The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has explained that the reinforcement of the directive that any traveller leaving the country must have yellow card document to show that he has been vaccinated against yellow fever, meningitis and others has nothing to do with the Coronavirus epidemic ravaging the world currently.
The General Manager, Public Affairs of the agency, Sam Adurogboye in a telephone interview with THISDAY, said it was a wrong impression for travellers to link the yellow card with Coronavirus, which scientists are yet to find a cure for, but noted that it is to indicate that the travellers have been vaccinated against other deadly diseases.
THISDAY also learnt that the Ministry of Health had issued a circular that yellow card must be a compulsory travel document and it is working in collaboration with NCAA to stem the spread of potential diseases like yellow fever and others that are vaccinated against for travellers.
Foreign airlines operating to the country have started full implementation of the policy by NCAA to make it compulsory that every traveller must have the yellow card and few days ago many Nigerians returning to the country from the UK were barred from boarding their flight without the card, thus leaving them stranded at the airport.
The challenge Nigerians living abroad are facing now is how to get vaccinated so that they would obtain the card.
Report indicates that yellow fever vaccine cost about £60 per dose in the UK and it describes yellow fever as a serious and potentially fatal viral disease that is spread by mosquitoes in tropical parts of Africa and South America. It occurs in both jungle and urban environments and is particularly common in the rainy season.
It is expected that the traveller would be vaccinated 10 days before embarking on his trip; the yellow fever vaccine lasts a lifetime and most people won’t need any boosters for future travel.
But Adurogboye told THISDAY that the policy had always been there and that it is not only Nigeria that made it compulsory; other countries do not admit foreign passengers into their country without the yellow card.
This in the past had caused diplomatic row between Nigeria and South Africa and Nigerians travelling to other countries have been embarrassed and some of them quarantined for not having the document.
“Compulsory yellow card as travel document is not a new thing really. It has always been there. We are having health issues and we want to check the spread. Besides, some countries are taking it very seriously; so we expect full compliant because of yellow fever outbreak.
“Some countries will vaccinate you on entry into their country without the yellow card; so it is one of the travel documents that you must have,” NCAA spokesman, Adurogboye said.
THISDAY also spoke to the General Manager; Corporate Affairs of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, who confirmed the enforcement of yellow card as a compulsory document but disclosed that in addition to having the yellow card, every passenger coming to Nigeria must have health declaration form, where detailed information about him must be factually filled.
Yakubu, emphasised that without the health declaration form filled with the necessary details about the passenger’s health status and movements before his trip to Nigeria, he would not be allowed to move to Immigration desk; rather, he would be detained until he satisfactorily filled the form.
“The yellow card is necessary and the traveller must have it but in addition to the card, he must fill the health declaration form, but if he fails to fill the form he will not be allowed to move to Immigration until he has filled the form.
“This is part of the measure we are taking to ensure that we do not allow anyone with Coronavirus into our country,” FAAN spokesperson said.
A number of countries require a yellow fever certificate, which is called the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP), but other risk destinations may not ask for a certificate, but anyone visiting a risk area needs to have the vaccination.