1449 Ebola virus disease: challenges and contingencies for nigeria’s offshore industry

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Abstract

Introduction

The largest outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) was first reported by Guinea to the WHO in March 2013. From that time, the outbreak spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Nigeria. The virus was exported to Nigeria in July 2014 by a business traveller from Liberia. As of September 2014, 20 cases (including the index case) had been reported with 8 deaths. However, it is the novel challenge posed by the presence of the virus to the offshore industry in Nigeria that required offshore operators to adapt and innovate emergency and crisis preparedness measures in dealing with the EVD situation. This paper shares the experience of a major offshore exploration and production player in Nigeria in operationalizing, through an incident management system approach, the different facets of preparedness for an EVD crisis within its offshore space.

Methods

Primary data was gathered through direct observation, witnessing and participation in preparedness activities related to a potential offshore EVD case.

Results

The incident management system approach proved to be useful and adaptable to non-traditional occupational and business risks, with regards to preparedness and response. It was however clear that industry and government have a lot more to do and learn in terms of hazard identification, risk assessment and crisis preparedness of pandemics.

Conclusion

The occurrence of a suspected EVD case in any offshore installation or facility will always require a multi-sectoral response. It is a matter of national importance as for example; the principle of quarantine enforced on a host offshore facility will pose practical and epidemiological curiosity; repatriation of affected expatriate workers will require deployment of foreign diplomatic/military missions, and port control formalities installed once a case is declared in-country often requires inter-governmental collaboration. While research continues to study behaviour and pathogenicity of new viral strains of epidemic potential, industry and governments must maintain realistic and regularly ‘drilled’ pandemic preparedness plans.

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