Suspension of flights to Liberia by a major airline in Nigeria, some passengers to Monrovia and Banjul are now stranded in some parts of the country, including Lagos.
At the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos, on Monday, our correspondent observed that some stranded passengers were trying to make alternative plans to travel to Monrovia.
Interestingly, some of them were Nigerians and they wondered why there was such a drastic measure to cut off some countries on the continent because of the deadly Ebola Virus.
Some airlines had announced the suspension of flights from Nigeria to Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Gambia, a move taken to curb the spread of the virus.
A major Nigerian airline had also announced the suspension of flights to Monrovia and Banjul as from Monday.
Only one airline in Nigeria operates commercial flights to international destinations.
It was learnt that some of the stranded passengers had opted to fly to Ghana or Benin Republic first, before connecting another flight to their destinations.
A Liberian, Mr. Michael Nelson, told our correspondent that he had been coming to Nigeria on a regular basis in the past five years without any problem until now.
“I come to Lagos regularly because of the nature of my job in Monrovia. I still believe there are ways of checking any form of virus without a total blanket on flight operations. This is so sad. I am trying to get a Ghana or Togo flight now and from there, I will connect to Liberia,” Nelson said.
A Nigerian, Charles Okoye, who has also been affected by the turn of event, was furious, lamenting that the development had affected his appointment in The Gambia.
An official of one of the airlines, who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, described the development as a short-term measure.
Scientists demand emergency response mechanism
Scientists under the aegis of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria in Cross River State have called on the Federal Government to urgently put in place effective emergency response mechanism to prevent the outbreak of the Ebola virus in the country.
They made their position known on Tuesday at a one-day workshop in Calabar titled, ‘Ebola Virus: An emerging global challenge.’
Chairman of the association, Gloria Archibong, said it had become imperative for the Nigeria public to be properly educated as the threat was on the increase daily.
She appealed to the Federal Government to ensure that mechanisms were put in place to check the virus in the country.
She said, “If the virus has come as close as Ghana, and there has been report of another Liberian who flew into the country, then it is only wise for us to put effective emergency response mechanism in place and also enlighten the people on its prevention because the virus has no cure for now.
“I also want to believe that the virus is not here. But the reason why Cross River may be at risk is because we actually have bat eating communities and we are a bush meat eating people too.
“Fruits, bats and monkeys are the major reservoirs of the virus, the Federal Government really needs to sensitise our people.”
Also speaking, a consultant microbiologist at the University of Calabar, Prof. Michael Useh, said it was time for Nigeria to take the threat of the various serious.
“It is possible for the virus to come into the country due to the nature of the outbreak, which was discovered in 1976 and has since been occurring and recurring. It is important we put measures in place to fight it.
“If it can come to Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana, then we must be prepared. We must rigorously enlighten Nigerians because the mortality rate of the virus is about 90 per cent and it has no known cure for now.
“Some species of bat are responsible for the virus. Even though we have not carried out epidemiology test, we have high rain forest zones and when this virus was first discovered, it was carried by bats in a rainforest zone,” Useh said.
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