By Chinedu Eze
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in collaboration with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has outlined coronavirus safety protocols for passengers wishing to travel out or come into Nigeria when international flight operations resume on September 5, 2020.
The PTF insisted that potential travellers must be acquainted with the regulation before initiating their plan to travel so that they would not be stopped midstream after they have made financial and time commitments.
The new regulation, which was contained in a document dated August 21, 2020, and made available to THISDAY, states that all intending travellers to Nigeria must have tested negative for COVID-19 by PCR in the country of departure pre-boarding and PCR test must be within seven days before departure and preferably within 72 hours pre-boarding.
According to the document, for certain countries, COVID-19 PCR tests would only be acceptable from specified laboratories and tests done more than seven days before departure are not valid, and such person would not be allowed to board, but for the 72 hours minimum, this is advisory and will not preclude boarding.
“All intending passengers are required to register via a national payment portal online (details to be made available) and pay for a repeat (second) PCR test to be done upon arrival in Nigeria. This payment portal will provide passengers with the options of where and when to carry out the PCR test.
“Passengers will be given an appointment time and date to present themselves at the Sample Collection Centres located in their states of residence for a repeat COVID-19 PCR test on the seventh day after arrival. A list of accredited private laboratory providers and Sample Collection Centres across the country will be available on the payment platform and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) website.
“Passengers will also fill the online Health Declaration/Self Reporting form co-located on the same national payment platform and submit online or print out for presentation on arrival. They should ensure that the information/contact details provided on the form are correct, verifiable and that they can be reached on the phone number and address provided.
“Passengers must inform port health officials on arrival of any change in their health circumstances since completion of the Health Declaration/Self-Reporting form,” the document stated.
The document further stated that prior to boarding, passengers are requested to upload their COVID-19 PCR negative results onto the national payment portal and bring along an electronic or hardcopy of the result for presentation at the airport.
At the time of boarding, all travellers will undergo thermal screening for fever and questioned for symptoms of COVID-19. Passengers with COVID-19 related signs and symptoms will not be allowed to board the flight.
The PTF requested that airlines must only board passengers with test results showing that the tests were done within the stipulated seven-days before boarding and airlines that board passengers without a negative COVID-19 PCR tests or test results of more than seven days prior to boarding will be sanctioned.
It added: “Non-Nigerians may be refused entry and returned to the point of embarkation at cost to the airlines. Nigerians will be allowed entry but subjected to 14days of mandatory quarantine at a facility approved by the government and at cost to the passenger.
“Airlines will be fined $3, 500 per passenger for failure to comply with the pre-boarding requirements.”
For passengers/persons arriving in Nigeria, PTF stated that they would be required on arrival at the airport to go through the routine port health screening, and present electronic or print-out evidence of pre-boarding PCR test results and evidence of payment/appointment for a repeat PCR test in-country.
Passengers are required to present their international passports for clearance through the Nigerian Immigration System’s Migrants Identification Data Analysis System (MIDAS); the biodata page, including passengers’ picture, which will be forwarded to all COVID-19 PCR Sample Collection Centres to enable proper identification before sample collection.