The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has announced new travel rules for passengers coming into Nigeria from South Africa and the UK where a new variant of the virus has been discovered.
The National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu made the announcement on Thursday in Abuja, during a media briefing.
Aliyu said effective from Monday, all passengers coming into the country from the UK and South Africa on direct flights must use the Nigerian International Travel Portal to register.
They are to also fill in the health questionnaire and must upload a negative COVID-19, polymerase chain reaction, (PCR) result with a validity of not more than five days.
He added that travelers must pay for a COVID-19 PCR test at day seven of arrival in the country without which they would not be allowed to board the flights.
The coordinator also said a special register would be opened at the airports for passengers from these two countries specifically to track and ensure they presented themselves for the COVID-19 test on day seven.
He said there would be sanctions on passengers that presented fake PRC results.
“We’ll continue to be concerned about the emergence of the new variant coronavirus in the UK and additional mutate that was described coming from South Africa.
“The system for travels in terms of ensuring the safety of our citizens and preventing the importation of cases in the country is one of the most strict.
“We are one of the few countries that do double testing, that have a travel portal where you can go in and enter your details including your health questionnaire and pay for a test.
“Specifically, for the UK and South Africa, the PTF has met and we have decided that additional measures will be required to ensure safety of our citizens.
“So effective from 00 hours on Monday, Dec. 28, all passengers coming into the country from the UK and South Africa on direct flights, must use the Nigerian International Travel Portal to register.
“Fill in the health questionnaire and must upload a negative COVID-19 PCR result with a validity of not more than five days and must pay for a COVID PCR test at day seven of arrival in country.
“When you are leaving the UK or South Africa, you need two documents that you have to present to the airlines.
“The first document is a negative COVID-19 PCR result, second is a permit to travel document, which we use to refer to as the QR code.
“The only way you can get the permit to travel on the travel portal is by filling in your health questionnaire electronically, uploading your PCR result and paying for the day seven test.
“If you do not present a permit travel or you cannot present a travel permit, the airlines are being directed not to board.
“So if you are coming into Nigeria from the UK and South Africa, it is in your best interest to familiarise yourself with the Nigerian International Travel Portal and make sure that you put in your health details.
“Upload your PCR result that has to be negative and you pay for a day seven test upon arrival in Nigeria.
“The second enforcement that we will have has to do with the seven day self-isolation upon arrival in the country. We had a lot of debates on if we should institute mandatory quarantine when the people arrive.
“We have decided that when you arrive, we will open a special register for all passengers arriving from these two countries.
“We will have an enhanced surveillance where these passengers will be contacted after they have arrived home, we will be checking on them to see if they are having any symptoms.
“But more importantly, we expect these passengers by day seven to unfailing go for their COVID-19 PCR test which they must have before boarding the aircraft.
“We have already mentioned right from September, when we opened up International airspace that there will be penalties for not abiding by the protocols.
“President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, approved that from now on particularly for those coming from the UK and South Africa, we will pay special attention to these flights.
“If you do not do your day seven tests by day 10, you will automatically go into the suspension list. Your travel document – 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 larger group of passengers.
“That has always been our challenge, we are now able to enforce this specially for passengers from the UK and South Africa until further notice.
“In addition to that, over this weekend, we are going to publish the list of 100 Nigerian passport numbers that we have for six months.
“We have already contacted these passengers and we have confirmed that they have not done a COVID -19 PCR test. We will not be publishing names, but the passport numbers.
“From now on, people that are traveling must abide by our protocols, there will be repercussions if you don’t. There will be penalties.
“In addition to this, we will also be instituting the same penalties for people presenting fake COVID-19 PCR results at our airports on exiting or on arrival.
“For those that are exiting, we have a code that we have developed and we are asking the airlines to start using which will entail entering the code for every result into our website that will tell you whether the result is fake or not.
“So, please do not buy or use fake result, you are putting others at risks if you do so,” he said.