Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The federal government has moved forward the planned evacuation of the first batch of Nigerians from the United States from Sunday to tomorrow.
The Consulate General of Nigeria in New York said in a statement that the Nigerians would be evacuated by Ethiopian Airlines, which will depart the Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey, tomorrow and arrive at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on Sunday.
The consulate, in the statement given to journalists yesterday, said only 270 passengers would be accommodated in the first batch.
It stated that the missions would, therefore, attend to applicants on a first come, first served basis and would prioritise the list of evacuees according to their immigration status.
This, it said, included consideration for those stranded with proof of short stay visas, the elderly, families with children and returning students.
“The Consulate General of Nigeria in New York, on behalf of the Nigerian Missions in United States of America (USA), wishes to refer to our earlier public notice dated on May 3, 2020 and to announce a change in the flight plans. “Accordingly, the new flight will be Ethiopian Airlines – No. ET 8509 on Saturday, May 9, 2020. The flight itinerary for the evacuation is as follows:
“This new arrangement replaces Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 509, which was earlier scheduled on May 10, 2020. However, those already booked on ET 509 will now be transferred by the airline to the new flight ET 8509 on Saturday, May 9, 2020. The Ethiopian Airlines regrets any inconveniences this change might cause travellers.
“Consequently, all intending evacuees are expected to book and pay for their one-way economy class ticket with Ethiopian Airlines flight no: ET 8509.
“The consul advised evacuees to be at the airport four hours in advance, as temperature checks would be carried out in accordance with Pre-Departure Infection Prevention Control (lPC) measures,” it added.
It noted that any prospective evacuee with a temperature above 38 degrees centigrade or visually observed to have any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, would not be allowed to check in, adding that Ethiopian Airlines’ rules would apply for the flight.
It explained that the rules included a baggage restriction that only allows for two pieces of 23 kilogrammes each as checked-in baggage and seven kilogrammes for a carry-on piece.
It said while onboard, all prospective evacuees would be required to have a hand sanitiser, which should be applied before boarding and intermittently throughout the flight duration, and they should wear face masks during the journey.
Besides, on arrival at the airport in Abuja, all passengers would be required to fill in a self-reporting/health assessment form; which
would be submitted along with their passports to the Nigeria immigration Service (NIS).
The returnees are also expected to adhere strictly to all instructions of Port Health Services (PHS) officials and observe other entry screening protocols.
The statement said on arrival in Abuja, all the returnees would be transported by the federal government from the airport to designated quarantine centres where they would be placed under observation for 14 days to ascertain their COVID-19 status.