By Ejike Ejike, Abuja
Following the ban on flights from Brazil, India and Turkey by the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19, the federal government said it would implement the directive at the Lagos, Abuja airports and other ports of entry.
The airport manager, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Mahmud Sani, who confirmed to have received the directive, said among the countries listed, Abuja receives flights from only Turkey daily, with an average of 150 to 200 passengers daily.
India and Brazil do not operate direct commercial flights to Abuja as their flights mostly come in through Ethiopian Airlines, which would stop over at Addis Abba.
Also, general manager, corporate communication, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Henrietta Yakubu said “we will ensure that no one is coming in from the aforementioned countries without properly complying with the PSC’s regulations on COVID-19.
“Also, we are observing the COVID-19 protocols such as wearing of mask, observing social distancing, hand washing and use of sanitisers.”
Recall that the chairman, Presidential Steering Committee, on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, stated the measures that shall apply to airlines and passengers.
who fail to comply with I and II(a) above: i. Airlines shall mandatorily pay a penalty of $3,500 for each defaulting passenger.
ii. Non-Nigerians will be denied entry and returned to the country of embarkation at cost to the Airline.
“Nigerians and those with permanent resident permit shall undergo seven days of mandatory quarantine in a government approved facility at the point-of-entry city and at cost to the passenger. The following condition shall apply to such passengers:
i. Within 24 hours of arrival shall take a COVID-19 PCR test
ii. If positive, the passenger shall be admitted within a government-approved treatment centre, in line with National treatment protocols.
iii. If Negative, the Passenger shall continue to remain in quarantine and made to undergo a repeat PCR test on day seven of their quarantine.
“Passenger(s) arriving in Nigeria from other destinations. Must observe a seven day self-isolation at their final destination. Carry out a COVID-19 PCR test on day 7 at selected laboratory. Shall be monitored for compliance to isolation protocol by appropriate authorities” .
The PSC chairman, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) said this regulation, however, does not apply to passengers who transited through these countries.
He also said passengers who provide false or misleading contact information would be liable to prosecution.
“Person who willfully disregard or refuse to comply with directions of Port-Health staff, security agencies or evade quarantine shall be prosecuted in accordance with the law,” he said.
The chairman said that state governments were required to ensure that all returning travelers from all countries were monitored to ensure adherence to the mandatory seven-day self-isolation period and the repeat COVID-19 PCR test on the seventh day after arrival.
He stated that this travel advisory shall come into effect from May 4, 2021.
Meanwhile, head, technical secretariat of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Dr Mukhtar Muhammad has urged Nigerians to continue to follow all of the legislation and guidelines in place to protect themselves from COVID-19 contamination, warning that the third wave of the pandemic, based on how it has swept through other parts of the world, is on its way to infect Nigeria, particularly because the country has already reopened its economy to the rest of the world.
On the prospect of a third wave, Muhammad said that there can be no question about it, stating that it is only a matter of time, and urging all people to continue to follow all previous guidelines.
According to him, “We are not doing anything for the purpose of doing it, but it is critical that we look at what is going on across the world and ensure that we defend our country,” he said. The fact that the amount of cases in this country is not increasing does not imply that we are resistant to COVID-19 or that we are totally protected.
“The third wave is just a matter of time, based on how things are moving right now. It isn’t a question of if, but rather when it would happen. As a result of the steps that have been outlined, we must strive to ensure that we cooperate and that our society and neighbourhoods are protected.”
Also, the director of the Ports Health Service, Geoffrey Okatubo has said Ports officials will begin rapid diagnostic test on crew members in order to tackle the influx of COVID-19 through the Ports from the affected countries.
He said the Ports health service has followed the directive of the PSC and this would be implemented to the later.