The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic has declared that henceforth airlines that fail to comply with international flight protocols will be slammed $3,500 fine per passenger.
The National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, made this disclosure while reeling out the new protocols for international flights into Nigeria during Monday’s briefing by the task force.
He also disclosed that, henceforth, passengers who on self-quarantine who fail to show up for a repeat of the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test will have his/her name on an international watch list and electronic passport suspended.
Aliyu, who explained that the new protocols would be strictly applicable to passengers coming into the country from the foreign countries, also said the PTF had come to the conclusion that it would now be safe to shorten the isolation period for incoming passengers from 14 days now to eight days from August 29th.
‘From the 29th of August, travellers will be required to pay for their COVID-19 test in-country. We are developing a national payment portal, which will link to the current Lagos payment portal that is already active,’ he stated.
‘We will continue with the policy of ensuring that airlines only board passengers without symptoms of COVID-19 and with negative PCR result. Airlines will be fined $3,500 per passenger if they fail to comply with pre-boarding COVID-19 requirements.
‘On arrival in-country from the 29th of August, passports will no longer be retained by the Nigerian Immigration Service, rather, passengers will be allowed to proceed and exit the airport once they can show evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR result, evidence of payment for a PCR result in-country and where possible and where we have been able to sort this health questionnaire form that has been submitted either manually or electronically.
‘Passengers will be asked to proceed on self-isolation at home for a period of seven days. On day seven, they will proceed to sample collection centre or laboratory for a repeat COVID-19 PCR test, by day eight, if the PCR test is negative, they will be allowed to exit isolation.
‘Based on a rigorous scientific review, the PTF has decided that it will be safe to shorten the current quarantine period or self-isolation for passengers coming into the country from 14 days to eight days, provided they have a negative PCR test result from day seven.
‘Passengers will be monitored by public health officers throughout the period of self-isolation, those who develop symptoms will be treated in the same way that we currently manage our COVID-19 positive patients,’ he said.
He said the protocol that has just been approved will be reviewed after four weeks and ‘we will also be looking at the level of discrepancy between positive results with a view to developing a list of accredited laboratories for countries we frequently receive travellers from.
‘In that regard, once we have a list of regulated laboratories, we would insist that all passengers use these centres for the test.
‘All intended travellers to Nigeria must have tested negative for COVID-19 PCR before allowed entry into the country.
‘We are narrowing the period of validity of PCR test from the current 14 days to 7 days from the 29th of August. Preferably, the PCR test should be done as close as possible to the point of departure for Nigeria, preferably from 48 to 72 hours, but we will still accept results that are valid for 7 days.
‘Prior to boarding, we are currently developing a payment portal. As you are aware, at the moment, the PCR test that we have been doing for evacuated passengers has been sponsored by Aliko Dangote Foundation. “We are very grateful for their generosity, we have had more than 13,000 stranded Nigerians brought into the country as a result of this process. But from the 29th August, travellers will be required to pay for their COVID-19 test in-country.
‘We are developing a national payment portal which we will link to the current Lagos payment portal that is already active for passengers and we will allow accredited, validated private laboratories to provide these services.
‘We will provide you with additional information on the payment portals and information on the list of accredited private laboratories providers as well as collection centres across the country on the payment platform as well as the NCDC website.’
The Coordinator added: ‘On arrival in-country, from the 29th of August, passports will no longer be retained by the Nigeria immigration service, rather passengers will be allowed to proceed and exit the airport once they have a negative COVID PRC result, evidence of payment for a repeat PRC result in-country and where possible and where we have been Anele to sort out, health questionnaire which must have been submitted either manually or electronically.
‘Passengers will be asked to proceed on self-isolation at home for a period of seven days. On day seven, they will proceed on their sample collection centre or laboratories for a repeat COVID PRC result. So on the eighth, if the PRC test is negative, they will be allowed to exit isolation.’
He said in terms of ensuring compliance with the COVID-19 protocols, ‘we are currently working with Nigeria Immigration Service to design a system that will allow us to determine those who have not submitted themselves for a repeat of PRC test from day seven upwards.
‘These passengers may be sanctioned with inclusion on travel watch lost, the electronic passport suspended for a period of time if they decline to have a repeat PRC test or disappear from the isolation process.
‘We will continue to pay very close attention to laboratories accreditation throughout the country as well as outside the country.
‘These protocols will be reviewed in four weeks to ensure that results we are getting from passengers pre-boarding will continue to be reliable and if there is a need to review this policy it will be done.’
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