As against calls for a total ban on flights from the United Kingdom and South Africa, following detection of a new strain of the Covid-19 in those countries, the Federal Government, Thursday, opted to place more stringent requirements on travelers from the two affected nations.
The fresh requirements, according to the Presidential Task force on Covid-19 (PTF), during its Thursday briefing in Abuja, would now require inbound UK and South African travellers to submit themselves to these fresh regulations in addition to others already in place since the country resumed international flight operations in September.
National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, who reeled out the requirements at the PTF briefing said violation would attract heavy penalties for the travelers.
“There are new traveling requirements for people traveling from the UK and South Africa effective from 0001 hours on Monday, December 28, 2020.
“It is the responsibility of those passengers to make sure they familiarise themselves with these new rules, and airlines will be informed accordingly.
“We will open a special register at the airport for all passengers arriving from these two countries.
“We will have an enhanced surveillance so that these passengers will be contacted after they have arrived home.
“We will be checking on them to see if they are having symptoms.
“But even more importantly by Day 7, we expect these passengers just like any other passengers coming from outside the country to unfailingly go for COVID PCR test which you must have paid for before boarding the aircraft.”
Before now, international passengers were generally required to visit the Nigerian international travel portal to upload their negative COVID PCR result, generate a Permit to Travel document, also referred to as the QR Code, and also pay for the second PCR COVID test that would be conducted on them by their seventh day of arrival in the country.
According to Aliyu, penalties including passport or visa suspension for at least six months would be imposed on violators, adding further that the passport numbers of the first 100 violators of international travel protocols would be published by the weekend.
“If you do not do your Day 7 test by Day 10, you will automatically go on to the suspension list and your travel documents, your passport will be suspended for a minimum period of six months.
“If you carry a foreign passport with a visa, we will revoke your visa. And because it is easier to track a smaller group of persons than a large number of passengers which has always been the challenge that we have, we are now able to enforce this specifically for passengers coming from these routes until further notice,” Aliyu said.
Continuing, Aliyu said: “In addition to this, over this weekend we will publish the first list of 100 Nigerian passport numbers that will be suspended for six months.
“We have already contacted the passengers and we have confirmed that they have not had their COVID PCR test.
“We will not be publishing names but we will publish the passport numbers and we asking from now on, people that are traveling should make sure they abide by our protocols because there will be repercussions if you don’t in terms of penalties.”
Nigeria before had called on the Federal Government to toe the path of most European nations by restricting flights from United Kingdom following the new strain of the virus, which the British admitted had gotten out of control.