Ebola: FG, Lagos to sanction Kenya Airways over corpse repatriation

Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole

THE Federal and Lagos State Governments may impose sanctions on Kenya Airways for conveying a corpse from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) without necessary approval even as laboratory test conducted on the body revealed that the cause of death was not Ebola Virus disease.
Also, contrary to speculations that the corpse was brought to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), the Management said the body was not taken to LUTH but quarantined at the airport.

In his reaction, the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole who paid an unscheduled visit to the Muritala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos to assess Port Health preparedness against bio-threats, ordered immediate review and replacement of current handheld screeners with auto thermal ones.
He said: “I also recommended sanctions for Kenya Airways.”

Similarly, at a joint press conference in Lagos, representative of the Minister of Health, Dr. Joshua Obasanya also said a letter of investigation had been forward to the Kenyan Airline to explain why the airline flew a corpse from DRC into Nigeria without the necessary approval.
Commenting on the issue, the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris said the Kenyan airline conveyed the deceased to Nigeria against the extant regulation.

According to him, the airline brought the remains of the Nigerian without all necessary documentations that are required to process its clearance by the Department of Port Health Services, Federal Ministry of Health.

Faulting the airline’s action, Idris said: “In line with industry practice, a report has been made to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the regulatory agency of the Nigeria aviation industry on the occurrence. Necessary steps are being taken by the regulatory authority to sanction the airline in a bid to prevent future occurrence. We have commenced detailed investigation by all relevant agencies of government to determine the immediate and remote intentions of this unfortunate behaviour.”

Idris recalled that the Federal Government instituted a ban on the repatriation of human remains into the country in all points of entry as a precautionary measure to avoid importation of any infectious disease, saying that the ban was one of the interventions the nation undertook during the Ebola outbreak.
He said the Federal Ministry of Health and Port Health Division issued guidelines to all airlines on the procedures to be followed to obtain a waiver before repatriating any human remains into the country.

“As soon as the corpse was brought in from DRC, the officials of Port Health, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Lagos State Ministry of Health investigated the cause of death of the remains and took samples for laboratory investigation.  The laboratory report showed that there was no evidence of Ebola infection or any other contagious infections on the corpse, while assuring everyone to go about their normal business without any anxiety.
He said if it was found that the airline breached the necessary protocols, it would be sanctioned appropriately, saying that the government was waiting for the airline’s response to the letter.