Ahead of the resumption of international flights in the country, the Federal Government has vowed to sanction air passengers who fail to comply with the guidelines put in place to flatten the COVID-19 curve.
Speaking during a briefing in Abuja on Monday, the Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu said the government is committed to the safety and security of Nigerians.
Aliyu said the PTF is working with relevant stakeholders in the aviation sector to ensure that Nigeria does not witness a fresh spike of infections.
“It is very likely we will put in place measures to enforce this by suspending travel up to six months or deny foreign travels altogether.
“But beyond the sanctions, because as responsible citizens, we all want our country to continue to be COVID-19-free once we get on top of the pandemic, so, we expect the vast number of travellers to continue to comply with these simple, straightforward measures we are putting in place for the benefit of our country and for the health of our citizens,” he said.
He however warned that passengers entering the country must undergo the mandatory test to ascertain their COVID-19 status.
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According to him, any passenger who possesses the symptoms of the coronavirus disease will not be granted entry into the aircraft even after getting a medical report that indicates they are free from the virus.
“There will definitely be sanctions if they do not comply. Sanctions to the airlines if they allow passengers without a COVID-19 PCR result to board, they will be sanctioned on arrival in Nigeria, that is the airline.
“For passengers that decline to do the test, at Day 7, we will still allow them after Day 14 to have a test done after which their details will be forwarded to Port Health, Immigration, and part of the security services.”
Aliyu’s remarks come three days after the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) said the resumption of international flights has now been shifted to September 5.
NCAA The earlier date had been August 29.
The Director-General of the NCAA, Musa Shuaibu Nuhu, revealed the news during a Presidential Task Force COVID-19 briefing in Abuja.
He said while airlines and airports were ready to operate, other non-aviation logistics prompted the one-week extension.
“We have other non-aviation logistics we are still working on, mostly the COVID-19 protocol tests and online platform,” he said. “We need to get this ready.”
Mr Nuhu described September 5 as a “sacrosanct date”, noting that “the initial announcement was anytime from the 29th.”