•Imposes heavy fine on defaulting airlines
•Issues new guidelines on coronavirus prevention
Concerned by the new wave of Covid-19 in some parts of the world, the federal government has banned passengers, who have visited India, Brazil and Turkey in the last 14 days from entering the country as part of precautionary measures to minimise the risk of a surge in the cases of the disease introduced to Nigeria from other countries.
This new travel advisory will, however, come into effect from Tuesday, May 4, 2021 and subject to review after an initial period of 4 weeks, the federal government added.
But, in order to ensure no airline treats the new guidelines with levity, the federal government, has also imposed a fine of $3,500 per passenger on any airline that ignores these instructions.
Besides, as part of the new regime of Covid-19 prevention measures, the federal government has reduced the validity period of pre-boarding COVID-19 PCR test for all Nigeria-bound passengers from 96hrs to 72 hours, meaning PCR test results older than 72hours before departure shall not be accepted.
While advising Nigerians to suspend non-essential travels to any country for now, the federal government in a statement issued early this morning by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman, Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, Boss Mustapha, noted that, “The Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 has over the last few weeks been monitoring with concern, the increasing trend of COVID-19 cases in several countries, with additional focus on countries with high incidence, fatality rate and widespread prevalence of variants of concern.”
In the press statement titled: “Travel Advisory For Passengers Arriving Nigeria From Brazil, India and Turkey”, Mustapha stated that, “The Government of Nigeria deeply empathises with the citizens and governments of these countries, and assures them of our commitment, unflinching support and solidarity at this time of need.
“In our effort to continue to safeguard the health of the Nigerian population, as well as to minimize the risk of a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria, the Presidential Steering Committee carried out a risk assessment of countries with high incidence of cases. The risk assessment took into consideration the epidemiology of cases, prevalence of variants of concern and average passenger volume between Nigeria and each country amongst other indicators.
“Of the countries assessed, this interim travel advisory applies to three (3) countries in the first instance. These precautionary measures are a necessary step to minimize the risk of a surge in COVID-19 cases introduced to Nigeria from other countries, while national response activities continue.
Insisting Nigerians are strongly advised to avoid any non-essential international travels to any country at this period and specifically to countries that are showing rising number of cases and deaths, Mustapha however listed the new travel guides, with specific reference to India, Brazil and Turkey.
According to him, “Any person who has visited Brazil, India or Turkey within fourteen (14) days preceding travel to Nigeria, shall be denied entry into Nigeria. This regulation, however, does not apply to passengers who transited through these countries.
“The following measures shall apply to airlines and passengers who fail to comply with I and II(a) above: Airlines shall mandatorily pay a penalty of $3,500 (Three Thousand Five Hundred dollars) for each defaulting passenger. Non-Nigerians will be denied entry and returned to the country of embarkation at cost to the Airline.
“Nigerians and those with permanent resident permit shall undergo seven (7) days of mandatory quarantine in a Government approved facility at the point-of-entry city and at cost to the passenger. The following condition shall apply to such passengers: Within 24 hours of arrival shall take a COVID-19 PCR test.
“If positive, the passenger shall be admitted within a government-approved treatment centre, in line with National treatment protocols. If Negative, the Passenger shall continue to remain in quarantine and made to undergo a repeat PCR test on day 7 of their quarantine.
“Passenger(s) arriving in Nigeria from other destinations must observe a 7-day self-isolation at their final destination; Carry out a COVID-19 PCR test on day 7 at selected laboratory; Shall be monitored for compliance to isolation protocol by appropriate authorities.”
On false declaration, the federal government stated that, “Passenger(s) who provided false or misleading contact information will be liable to prosecution. Person(s) who willfully disregard or refuse to comply with directions of Port-Health staff, security agencies or evade quarantine shall be prosecuted in accordance with the law.
“State Governments are required to ensure that all returning travelers from ALL countries are monitored to ensure adherence to the mandatory seven-day self-isolation period and the repeat COVID-19 PCR test on the seventh day after arrival.”
Government has therefore urged members of the public to adhere to all COVID-19 preventive measures in place including adherence to the national travel protocol, proper use of face mask, regular handwashing and physical distancing.