The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has threatened to slam $3,500 fine on airlines found carrying passengers in breach of international flight protocols.
The National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, who disclosed this while reeling out the new protocols for international flights into Nigeria during Monday’s media briefing by the task force, also revealed that incoming passengers would henceforth pay for their COVID-19 test.
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.
“We are narrowing the period of validity of PCR test from the current 14 days to 7 days from 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.
“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
“We will continue with the policy of ensuring that airlines only board passengers without symptoms of COVID-19 and with negative PCR results.
“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 center 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 went further to state that travellers into the country who are found to have evaded the repeat PCR test, adding that the PTF is working with the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) to ensure this.
“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 a travel watch list, their 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 laboratory 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”, he said.