Coronavirus Scare : NPA to open Isolation Centre at Port

MD NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has confirmed it would establish an Isolation Centre at the Lagos Port Complex by this week, to handle any suspected case of the dreaded coronavirus.

Speaking at a sensitization meeting with terminal operators at the LPC, Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, said efforts at continued exposure of the port community to the messages of precaution to be observed to prevent contact with the disease is very valuable.  

She made known that the Port Health has been on ground ensuring the port is healthy and that people working there have a good environment.

Represented by Adam Jatto, General Manager Corporate and Strategic Communications at the NPA, the Managing Director said: “The gathering is to ensure that we address this issue of coronavirus and how port users should stay protected, as we are all aware that the virus is spreading all around the world in a very rapid form.

“Of course, there is need for us to curtail it, because we have been informed that for now there is no cure for it. So, the best thing we should do is for us to have a preventive measure in place to guide against a spread through any contact.

“So, on the basis of this, we contacted the terminal operators and other stakeholders within the port for us to be able to rub minds together to see how best we can do to prevent the spread of the disease through the port.

“Of course, we have done a lot of things as the NPA to ensure that we prevent the spread of the disease, as port is one of the entry points to the country. Vital at this time is that we will open an isolation centre in the port, where any suspected case will be handled.”

She expressed satisfaction that each of the terminals had in place as discussed, basic medical materials for temperature screening and hand sanitizing for everybody going into the terminals, especially  for dockworkers who move to crew to assess the vessels.

On her part, Mrs Christy Akpa, General Manager Medical Services at the NPA, gave assurances of the NPA’s preparedness to handle any incidence should there be any suspected case on board of any ship that shows symptoms of the coronavirus.

She said: “We are collaborating with the Port Health Services of the Federal Ministry of Health and with the Lagos State Government through the Commissioner of Health.

“I want to assure everyone that we are screening temperature of every port user, and working with Port Health to ensure that all crew members on board are administered the passenger declaration form.

“The medical services of the NPA has developed a weekly log (targeted at the crew), knowing the incubation period of this coronavirus. So, we don’t just scan your temperature once and go to bed.

“We are constantly monitoring with the Port Health Services, and also keeping these log on daily and weekly basis.”

She said that as an obligation, ship captain who notice a crew member exhibiting the symptoms that have been talked about with respect to coronavirus, must fly a second yellow flag on the ship to alert the port health services and the pilots who bring in ships, that a sick person is on board, for them to take up the protocols that have been developed.

She also talked about creating an isolation centre to hold people who are sick, while they bring in the State Government that will take them to isolation centre with dedicated ambulance.

Port Manager of the LPC, Mrs Funmilayo Olotu, also talked about the importance of the isolation centre in the port, being a place of first contact with crew from ships coming from across the world.

A representative of one of the terminals, Port and Cargo Handling Services, Dr. Mike Falana, applauded the collaborative effort of the NPA and confirmed  that the terminals had held meetings with the Port Health Services in the week gone, discussing best actions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus through the port.