The Nigerian government has condemned the breach of regulations by a foreign airline carrier on the repatriation of the remains of a Nigerian from Kinshasha, Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole and the Lagos State Commissioner of Health, Dr Jide Idris, in a joint statement condemned the airline for bringing in the body.
According to the statement, the airline brought the remains without all necessary documentations that are required to process its clearance by the Department of Port Health Services, Federal Ministry of Health.
It said that in line with industry practice, a report had been made to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, the regulatory agency of the Nigerian Aviation Industry on the occurrence, adding that necessary steps were being taken by the regulatory authority to sanction the airline in a bid to prevent recurrences.
In the joint statement, they said the Nigerian government had as one of the interventions undertaken during the nation’s Ebola outbreak “instituted a ban on the repatriation of human remains into the country at all points of entry as a precautionary measure to avoid importation of any infectious disease”.
They explained that the “Ministry of Health and Port Health Division issued guidelines to all airlines on the procedures to be followed to obtain a waiver before repatriating any human remains into the country.”
They said the ban and restriction was “still in force and any attempt to contravene this ban will attract serious sanction.”
The statement said that officials of Port Health, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Lagos State Ministry of Health investigated the cause of death of the human remains and took samples for laboratory investigation.
According to the statement, the laboratory report shows that there is no evidence of Ebola infection or any other contagious infections in the human remains.
“We assure everyone to go about their normal business without any anxiety. The government wants everyone to be vigilant and encourage all our officials at land, sea and air borders to continue screening of international passengers”, they said.
The statement said that Lagos State Government in collaboration with the Federal Government through the NCDC and Port Health Services had developed a public health emergency contingency plan at the airport and land borders.
It noted that the state government had put in place control measures, including disease surveillance and notification officers in all the 20 local government and 37 local council development area in the state.
The statement said other measures include reactivation of the isolation wards in the Mainland Hospital and other health facilities and restocking of infection prevention and control commodities.