Nigeria has taken a cautious step in curtailing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic by restricting passengers from India, Turkey, and Brazil into Nigeria. The restriction takes effect from May 4, 2021. However, the ban does not affect those who transit through the country as they would not be denied entry into Nigeria. To underscore its seriousness, Nigeria will fine any airline that fails to comply with a penalty of $3,500 per defaulting passenger.
These are parts of the decisions by the Presidential Steering Committee on Covid-19 chaired by Mr. Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Nigerian Government. Mustapha in a press release lists other decisions taken after a risk assessment embarked on by the committee. According to him, reduction of the validity period of pre-boarding COVID-19 PCR test for all Nigeria-bound passengers is now from 96hrs to 72 hours, stressing that henceforth PCR test results older than 72 hours before departure shall not be accepted.
Non-Nigerians, according to the government, will be denied entry and returned to the country of embarkation at the cost to the airline. According to the statement, Nigerians and those with a permanent residence permit shall undergo seven days of mandatory quarantine in a government-approved facility at the point-of-entry city and at the cost to the passenger. Other conditions are that 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 center, in line with National treatment protocols. If the test is negative, the passenger shall remain in quarantine and be made to undergo a repeat PCR test on day seven of their quarantine, while passenger(s) arriving in Nigeria from other destinations must observe a seven-day self-isolation at their final destination. They are also to carry out a COVID-19 PCR test on day seven at selected laboratories and shall be monitored for compliance to isolation protocol by appropriate authorities.
Mustapha warned that passengers who provide false or misleading contact information will be liable to prosecution, stressing that a person who willfully disregards or refuses to comply with directions of Port-Health staff, security agencies, or evades 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.
“We urge 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 hand washing and physical distancing”. Mustapha explained that the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 had 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.
He said: “The Government of Nigeria deeply empathizes with the citizens and governments of these countries, and assures them of our commitment, unflinching support, and solidarity at this time of need”.