FGN releases provisional protocol for travellers ahead of international flights resumption

The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) has released the provisional protocol (the Protocol), in preparation for the resumption of international flights to Nigeria, which is scheduled to commence from 5 September 2020.

The highlights of the Protocol are:

  1. Pre-departure protocol from the country of departure to Nigeria

Airlines with inbound flights to Nigeria must ensure that all intending travellers:

  • Present evidence of a negative  Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test result which was carried out in their country of departure within seven (7) days or preferably 72 hours before boarding the aircraft. It is also obligatory for airline operatives to subject intending passenger to thermal testing and  COVID-19 symptom questioning. 
  • Register and pay via a designated-online platform for a repeat of PCR test which will be conducted in Nigeria after observing a mandatory 7-day self-quarantine obligation.

In addition, travellers will complete a health declaration/self-reporting form on the designated platform and submit or print out for presentation upon arrival in Nigeria. The link to the registration platform will be made available subsequently.

Any airline that flouts this pre-boarding protocol will be fined USD3,500 per passenger, while the travellers will be refused entry and returned to the country of embarkation. However, returning Nigerians will be permitted entry subject to a 14-day mandatory quarantine at a facility approved by the government and at a cost to the travellers.

  1. On arrival in Nigeria

All travellers arriving in Nigeria will be required to:

  • Present their international passports for clearance through the Nigerian Immigration System’s Migrants Identification Data Analysis System (MIDAS), from where the biodata page and passengers’ picture will be forwarded to all COVID-19 PCR Sample Collection Centres to enable proper identification before sample collection. The Nigerian Immigration Service will not retain the international Passports of travellers.
  • Go through a routine health screening at the airport, present evidence (electronic or print-out) of pre-boarding PCR test results and payment/appointment for a repeat PCR test in-country.
  • Proceed on a 7-day self-isolation/quarantine and must present themselves at the sample collection centre on the 7th day of arrival for the second PCR test. Travellers who fail to show up for the PCR test after 14 days would be sanctioned accordingly.

The PCR test results will be ready within 24-48 hours. Passengers admitted into the country will be monitored by the public health officers while under self-isolation. People who tested positive to COVID-19 will be managed based on the National guidelines for COVID-19 treatment.

  1. Exit from self-isolation

Only individuals who have tested negative for COVID-19 after the 7-day self-isolation/quarantine will be allowed to exit self-isolation on the 8th day.

The Protocol is a step in the right direction as it covers most of the fundamental areas of concern for stakeholders. However, the Protocol fails to address the principle of reciprocity with other countries as well as operational concerns like the link for registration for the PCR tests. We expect the authorities will release further directives/information in this regard.

Please see link to the full protocol.

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