Aunty Nike was in the dining room when she overheard her two roommates discussing. “Oi, Kathryn, go tell Nike that she can travel to Nigeria from September 5.” “Okay, then. Let me go fetch…” before Kathryn could finish her sentence, Nike dashed into the kitchen overjoyed. “Wow! This is great. So finally I’ll be out of your hair. Thanks for your hospitality all these months. Thank you! Thank you!!”
Like Nike, many Nigerians at home and abroad were absolutely delighted to hear that international flights have been scheduled (earlier August 29) to resume on September 5, 2020. They were now going to see their loved ones, friends, family and relatives after some seven months!
Talk about some feel-good news.
As much as everyone’s anticipating the kickoff, you should know that just like Nigeria airline operators and authorities did with the commencement of domestic air travel, setting protocols and guidelines here and there, travelling inbound Nigeria will require even stricter measures for both airlines and travellers respectively.
In this regard, here are a few questions you need to have answers to before hopping on a plane to Naija.
1. Do I have a Negative Covid-19 PCR Test Certificate?
That’s right! You’ll be required to present a ‘Negative Covid-19 PCR Test Certificate’ to airport officials on landing. Take note of the keyword; PCR, meaning Polymerise Chain Reaction because Nigeria isn’t going to be collecting any other form of test results. Not even serologic tests, rapid in-clinic antigen tests, lateral flow assays will be accepted.
So, get ya PCR certificates ready!
2. Is this from an Accredited Laboratory?
Here’s a catch, your PCR Test Certificate must be from an accredited laboratory in your country and this is due to the fact that some test results previously collected on evacuation passenger flights have either been falsified or simply put, fake!
To curb this trend of inconsistencies, embassies are going to have a list of accredited labs for Covid-19 testing and travellers who have business in Nigeria have to use one of them.
Finally – and this is for the airlines – airlines will be fined 3,500 dollars for carrying any passenger with a positive or without a negative Covid-19 PCR Test Certificate. That’s exactly 3,500 dollars per person!
3. Could my PCR Test be invalid?
Since current protocols are continuously reviewed, travellers are being advised to take the PCR Test as close as possible to their date of travel. Preferably, 48 to 72 hours before flight.
Not to worry if you can’t meet up with the 72-hour mark because the validity period of test results have now been reduced to seven days from fourteen days.
Ensure you have results ready before seven days.
4. Have I filled the Health Declaration Form?
Addressing the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, the National Coordinator, Doctor Sani Aliyu mentioned that the Health Declaration Form will be switched from a paper-based/hardcopy to an electronic/online format.
Also, incoming passengers need to fill this form before jumping on an airplane to Nigeria.
5. Will my Passport be retained?
Of course not.
Unlike before, your passport won’t be retained by Nigerian Immigration Service officials as long as you’ve got and pay attention here; an evidence of payment for a second Covid-19 PCR Test, a negative PCR Test Result and a completed Health Declaration Form.
For the fees, the national payment portal will be linked to the Lagos portal and will include a list of accredited laboratories.
If you can provide these documents at the desk then my friend, you can leave the airport premises with your passport in hand.
6. For how long will I have to Self-isolate?
Everyone knows how important self isolating after a long journey is, right?
So, travellers would be required to self-isolate in their homes for seven days (reduced from fourteen days).
7. Oh, is there a second Covid-19 test?
After a successful isolation period, you’ll need to have a repeat Covid-19 PCR Test which you already paid for. This was previously funded by Aliko Dangote (Africa’s richest man) and it covered the cost of Covid-19 tests for evacuation flight passengers.
I think it’s a pretty quick process and once you’re declared negative, you can wander up-and-down and wakaabout to do business or go see anyone you’ve been wanting to visit on day eight!
To understand how this test happens in Lagos, Nigeria and to have an idea of the fee, you can read about Amarachi’s experience getting the Covid-19 PCR Test.
You may or may not have to ask yourself these questions but just in case…
8. Is the weather going to be okay?
The sky is always pregnant around this time of the year in Nigeria and you could be anticipating some travel delays because of weather hazards. Not to worry, it’s usually nothing on the extreme.
9. Is my country blacklisted?
The ministry has announced that only two airports – Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja will be allowed to operate international flights for the time being.
But to try out some of the reviewed protocols, ninety three travellers arrived from Paris, France in Lagos aboard Titan Airlines on Thursday, August 27.
I think you should also know that when international flights resume in full gear, not all countries will be allowed to fly into Nigeria. This is because some countries particularly in the EU have restricted access for Nigerian air carriers under the pretence of Covid-19.
The government and air travel authorities are not having any of this and will be applying the principles of reciprocity based on the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA). So, in that sense, countries that allow us in would also be allowed into our country. Period.
But then, there’s a mirage of questions pertaining this move. Will international carriers not carrying passengers from such countries be banned? Are such countries aware that Nigerian authorities are unhappy with the restrictions? When will this end?
It’s imperative for you to have all the necessary documents that are required for you to travel again into Nigeria. And when you land, please take the self-isolation timeline seriously.
Remember, we can only curb the spread of Covid-19 if we work together.
Over To You!
Many other African countries and countries around the world have reopened their airspace to international flights but I’ll like to know…
What are the requirements for travellers coming into your country? Do you think the Nigeria protocols are easy to follow? And finally, if not, which of these do you find a tinny bit difficult?
Kindly share in the comments.
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