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FG to strengthen pre-boarding testing against COVID-19 transmission

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Aviation industry worst hit, says minister

The Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19 has said validation process for pre-boarding PCR tests, yesterday, showed that 64 per cent of the recent infections came from evacuees.

Consequently, the Federal Government is to strengthen the exercise to minimise importation of the disease.

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Also, airlines are to ensure that only passengers without symptoms of the virus were boarded, as a $3,500 fine awaits an erring carrier.

Chairman of the taskforce and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, during the body’s briefing in Abuja, pointed out that ​prior to the reopening of the airspace, measures were in place at the points of entry to reduce transmission.

“The PTF has already informed you about plans to reopen the international airspace for flights in a manner that will promote safety, security and economic recovery. We have been working with other sectors to develop appropriate protocols. Over the weekend, 252 additional Nigerians were evacuated from the United Arab Emirates, bringing the total number of Nigerians that have returned home to 4,984. We shall intensify the validation process for the PCR tests to minimise risks,” he stated.

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In his remarks, PTF Coordinator, Dr. Sani Aliyu, said government was concerned about the quality of some of the results as well as the discrepancies when passengers were tested in-country.

He hinted that the protocol would be reviewed after four weeks, adding: “Once we have the list of accredited laboratories working with different embassies, Nigeria will insist that passengers use these laboratories for the test.”

Besides, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has said the aviation industry is worst hit by the disease.

He spoke while fielding questions from members of the Joint Senate Committee on Finance and Planning yesterday in Abuja.

The minister said the industry would still suffer from the adverse effect until the fourth quarter of 2021, and perhaps, the first quarter of 2022.

“We will continue to see sharp decline in passengers, and that is directly proportional to the revenue that we collect, because people’s confidence has to be raised,” Sirika submitted.

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