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New Covid Variants: Nigeria Sets Rules for Travelers from the UK, South Africa

Following the new surge in coronavirus infections reportedly due to new variants seen in South Africa and the United Kingdom, Nigeria’s government is taking steps to monitor movement from both countries.

According to the Presidential Task Force [PTF] on Covid-19, passengers from the aforementioned countries will have to register with the Nigerian International Travel Portal.

The passengers are also to present a negative Covid-19 test result valid for five days or less and fill in a health questionnaire that determines if they are fit for entry into the country.

They are also required to pay for a PCR test on the seventh day of their arrival into the country. The PTF’s National Coordinator, Dr. Sani Aliyu, said that the directive is to take effect from Monday, December 28.

Also Read: Buhari Extends Tenure of Presidential Covid Team as Cases Surge

“If you are coming into Nigeria from the UK and South Africa, it is in your best interest to familiarise yourself with the Nigerian International Travel Portal and make sure that you put in your health details,” Dr. Aliyu said while briefing newsmen on Thursday.

He also noted that a special register will be created at international airports all over the country to specifically track passengers from South Africa and the UK so as to monitor their health status during the course of their stay in Nigeria.

These new rules have come up in reaction to the revelation of the new, more infectious coronavirus strains found in the two countries, which also lead their respective continents in the number of infections, leading to more scrutiny over the arrival of people from those hotspots.

Also Read: Vaccine Against New Coronavirus Strain Could be Ready in Six Weeks – BioNTech CEO

President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier emphasized the commitment to strict regulation of traveling and safety in the country, saying “If you do not do your day seven tests by day 10, you will automatically go into suspension list. Your travel document – passport will be suspended for a minimum period of six months. If you carry a foreign passport with a visa, we will revoke your visa.”

The government is however yet to make a decision on international flight restrictions.

“A lot of discussions is still going on around the calls for the restriction of international travels due to the discovery of new strains of the virus in certain countries,” said Boss Mustapha, the Chairperson of the Task Force. “The PTF, Aviation, and health authorities including the WHO are assessing the situation closely and would take a position as soon as a cogent scientific basis is established.”

Nigeria was reluctant to shut its airport activities during the first wave of the virus outbreak as well, a decision some said should have been taken earlier to limit the spread of the pandemic. Its first positive case was found in an Italian who arrived in the country from Italy through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

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