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[LAGOS] Africa's most populous nation is stepping up measures to ensure that the country remains free of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), although the measures are taking time to go into effect.

The Nigerian government this week ordered that health experts should be immediately deployed to the country's four international airports and equipment for detecting SARS introduced.

Security agencies operating in the country's ports and along its coast have also been instructed to take steps to keep the disease out of the country.

“We are sure that there is no case of SARS yet in Nigeria, but we are a huge population, and if it comes to Nigeria, it will be a disaster,” says Nigeria's information minister, Jerry Gana. “So we want to prevent it from coming into the country."

Gana says that the country is already taking strict preventive measures. However it has been reported this week that at some airports revealed that officials have not yet begun to screen incoming travellers for SARS, as the detection equipment has not yet been installed.

Individuals in Lagos have been told to report anyone who has recently arrived from overseas and shows symptoms of SARS, while public hospitals are training their employees to detect and treat the disease.

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