If you have been following the news lately, you must be aware that some countries, including South Africa, have issued travel alerts for travellers coming from Ebola-affected countries.
Cote d’Ivoire has also closed its borders against visitors from high-risk countries in West Africa. Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria are some of the countries with recorded cases of the Ebola Virus Disease.
Though there is no exemption for travellers from Nigeria, reports say that Sri Lanka last Saturday prevented some Nigerians on an Emirates flight from entering the country.
Nigeria has so far recorded five Ebola deaths and 14 confirmed cases. With this development, the Federal Government has increased its health and security checks at the air and land borders.
So also have other countries inaugurated some fresh strategies to contain the spread of the virus. Therefore, how prepared are you as a traveller to avoid the subtle drama and perhaps the intimidation that accompany such a screening?
For example, the United States of America has mounted Ebola screening and testing centres at its various destination airports and advised airline operators to screen their passengers ahead of their journey.
To save you the embarrassment of isolation and in some cases of being sent back home on arrival at these foreign destinations, doctors advise that it is better for you to have done some basic health checks before the date of your travel.
For instance, if you are having symptoms of malaria, which medics say mimic Ebola’s initial signs, physician, Dr. Oluseun Alaya, advises that you postpone your trip no matter how important it is until you are certified medically fit.
According to him, the health officials at the various destinations will be on the high alert when checking citizens from affected countries and they will not treat mere fever with kid gloves.
Alaya explains, “Some countries in Asia have posted doctors using thermal imaging cameras to screen out sick travellers. You may just be coughing and sneezing, once you are from an Ebola-affected country, they will frisk and quarantine you. This may not seem like a big deal to many but you have already complicated the situation for the government and other travellers.
“You will escalate panic about the country and you shall be declared a public health concern till you are certified fit. I am sure that nobody will like to go through this hassle in a foreign land, so if you are not up to travelling for long hours or you are not feeling good, postpone it till you have seen a doctor.”
Alaya adds that apart from Ebola matters, people travelling to countries that insist on the yellow fever vaccination and other immunisations must ensure that they take their vaccines to avoid any embarrassment.
He adds, “Yellow fever is a highly infectious killer disease. If you have not taken its vaccine, you are a security risk to Nigerians and the citizens of the country you are visiting. Ensure that you take it before the date of your travel. Countries, such as South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire do not joke with it.
“With the prevalent Ebola scare, they will be more thorough and the sanction will be more severe on both the individual and the government. We must all be responsible about our health. A sick or careless individual is now a considered a security risk all over the world.”
Health authorities in various countries are struggling to avert any outbreak of the EVD that has killed no fewer than 1,200 persons in West Africa by securing their borders.
Indeed, who will blame them? Hitherto, Nigeria was Ebola-free until the late Liberian-American, Patrick Sawyer, practically imported the virus into the country from Liberia on July 20, 2014.
Since July 20, five health workers have died, including the senior doctor who attended to him at a Lagos private health facility. Again, no fewer than 169 primary and secondary contacts have been under surveillance following Sawyer’s entry into Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous city.
As Alaya advises, you need not put yourself in a difficult situation. All you only need to do is to ensure that you have carried out the basic tests before travelling. That is the only elixir for peace of mind.
Agreed, you may consider it a bother to see a doctor before travelling, you would thank the medics later after passing through these rigrous screenings at the airports.
However, if your doctor says you are not fit to travel, please kindly do not embark on that journey.
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