread of the virus from the seaports.
She said, “We are aware that the virus is spreading round the world in a very rapid form and of course there is need for us to curtail it, and we have been informed that there is no cure to this disease and the best thing for us to do is to have a precautionary preventive measure for us to ensure that it does not spread, so on the basis of this we have to call the terminal operators and of course the stakeholders for us to rub minds together and see how best we can do to curtail this menace.
“Of course, we have done a lot of things on the part of NPA to ensure we prevent the spread of this disease, as we know the port is one of the entry points into the country, that is why we deem it fit for us to discuss what we have done and of course what is expected of the terminal operators for them to be able to curtail this menace.
“We have had collaborative efforts for us to fight this disease, we have seen what they have done, and the necessary medical materials are in each of the terminals.”
“We have been told they have sanitisers as preventive measure for dock workers who access the vessels and there are things they said we should do which I believe the management will be able to take care of,” she said.
In her presentation, the Director Medical Services, NPA, Christy Akpa, said South Korea and Japan report more cases of coronavirus, while another Chinese city near the eastern Asian countries was stepping up restrictions on travelers.
Akpa, said the agency was already making arrangement for isolation centre to hold the people that are sick on board vessels.
“I want to assure the whole nation that NPA is well prepared to handle any incident of suspected case of coronavirus on board.
“We are collaborating with port health services of the Federal Ministry of Health and we are also in collaboration with the Lagos state government through the Commissioner of Health and I want to assure everyone that we are screening temperature of every port users.
“We are also working with port health to ensure that all the crew on board are administered the passengers declaration form and also we have developed a weekly log, knowing the incubation period of this coronavirus, so we don’t just scan your temperature, once like that, we are constantly monitoring and keeping this log on daily basis, even when there is no confirmed incident,” she stated.
“We are making arrangement for isolation centres to hold this people that are sick, while we bring in the state government that will isolate all, take them to isolation centres with dedicated isolation ambulances.
“We have already heightened our alert on ships that are coming from Iran, Taiwan China or any other countries that have been affected by this virus.
When these ship berth, we don’t just leave them, we continue to monitor until the ship sails out of our territorial waters. It is mandatory that we continue to monitor to ensure that we fight this virus,” she said.
A Nigerian at the weekend tested positive to Coronavirus, in the United States, the Mayor of Washington DC, Muriel Bowser said.
Announcing this at a press briefing yesterday, she said the Nigerian who passed through the US capital city underwent the test in Maryland, and that the state has commenced contact tracing on those he met in Washington DC.