Ebola scare at Piarco Airport in Trinidad

FuadKhan-1Trinidad, (Trinidad Express) — Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan summoned security and health officials to an emergency meeting Monday after he was caught in an Ebola bungle regarding safety and precautionary measures at the Piarco International Airport on Friday.

The meeting was held at the ministry’s head office at Park Street, Port of Spain, and was attended by officials from the National Security Operations Centre (NOC), Civil Aviation, Office of Disaster Preparedness and the Immigration Division.

Special Branch police officers and health officials were also in attendance.

The Express learned that the meeting was prompted after the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) falsely indicated that a Nigerian VIP national aboard American Airlines (AA) flight 1663 that was enroute to Trinidad from Miami was a possible Ebola case, causing a scare.

The identity of the VIP national, who was a First Class passenger aboard the AA flight, has been withheld for security reasons.

Khan, who was returning from attending The 2014 Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organisation (WHO) conference in Washington, DC was also aboard the AA flight.

Sources told the Express that as soon as the VIP national exited the aircraft he was whisked away to a room to be examined for the deadly virus.

The airport security and health officials then attempted to isolate the other passengers, including Khan, who was also seated in the First Class cabin, causing panic and alarm.

Khan, sources said, became upset as he felt the matter was being mishandled and intervened to restore calm.

Examinations conducted on the VIP national showed that he had no signs or symptoms of the Ebola virus and as a result the man was allowed to leave the airport.

Contacted Monday, Khan confirmed that the incident took place.

He said a committee led by Dr Adelle Chin was set up to deal with the international health regulations and the protocol of entry to T&T.

“From what I observed the airport workers need proper training to handle matters like these. Not because someone has a Nigerian passport means that they should be flagged. Proper procedures must be followed to avoid embarrassment,” Khan said.

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