New COVID-19 Variant: Proactive measures in place at MMIA – Port Health

Precautions Implemented at MMIA - Port Health in Response to New COVID-19 Variant

Our mandate is health safety and security at the point of entry, and it covers both routine and emergencies

The Port Health Services (PHS) at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, said it has taken proactive measures to prevent importation of the new COVID-19 variant into the country.

The Officer-in-Charge, Omede Ogu, gave the assurance in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday.


Mr Ogu said information on the new variant has been placed on the PHS emergency platform, and other agencies at the airport are also informed of the emergency.

“Our mandate is health safety and security at the point of entry, and it covers both routine and emergency situations,” he said.

“The ambulances are in good condition, and our clinics around the tarmac are in the perfect shape to review any form of emergency, and facilities are inspected daily.”

He said personnel are trained weekly to keep them abreast of steps to take when confronted with emergencies like this.

“Our personnel are on the ground, and our structures are constantly reviewed, so we assure everyone that there is absolutely nothing to worry about,” he said.

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New variant

The United Kingdom (UK) had on Friday announced the detection of its first case of the new COVID-19 variant, BA.2.86.

The UK authority said the strain has also been identified in Israel, Denmark, and the United States.

It said the case was confirmed in an individual with no recent travel history, which suggests a degree of community transmission within the UK.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US health authorities had, on Thursday, said they were closely monitoring a new variant of COVID-19, although the potential impact of BA.2.86 is currently unknown.

Nigeria and the UK record a high volume of travelers who shuttle between both countries regularly.


Mr. Ogu said the PHS collaborates with Emergency Operation Centres (EOCs) across the country, involving stakeholders who deliberate on different strategies and containment mechanisms for emergencies.

He said there are cameras on the tarmac that capture the body temperature of passengers.

“For every passenger arriving at the airport, the first point of call is the port health services, and they are screened to check for irregularities in body temperature,” he said.

“The instruments are categorized into three: the hand-held thermometer, a tripod tarmac scanner, and the distant tarmac camera.”

According to him, the distant tarmac camera is the most effective because it captures everyone and all the health information, and port health officials see the result on the screen.

“We intend to get more cameras in the nearest future for more effective coverage and optimal reporting,” he said.

He urged Nigerians not to panic, noting that the new variant is still at the observatory level.

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