•THISDAY Dome treats 120 COVID-19 patients
Olawale Ajimotokan, Onyebuchi Ezigbo, Kasim Sumaina in Abuja and Chinedu Eze in Lagos
The federal government yesterday fixed August 29 for the resumption of international flights, suspended in March in the wake of the introduction of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.
This is coming as one of the most comprehensive private sector-driven COVID-19 facility in the country, THISDAY Dome COVID-19 Treatment Centre, has treated over 120 patients.
The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has also indicated that it will probe the allegations that its officials were collecting bribes to test samples.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja at the media briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, however, said all evacuation flights, which were introduced in the country in the wake of the ban on international flights occasioned by the outbreak of the pandemic, would stop on August 25.
The minister said Nigeria’s international airports had reached advanced stages of preparedness for the resumption of international flights.
According to him, the civil aviation authority will soon announce the protocols and procedures for the resumption of international flights.
He added that physical distancing, wearing of face masks, the use of hand sanitisers and temperature checking will continue to be observed alongside the opening of the airports.
He noted that in the beginning, there will be four flights into Lagos and Abuja daily and it will be compulsory for every passenger to take a compulsory COVID-19 test close to their departure date, indicating where he is coming from and also fill a health questionnaire online, which will be submitted at the point of entry.
The minister said: ”There will also be a portal prior to your departure; you will pay through that platform for a test to be done here in Nigeria, a day after your arrival, meaning that just before you depart, you take a test and you are not sure you are negative. And if after that, you have no sign of COVID, then we will board you on the flight. Then eight days after your arrival, which we consider as the incubation period, and you show signs of COVID, you will take a test at that time after the eighth day.
”Then gradually, when we apply all these protocols and we explain later on in due course, there may be no need to keep your passport at the airport.”
He added that a national air transport facilitation committee that involves all the stakeholders is working hard on all the protocols, which will be released once approved by the PTF.
He stated that it is safe to fly as it has not been proven that anybody has contracted the virus while flying since domestic flights resumed last month.
Sirika said like it was done during the resumption of domestic flights, the international flights would commence with the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja and the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.
According to him, emphasis will be placed on the observation of all the safety and technical guidelines as prescribed by global and health authorities, which will be communicated in due course.
“I am pleased to announce the resumption of international flights from the 29th of August, 2020, beginning with Lagos and Abuja as we did with the domestic flight resumption. Protocols and procedures will be announced in due course. We thank you for your patience,” the minister said.
The minister had earlier yesterday announced the planned resumption of domestic flights through his Twitter handle @hadisirika.
The resumption of domestic flights is coming five months after the federal government had shut down airports for international flights in order to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
Some countries have since reopened their airports, while others are on the verge of doing so.
THISDAY Dome Treats120 Patients
One of the most comprehensive private sector-driven COVID-19 facilities in the country, THISDAY Dome Covid-19 Treatment Centre, has treated over 120 patients.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who confirmed this in his update on the fight against the virus at the PTF media briefing, said the centre is currently functioning smoothly.
Giving an account of his assessment visit to the facility, Ehanire said: “I visited the THISDAY Dome Treatment Centre where over 120 patients have received treatment. The centre is functioning smoothly and I have directed that it be upgraded to a comprehensive level three centre with functional intensive care unit and dialysis facilities.”
He added that the NCDC is also making efforts to ensure that all laboratories in the network have a turnaround time of below 24 hours.
He said the federal government was monitoring a new diagnostic technology, including saliva-based COVID-19 test that is under development.
Speaking on the drop in the number of positive cases, Ehanire said it was not enough reason for Nigerians to rejoice.
“As we expand and include small towns and rural areas in our testing scope, a more accurate picture of our COVID-19 status will emerge. There is a good reason to prepare for COVID-19 invasion of rural areas with testing, first aid, ambulance service and commensurate isolation and treatment centres,” he stated.
While speaking on the milestones recorded by the NCDC, a representative of its director-general, Mrs. Elsie Ilori, said the commission had activated a new laboratory in Zamfara State, bringing the total nationwide to 61.
She also said there was at least one laboratory in 33 states out of the 36 states and the FCT.
She denied the allegations that NCDC officials were collecting bribe to test samples and that some of the staff were operating a job racket.
She, however, added that the centre has ordered an investigation into the allegations.