FG declares India, Brazil, Turkey high risk countries on COVID-19

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The Federal Government has approved a travel advisory to contain the surge of coronavirus and minimise the importation of mutant strains from other countries.

Besides, government wants Nigerians to avoid non-essential international travels but specifically to countries that are showing rising number of cases and deaths from coronavirus.

The advisory issued by the Presidential Steering Committee, PSC, on COVID-19 which becomes effective from Tuesday, May 4, 2021, shuts out travelers from India, Brazil and Turkey unless they have stayed more than two weeks in those countries before arriving Nigeria.

Travelers transiting through these three countries are not affected but the validity period of pre-boarding COVID-19 PCR test for all Nigeria-bound passengers is now reduced from 96 hours to 72 hours. “Henceforth PCR test results older than 72 hours before departure shall not be accepted,” said the advisory which is subject to review after a month.

“To ensure compliance with the new regulations, airlines shall pay a penalty of $3,500 for each defaulting passenger while non-Nigerians will be denied entry and returned to the country of embarkation at cost to the airline.

“Nigerians and those with permanent resident permit shall undergo seven days of mandatory quarantine in a Government-approved facility at the point-of-entry city and at cost to the passenger,” said the advisory signed by the Chairman of PSC, Boss Mustapha.

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The new guidelines also require passengers arriving Nigeria to observe a seven-day self-isolation at their final destination, carry out a COVID-19 PCR test on day seven at selected laboratory and subject themselves to isolation protocol by appropriate authorities.

The PSC warned that passengers who make false declarations or provide misleading contact information will be liable to prosecution. “Those who willfully disregard or refuse to comply with directions of Port-Health staff, security agencies or evade quarantine shall be prosecuted in accordance with the law,” said the advisory.

“State Governments are required to ensure that all returning travelers from all countries are monitored to ensure adherence to the mandatory seven-day self-isolation period and the repeat COVID-19 PCR test on the seventh day after arrival,” said the PSC even as it urged Nigerians to adhere to all COVID-19 preventive measures, the national travel protocol, proper use of face mask, regular handwashing and physical distancing.

Mustapha said government has taken the precautionary measures “as a necessary step to minimize the risk of a surge in COVID-19 cases introduced to Nigeria from other countries, while national response activities continue.”

His words: “The Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 has over the last few weeks been monitoring with concern, the increasing trend of COVID-19 cases in several countries, with additional focus on countries with high incidence, fatality rate and widespread prevalence of variants of concern.

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“The Government of Nigeria deeply empathizes with the citizens and governments of these countries, and assures them of our commitment, unflinching support and solidarity at this time of need.

“In our effort to continue to safeguard the health of the Nigerian population, as well as   minimize the risk of a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria, the Presidential Steering Committee carried out a risk assessment of countries with high incidence of cases. The risk assessment took into consideration the epidemiology of cases, prevalence of variants of concern and average passenger volume between Nigeria and each country amongst other indicators.

“This interim travel advisory applies to three countries in the first instance. These precautionary measures are a necessary step to minimize the risk of a surge in COVID-19 cases introduced to Nigeria from other countries, while national response activities continue.”