NIGERIA’S federal government has threatened to suspend flight operations from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Netherlands as part of plans to curtail the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Although Nigeria has so far been spared the worst of the global pandemic, the second phase of the pandemic is considered particularly severe as it comes with the virus mutating into several dangerous strains. As a result, last week, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Covid-19 Health Protection Regulations 2021 into law last week.
Signed into law on January 27, the new federal guidelines state that a physical distance of at least two metres shall be maintained at all times between persons at all gatherings. They also insist that no gathering of more than 50 persons shall hold in an enclosed space, except for religious purposes, in which case the gathering shall not exceed 50% capacity of the space.
As part of this plan, Captain Musa Nuhu, the director-general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), said that flights may be banned from several countries. Both the UAE and the Netherlands recently requested that passengers from Nigeria must carry out a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test four hours before departing the country.
Captain Nuhu added: “For us, passengers do the test 72 hours before departure and then the PCR test and the presidential task force recognises the rights of all countries to put in measures to protect their citizens just like Nigeria has done. If they insist on having these additional tests being done, then PTF has decided that their operations will be suspended into Nigeria.”
He noted that the UAE and Netherlands, other countries or airlines would not determine for Nigeria, who to approve or how these test would be done. Authorities in Dubai has published fresh guidelines barring Nigerians from travelling through their airports with effect from February 1.