Kilimanjaro International Airport issues red alert on Ebola threat

Health experts in northern Tanzania are keeping a tight watch around the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) following red alerts of an eminent spread of the Ebola virus that is taking toll on West Africa.

The Kilimanjaro Airport Development Company (KADCO) director of operations and technical services, Christopher Mkoma says that currently health officials have increased their monitoring undertakings and are maintaining tight restrictions around the airfield.

"Our health personnel are maintaining a tight surveillance at KIA, the second largest airport in the country, monitoring developments of a new outbreak of the deadly Ebola in western Africa," Mr Mkoma told media at the weekend.

Though not a single Ebola case has so far been reported in Tanzania, experts have strongly
warned people around the vast periphery from interacting with anybody reportedly being sick on the borders.

The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has deployed medics and installed a temporary clinic at KIA as a precaution and rapid test in case of Ebola-infected entrants.

The deployed health workers examine arriving passengers well before they allow them to proceed to immigration desks, to minimize inadvertent spread of the virus if one is already on the queue with unprepared passengers or officials around him or her, the official noted.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) had also deployed experts to train KIA workers and in other airports in the sub-region on the rapid testing of Ebola virus.

"We also apply Advanced Passenger Information methods by tracing passengers from where they come from," he said, identifying it as also to mark out possible narcotic drug carriers.

KADCO had in collaboration with the ministry also embarked on an awareness campaign targeting other aviation stakeholders.

Posters and brochures on symptoms of the fatal disease and appropriate preventive measures were distributed at KIA as part of the campaign.

KADCO business development manager Christine Mwakatobe said that with KIA emerging overall winner of the Routes Africa Airport Award 2014, the airport management had to beef up surveillance to ensure passengers were safe.

"We have more than doubled our health and safety surveillance staff to ensure that the safety status of the airport is not tainted,” she said.

via IPP's The Guardian on Sunday