The Federal Government has approved August 29 for the resumption of international flights suspended by the nation’s aviation authorities as a result of the outbreak of coronavirus. Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, announced this at yesterday’s briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, in Abuja. Sirika added that Nigeria’s international airports have reached advanced stages of preparedness for resumption of international flight operations.
The Federal Government had, on Monday, March 23, announced the closure of the air space against international flights as a measure for curtailing the spread of the scourge. Speaking on resumption of international flights, Sirika said that like it was done during the resumption of domestic flights across the country, the international flights would commence with the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
The minister stated that emphasis would be placed on the observation of all the safety and technical guidelines as prescribed by global and health authorities, which would be communicated in due course.
His words: “We hereby announce today that international flights will be resumed from the 29th of August, 2020. It will start just as we did with the domestic. It will start with Lagos and Abuja. The protocols, procedures and processes will be announced in due course.
“However, what we have become used to: physical distancing, wearing of mask, washing of hands, temperature testing etc. will continue. In the beginning, there will be four flights into Lagos and four flights into Abuja daily.”
According to the minister, passengers are to take COVID-19 test close to their departure date and fill online questionnaires to be delivered at their point of entry. They will have to pay for their COVID-19 test through a portal on arrival and take another test eight days after, before their passports are released to them. Sirika declared that since the resumption of local flights some weeks ago, there has not been any report of anyone getting infected on board.
The PTF National Coordinator, Dr. Sani Aliyu, in his comments, however, pointed out that the number of people reportedly infected has continued to drop on daily basis because people are no longer coming forward for testing.
He warned that the low figure should not be misinterpreted to mean that the scourge had been defeated. Chairman of PTF and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, announced that evacuation of Nigerians in Diaspora as a result of the scourge will end on August 25.
On possibility of reopening higher institutions and other schools soon, he said: “We appreciate the call by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) for the reopening of tertiary institutions. As a listening government, we wish to state that education is topmost on the priority list and the reopening of our institutions remain critical, within set safety parameters.”