Fact Checking Sen. Boroface’s claims that passengers are not screened for coronavirus in Nigeria’s airports.
In the wake of the fast spreading and deadly outbreak of coronavirus, there is this widespread misinformation that the Nigerian Airports Authorities (immigration services) do not screen persons coming into the country via our airports, borders and other entry points. Other persons say the government has not put measures in place to check the spread of coronavirus in the country.
This alarm was raised today (Thursday) in plenary by Senator Ajayi Boroface, deputy senate leader representing Ondo North senatorial district.
Speaking on the floor of the senate on Thursday, Boroffice said upon his arrival at Nnamdi Azikiwe airport in Abuja from South Africa on Wednesday, passengers were only given a sheet of paper to indicate whether they were sick.
The deputy leader said that was not the case in South Africa as they were screened before he disembarked from the aircraft when he arrived in the country on Friday.
“I was in South Africa on Friday, I came back yesterday. Because of the issue of coronavirus, every country in the world is taking preventive measures because the wisdom is that prevention is better than cure. In South Africa, we were not allowed to leave the aircraft for good 30 minutes,” he said.
“Officers of the medical corps came into the aircraft and screened everybody before we were allowed out but I arrived yesterday at the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport and there was no screening.
“All we were given is a sheet of paper to indicate whether we were sick and whether we have been to one country or the other and how we will be contacted if there is an emergency. How will you trail me? How do you know if I have fallen sick. This is very frightening.”
Boroffice said measures should be taken by the authorities to prevent the virus from getting into the country.
Fact Checking these statements made by the senator
FIRST CLAIM: Persons coming into the country are not being screened for coronavirus.
VERDICT: Airport officials and port health authorities staff are actually up and doing in making sure that coronavirus do not come into the country. From pictures gotten from reliable sources and released by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, thermal scanners and hand-held automated thermometers are installed at the entrance and exit points of the various international airports in Nigeria including Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airports and Murtala Muhammed International Airport.
Airport officials at Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport and MMIA screening passengers today.. Credit: FAAN
SECOND CLAIM: Every country is taking preventive measures against Coronavirus except Nigeria.
FACT: Though you may question their information handling, Nigeria has made tremendous efforts in tackling this virus. Firstly, at the beginning of February, the federal government budgeted #620 million Naira to help in the fight against coronavirus. Secondly, this same month, the World Health Organization, in their report stated that Nigeria among 6 other countries have standard lab for the diagnosis of COVID-19. Thirdly, the Honorable Minister of Health, while meeting with the Senate Committee on Health stated that the federal government has set up diagnostic and treatment centres in Edo, Abuja, and Lagos. Just, yesterday, the chinese man rumoured to have contracted coronavirus in Reddington Hospital, Lagos was promptly isolated and tested by the Lagos State government in collaboration with the Federal government. According to the BBC, his investigation results was later confirmed negative by the NCDC.
There are the links showing government efforts so far in curbing the virus …
1. Federal Government has budgeted N620million to tackle coronavirus – Health Minister
2. Nigeria among six African Countries with standard labs to diagnose coronavirus – WHO
3. Federal government set up diagnostic and treatment centres for coronavirus
4. Federal government release coronavirus emergency numbers
THIRD CLAIM: “All we were given is a sheet of paper to indicate whether we were sick and whether we have been to one country or the other and how we will be contacted if there is an emergency.”
FACT: This is in tandem with universal health practices and it is done to make contact tracing in case of emergency easy.
My Personal Views
The Nigerian government has made efforts to ensure the deadly COVID-19 do not enter the country but their problem is in the dissemination of relevant information on coronavirus to its citizens. These lapses in information sharing is what is causing the misinformation, fake news and apprehension among Nigerians.