The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has said it may suspend flight operations from United Arab Emirates (UAE) and The Netherlands in the country.
Captain Musa Nuhu, Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), who disclosed this in Abuja during the briefing by members of the PTF on Monday.
According to Nuhu, the considered flight ban is due to the insistence of the two countries demanding that passengers from Nigeria do a rapid COVID-19 test four hours before departing Nigeria, in addition to the regular PCR test done 72 hours before depature.
He stated that if both countries insist on the conduct of the rapid tests, the Federal Government will have no option than to suspend flight operations pending the setting up of the necessary infrastructure and equipment needed to conduct the test.
He said: “Couple of countries, namely UAE and Netherlands have put in extra requirements for passengers who will be entering their country and some are specific to Nigeria.
“In addition to the requirements are a requirement for PCR test before passengers departs from Nigeria to their countries. They are adding an extra requirement of having a rapid test done four hours before departure or before you board.
“For us, passengers do the test 72 hours before departure and then the PCR test and the PTF recognizes the rights of all countries to put in measures to protect their citizens just like Nigeria has done.
“However, these countries and airlines cannot determine for Nigeria who to approve or how these test will be done. We are going to be having a discussion with these airlines and these countries.
“If they insist on having these additional tests being done, then PTF has decided that their operations will be suspended into Nigeria until the time the PTF puts in a structure and deals with the logistics on how this second test can be done successfully within four hours before departure to these two countries.”
Nuhu noted that the Nigerian authorities have stepped up efforts to conduct tests at the airports.
“This will enable the PTF to have a clear and transparent process on determining who will do these test because there is a requirement for accreditation by NCDC, National Laboratory Council, Lagos state government for Lagos airport and FCT for Abuja airport.
“The PTF has started the procurement process of who will be allowed to do the test at the airports and there is a shortlist of four or five companies. So, this process will be brought to conclusion in order to select the laboratories who will carry out the tests at both Lagos and Abuja airports,” Nuhu said.