Over 27, 000 passengers arrived Nigeria despite COVID-19 strict procedures — Presidential Task Force
Despite strict procedures of deadly COVID-19 pandemic, over 27, 000 passengers have arrived Nigeria from abroad when Lagos and Abuja Airports were opened, National Coordinator, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, announced this, on Sunday in Abuja.
Dr Aliyu, in a statement authorized by Head, Media and Public Relations Unit of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abdur-Rahman Balogun, and made to newsmen, said 18,000 out of 27, 000 passengers came in through Muritala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos while the remaining 9, 000 came in through Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja, respectively.
The statement quoted Dr Aliyu of saying this during a townhall webinar meeting organised by NIDCOM, on Saturday, and coordinated by its Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Honourable Abike Dabiri-Erewa for Nigerians coming into the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The coordinator said the Task Force came up with what people considered as stringent procedures because it was important to limit the importation of Covid-19 to Nigeria, as well as prevent transmission during the flight and reduce the quarantine period.
He enlightened Nigerians in Diaspora who participated at the Webinar that Public Laboratories are not allowed to conduct free testing as the Federal government could not afford it and it is not sustainable, saying it is not something that government can afford. We will run out of test kits.
Dr Aliyu explained that the Federal Government does not receive any money paid to private laboratories as it would have loved to subsidize, but it is not sustainable by the government.
According to him: “We appreciate the difficulties that people are going through. It will be sorted out. We commend NIDCOM for living up to expectations in coordinating Diaspora concerns on the protocols put in place.”
He further said that the advantage of testing before boarding is to stop people with COVID-19 from moving to Nigeria as the test is expected to be done 120 hours maximum before boarding.
Speaking on the high cost of having the test, Aliyu said the federal government is trying to push the cost of PCR down for private laboratories who will in turn work within the travel sector line.
The National Coordinator said that children below the age of 10 years do not need to do test and ” if they have been subjected to payment, then they will be refunded.”
On the testing process for international travellers staying outside Lagos or Abuja, Aliyu said that “If there is no private laboratory in your state of final destination, the laboratory you have chosen for your test during registration will make arrangements to have your sample taken at a designated laboratory.
“The PTF and NCDC are urgently working with all states to create a mechanism for private testing. We’ve already approached 6 or 7 states that have private labs in their states,” he stressed.
He urged all passengers travelling to Nigeria to update all required information on the Nigerian International travel portal before boarding. This will auto generate a QR code which is required on arrival.
He also said any passenger made to pay more than once must be refunded, adding that customer service teams have been stationed at the Airports.
Earlier, the Chairman/CEO of NIDCOM, Honourable Dabiri-Erewa said the commission had to organise the webinar townhall meeting owing to complaints and frustration encountered by some Nigerians in diaspora, to enlighten and disseminate useful information.
She appealed to all travellers to be patient with the PTF COVID-19 immigration policy, saying everything will be done to ease the difficulty being encountered by those coming into the country.
Responding, Mr. Obed Monago, Chairman NIDO Americas, Mr. Olawale Odutayo, Mr. Tony Issima and other speakers
commended Honourable Dabiri-Erewa for always being proactive in taking care of the Diasporan’ concerns all the time.
Apparently excited about the platform provided by NIDCOM to clarify all the knotty issues on travelling during the COVID-19 pandemic, participants described the webinar as useful, timely and informative.
“This is the first time Nigerians in Diaspora have influenced major policy decisions in the country.” They added.