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Foreign airlines blame extra testing for false COVID-19 results

Foreign airlines blame extra testing for false COVID-19 results

Nigeria will receive 80 million doses of vaccines, Fayemi says
Foreign airlines yesterday blamed the rampant cases of false COVID-19 test results in Nigeria on the extra testing measures currently imposed by some carriers.

Although the airlines apologized to customers for the inconvenience and the extra cost, they said the measure was their margin to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and prevent withdrawal from the Nigerian route.

However, the federal government is considering sanctions on Emirates and KLM airlines which have currently made the pre-boarding antigen test mandatory for Nigerians.

This was after the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) gave approval for antigen tests to be done at Lagos and Abuja airports.

Travelers in Nigeria have expressed their displeasure at the additional safety protocol, describing it as a fraud on “unprotected” Nigerian consumers.

The Guardian reported yesterday that foreign carriers have started enforcing new safety protocols, much to the discomfort of Nigerian travellers. The national carriers of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Netherlands, Emirates and KLM, have started conducting mandatory antigen tests on Nigerian passengers in addition to the Federal Government approved Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test and the global standard.

The test costs an additional N25, 800 per traveler at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja and N36, 800 at Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.

The country manager of one of the airlines said the antigen test was inevitable if they were to support bare-bones operations during the pandemic, saying PCR tests “seem to have been compromised with a lot of suspicious results.”

Chairman of the Airline Passengers Joint Committee (APJC), Bankole Bernard, said Emirates and the other airlines were not to blame for neglecting Nigerian travelers but the Federal Government which refused to shoulder its responsibilities.

Bernard said he was aware of false claims of test results, but insisted it was the government’s sole responsibility to rid the system of saboteurs.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) has urged the Federal Government to explore the potential of local vaccine production following technology transfer.

He disclosed that about 80 million doses of vaccines will soon be available in the country to immunize 40% of the country’s population this year.

Fayemi said it was part of measures put in place to contain the virus this year, adding that another batch of 60 million doses would arrive in 2022.

Governor Fayemi stated this while presenting a paper on The Role of State Governments in Nigeria in Recovery: Responses to the Challenges of COVID-19 at the Chatham House Africa Program in the United Kingdom (UK).

He reviewed the increased investment in health security and public health emergencies by the state governments with recommendation on the need to establish their own disease control centers in the country.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is perhaps our biggest lesson in this regard, as it has affected all spheres of the economy. Nigeria now has a National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS) which includes a multi-sectoral approach to combat pandemics of this nature,” he added.