The spread of the Ebola Virus Disease to the United States and some European countries has forced many Nigerian travellers to cancel their flights to some of the affected countries.
This is even as health and immigration officials at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos have been ordered to properly screen passengers coming into the country from the affected countries.
The European countries of Spain and Norway have recorded cases of Ebola, with medical workers outside a hospital in Spain protesting over suspected cases of the disease.
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that some passengers billed to travel from Nigeria had been cancelling their flights over renewed fears of the deadly disease.
Mrs. Tope Philips, who was booked to travel on Delta Air flight to the US on Monday, cancelled the booking and opted to go to a Far East country for her vacation.
“Ebola is very deadly and it is better to stay away and prevent it as much as possible. I will go to the Far East, maybe Jordan or Qatar, for my annual vacation and visit the US maybe next year. It is too dicey to take a risk now,” she said.
Another passenger, Mr. Wilson Johnson, a Nigerian based in Ghana, said he had postponed his business trip to the US till December.
“Thank God I am in a position to shelve the meeting. I cannot go now because my wife also called me from Accra, advising me not to go to the US now. They may not be as serious there as the Nigerian government that took charge of the Ebola situation,” Johnson said.
An official of Delta Airlines, who gave her name as Marylyn Thomas, said that since Ebola hit the US, some passengers had rescheduled or cancelled their flights.
“It is becoming a serious issue and I think everyone is trying to be careful since the news broke out. Already, some passengers are showing serious concerns and some have gone as far as cancelling or rescheduling their flights,”Thomas said.
Sources at the Aviation ministry and the Port Health Authority also said on Wednesday that officials had been told to intensify the screening process of people arriving from countries with reported cases of the EVD.
An official of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, who did not want to be quoted, confirmed the development and told our correspondent that it was important not to take chances in the light of current happenings in the United States, Spain and Norway.
“We just have to be careful to prevent any possible spillover since people come in from all parts of the world. We are battle ready to intensify screening and prevent any case in Lagos and Nigeria generally,” he said.
An official of the Port Health Authority, who gave her name as Mrs. Esther Awoyemi, said officials had been kept on alert and that checks had been intensified since the fresh case of the EVD was reported in the US.
She said, “As you are aware, the confirmed patient in US is dead. We have been instructed to take special care, especially with incoming passengers from the affected countries; and now, we are to be cautious of European and US passengers.
“The ministry does not want a reoccurrence of what happened here a few months back; some countries are beginning to look up to us for strategies on how to contain the disease; so, we have to do everything to ensure that we do not have fresh cases.”