By Cecilia Ologunagba/Abujah Racheal
The Federal Government has activated the “Nigeria’s Point of Entry Policy on Prevention and Control of Cross Border Transmission of Yellow Fever’’ to prevent the transmission of the disease.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said this at a news conference on Friday in Abuja.
Ehanire said it was pertinent to review the policy due to ongoing transmission of yellow fever in parts of the country and in line with WHO guidelines.
He said “it was done in line with WHO recommendation for all international travellers, nine months and older persons arriving in areas with evidence of persistent or periodic transmission of yellow fever.
“Consequently, the Federal Ministry of Health requested Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to communicate this to airlines for compliance.
“Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the ministry reviewed the policy to allow passengers without Yellow Cards or proof of vaccinations to board their flights to Nigeria.
“This is with the understanding that they will be given Yellow Fever vaccination on arrival at our points of entry.”
According to him, the vaccination is free and the yellow card is at a nominal cost.
“This is in the interest of the health security of the public and all passengers; the effective date of the revised policy implementation is March 11, 2020. The revised policy had already been communicated to NCAA for airlines to be so informed.”
On COVID-19, the minister said that the WHO recently declared the disease as pandemic, an epidemic disease that has spread across a large region; for instance multiple continent or worldwide.
Ehanire said that the ministry, through Port Health Services prioritised measures for COVID-19 containment, especially the screening of passengers at points of entry.
“However, other surveillance and prevention activities, including the implementation of the policy on prevention and control of cross border transmission of yellow fever, are still very important.
“Nigerians are required to obtain yellow fever vaccination if they have not done so, and to show their yellow card or proof of vaccination before any international travel and upon arrival.
“The position of the ministry is in line with global best practices and WHO recommendations,’’ the minister added.
He urged Nigerians to take care of their health and protect others by continuing to do the following to protect themselves.
# Regular and thorough washing of hands with soap and water for at least 30 seconds; if not possible, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
# Maintain at least five metres (5 feet) distance between yourself and anyone coughing or sneezing repeatedly.
# Be sure you and people around you follow good respiratory hygiene, meaning — cover the mouth and nose with tissue paper or handkerchief if coughing or sneezing and dispose used tissue paper immediately.
# Alternatively, use your bent elbow when you cough or sneeze when tissue paper is not available.
# Not to mingle with people or to congregate, but stay at home if you feel unwell with symptoms like fever, cough, sneezing, difficulty in breathing.
In addition, he urged Nigerians to call the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) toll-free number 08009700000 for guidance.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that of the two cases of COVID-19 in the country, the contact of the index case had tested negative for the virus and the minister confirmed that he will soon be discharged from hospital.