New COVID-19 strain: FG announces fresh rules for UK, South African passengers

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The federal government has announced new travel rules for passengers coming in from South Africa and United Kingdom, where a new variant of COVID-19 has been discovered.

Sani Aliyu, national coordinator of the presidential task force on COVID-19, made the announcement at Thursday’s media briefing.

He said effective from Monday, all passengers coming into the country from the UK and South Africa must use the Nigerian international travel portal to register, fill in the health questionnaire and upload a negative COVID-19 result with a validity of not more than five days.

He said they must pay for a COVID PCR test at day seven of arrival in country without which they will not be allowed to board flights.

Aliyu also said a special register would be open at the airports for passengers from these two countries specifically to track and ensure they present for COVID test on day seven.

“We 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,” he said.

“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 would be required to ensure the safety of our citizens. 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 as to 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 your COVID PCR test which you must have before boarding the aircraft.

“Penalties, we have already mentioned right from September when we opened up International airspace that there will be penalties for not abiding by the protocols. Mr. President 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.”

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