Ebola virus disease (EVD) or Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is the human disease caused by ebola viruses. Symptoms start two days to three weeks after contracting the virus with a fever, throat and muscle pains, and headaches. There is then nausea, vomiting and diarrhea along with decreased functioning of the liver and kidneys. At this point some people begin to have problems with bleeding. The disease is first acquired by a population when a person comes into contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected animal such as a monkey or fruit bat.
Arik Air has announced suspension of its flight operations to Liberia and Sierra Leone following the death of a Liberian, Patrick Sawyer, who reportedly died of Ebola disease last week at First Consultants Medical Centre Ltd, Obalende, Lagos State.
The airline operator also advised Federal Government to immediately suspend all inbound flights into Nigeria from any of the Ebola affected countries.
Ola Adebanji, Arik Air General Manager, Public Relations, who confirmed the suspension of flights to Vanguard reporter said: “As a result of the first Ebola virus death officially confirmed in Lagos, and involving a Liberian national who flew on a foreign (non-Nigerian) based airline from Monrovia via Lome (Togo) into the city last week, Arik Air will be suspending operations into Monrovia (Liberia) and Freetown (Sierra Leone) effective July 28, 2014.”
“The suspension will be in force until further notice. This decision is a pre-cautionary measure aimed at safeguarding the precious lives of Nigerians. Arik Air is taking this important measure as a concerned corporate citizen bearing interest of Nigerians at heart.”
The airline while acknowledging the preventive measures taken by the Federal Government to curtail the spread of the virus said: “However, we feel compelled to take the decision to immediately suspend services into the two Ebola affected countries due to our interest in the wellbeing of Nigerians.”
Adebanji recalled that Gambian government also stopped airlines, including Arik Air, from bringing inbound passengers from Monrovia, Conakry, Guinea, and Freetown into Banjul during the early stages of the development across West Africa.
“Hence, in line with the actions taken by the Gambian Government, we trust, and are confident, that the Federal Government of Nigeria shall take all steps necessary to control and curtail the spread of the virus. We humbly suggest that as a first step, all inbound flights into Nigeria, originating from any of the Ebola-affected countries, be immediately suspended.”
Patrick Sawyer reportedly flew into Nigeria onboard Asky Airline to attend an ECOWAS conference in Calabar, Cross River State, when he fell ill and was later diagnosed of the dreaded Ebola virus at First Consultants Medical Centre Ltd, Obalende, Lagos.
Reuters reports that Ebola has killed over 632 people across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since an outbreak began in February 2014, straining a string of weak health systems despite international help.