By Stephen Ubanna
In spite of the news that has been making the rounds in maritime circles in the last one week that a Staff of the Nigerian Ports Authority , NPA, under the close watch of Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman, had contacted the Dreaded Wuhan of China emerged Coronavirus, Jatto Adams, a General Manager and the agency Head of Corporate and Strategic Communications, had dismissed the claims as the handiwork of mischief makers.
An aggrieved Jatto who could not hide his feelings had told those that cares to listen that
”no NPA staff has been diagnosed with the COVID 19 since the outbreak of the disease in the country ‘’. He is right. The Management had set up a well organised structure and Medical Team at the ports to ensure that Foreign vessels and their Crew members are properly scrutnised before being allowed to discharge their cargoes or perform other duties at the ports.
More so, the African countries had set up a monitoring Team at Muaritus, Mauariatanian , described as an entry route for Foreign vessels sailing into African countries . This is to ensure that suspected vessels carrying COVID 19 infected persons do not find their way into any African country seaport either in the West, Central, North or South African coast.indeed, this may have informed why there had not been no reported case of a COVID 19 person through the seaport in Africa.
Given that NPA Management has nothing to hide from Nigerians,it was ,therefore, not surprising that when this case of a staff allegedly being infected with the virus, came up, Jatto , the agency Head Corporate and Strategic Communications rose to the challenge and issued a Statement to state the Authority position.
According to him the rumour emerged when a member of staff of one of the undisclosed Terminal Operators at one of the Lagos ports ,who had been out of office for long visited his father –In-Law and Family on Friday ,April 17, 2020 and Sunday, April19, 2020 respectively.
It was learnt that on arrival at the father-In-Law, who incidentally was a Medical Doctor, and family house, there was no sign of life in it. He was said to have discovered that both the father-In-law, wife and children had taken ill. It was gathered that on Monday, April 20, 2020, the father-in-law and the immediate family members were diagnosed in one of the Nigeria center for disease control, NCDC, Testing centers in Lagos but were found to have been infected with the disease.
This may have informed why he opted to self-isolate himself in order to get tested of the disease also. He was so worried that he had to write his employers informing them about the health crisis with his family members and his decision to self Isolate. That much was also confirmed by Jatto in his Statement.
He may have realised that he was keeping away too long from office and its implications going by the country’s Industrial Law, that on Thursday, April 23, 2020, he again wrote to inform his employers that he had tested positive to the Coronavirus disease and but the entire family are now receiving treatment at one of the Isolation centers in Lagos.
Giving the Contagious effect of the pandemic, the Terminal Operator, which had engaged his services, were said to have immediately reached out to the Coordinator, Port Health services to seek advice on the guidelines laid down by the NCDC, for a reported COVID 19 incident by a company.
Acting on the advice of the port health officials, the undisclosed Terminal Operator officials were said to have disinfected the terminal at the port and those who were said to have interacted with him were identified and asked to self Isolate to avoid distributing the sickness to other workers.
This may have informed why Jatto, the NPA , spokesperson has advised Journalists to verify all information before going to press in order to avoid creating unnecessary tension in the country. He maintains that ’’ there are laid down procedures for the management of suspected COVID 19 cases at the ports, noting that the Authority will ‘’in Collaboration with other government agencies , follow these guidelines and processes through whenever the occasions arise’’.
Appealing to maritime stakeholders and for calm, Jatto had assured Nigerians that the situation is under control, an indication that there is no cause for alarm over the rumoured case as NPA , has all that it takes to handle any suspected Coronavirus incident at the ports.