Despite presenting negative COVID-19 results, 40 percent of passengers on a single int’l flight tested positive

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The presidential task force (PTF) on COVID-19 says some international flight passengers who presented negative COVID-19 results tested positive for the virus on arrival in Nigeria.

Sani Aliyu, national coordinator of the PTF, disclosed this on Tuesday while appearing before a joint senate committee on health and aviation.

Appearing alongside Osagie Ehanire, minister of health, Aliyu said there was an instance in which 40 percent of passengers on a single flight tested positive for COVID-19, despite presenting negative COVID-19 results prior to boarding.

Ibrahim Oloriegbe, chairman, senate committee on health, at the meeting, had expressed concern about the protocols for international flight operations in relation to COVID-19 test requirements.

“The issue is about the protocols that have been set up for testing of passengers, either intending to fly out of Nigeria or coming into Nigeria, and the challenges associated with it,” Oloriegbe said.

In his response, Aliyu said the protocols were necessary in order to limit the possibility of importing more COVID-19 positive cases into the country as a result of past experience.

“When we started with the evacuation flights and special flights, the arrangement then was that people coming into the country will need to have negative COVID-19 test PCR results, which have to be valid at the time — the seven days,” he said.

“There were situations from specific countries where we had up to 40 percent of the passengers on a single flight coming in with the negative COVID-19 PCR result and subsequently being tested and found to be positive.”

Aliyu, who explained that there the need to avoid such situations, said the PTF held meetings with ambassadors of the affected countries which had issued negative COVID-19 results to persons flying into Nigeria, who turned out to be positive, in order to determine what could have gone wrong.

He added that as part of efforts to address the challenges, the validity period has now been reduced to four days before such passengers are due for arrival in the country.

According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), as of September 15, 2020, more that 56,000 persons have tested positive for COVID-19, out of which over 44,000 have recovered.

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