Nigeria: Government’s continued enforcement of PCR tests worries Nigerian air travelers as nations ease Covid-19 restrictions

The continued enforcement of PCR testing for Nigerian air travelers by the Federal Government has become a source of concern for air travelers from Nigeria.

The concern comes at a time when many countries, including the US, UK and Saudi Arabia, have eased COVID-19 restrictions, including dropping PCR testing for the traveling public. In Nigeria, the government is still fully enforcing the strict coronavirus protocol with a compulsory PCR test which costs around N50,000 in Lagos.

Many international travelers and foreign airline officials in Nigeria have shouted at the government, saying the continued enforcement of strict COVID-19 testing is a scam, as there is a global drop in coronavirus cases and the Nigeria records relatively very low cases at worst. times.

Moreover, the price of the PCR test has not decreased but remains at around N45,000 to N60,000, according to the lab recommended by Port Health officials who are responsible for screening passengers traveling to or arriving in Nigeria.

The country manager of one of the major international airlines told THISDAY on Wednesday that “the government should remove this PCR test so that Nigerians can travel with peace of mind. They are just collecting money for nothing. Allowing people to travel and let air travel go back to normal. We’re not people-oriented in this country.”

THISDAY’s investigation found that Port Health officials and others involved in interfacing with passengers on the Coronavirus protocol do not care whether passengers are vaccinated or not and there is verifiable documentation of Nigerians traveling out of the country who are fully vaccinated besides taking the booster but these officials don’t even look at the vaccination card but they insist that air travelers must pay for the PCR test if they arrive in the country or get a PCR test when leaving the country.

THISDAY accessed the arrivals section of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport terminal in Lagos and noticed that the main concern of the officials who confront arriving passengers was that they pay for the PCR test, and once paid, they do not line the passengers. .

THISDAY monitored a passenger who arrived in the country two weeks ago and he said that after payment at the airport, no one called him; no one asked for anything; whether he took the test or not.

“They know nothing is happening. There is no more COVID-19 in the country and that is why they are not bordering,” he said.

But a passenger traveling to the UK told THISDAY she did not have a PCR test as she was fully vaccinated and the UK does not require a PCR test for fully vaccinated passengers.

Turkey has also ordered that anyone traveling to Turkey who is fully vaccinated does not need a PCR test, but anyone returning to Nigeria is required to pay for the PCR test.

For about a month, Nigeria has stopped giving updates on COVID-19 cases, indicating that the existing cases are negligible.

As well as scrapping the PRC test, the UK has announced it will remove remaining international COVID-19 travel restrictions for all passengers from 4am on Friday March 18.

According to a statement from the UK, “As one of the first major economies to remove all of its remaining COVID-19 travel restrictions, this is a historic moment for passengers and the travel and travel industry. From 4am on Friday March 18, all COVID -19 travel restrictions will be lifted, including the Passenger Locator Form (PLF) for arrivals in the UK, as well as all tests for unvaccinated passengers, so this change removes the need for unvaccinated passengers to take a – a departure test and an arrival test on day 2.”

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has also removed most COVID-19 restrictions and ended social distancing at the two holy mosques and all mosques in the Kingdom, but continued to mandate the wearing of face masks.

Saudi Arabia said it no longer requires travelers to undergo a mandatory COVID-19 quarantine upon arrival in the Kingdom and passengers will also no longer need to provide a PCR test to their arrival.

In Europe, France lifted the COVID-19 passport requirement for access to most places and events from March 14. Greece is abolishing passenger locator forms from March 15. Romania lifted all travel restrictions imposed due to COVID-19, from March 9, Ireland lifted all COVID-19 entry restrictions from March 6, and Germany allowed all travelers, regardless of their country of origin, as the high-risk list is removed from March 3.

In the United States, no PCR test for fully vaccinated and boosted travelers.

Industry watchers are expressing surprise that Nigeria, which has relatively fewer COVID-19 cases, is still enforcing mandatory PCR testing.

Exasperated by this situation, a well-known Nigerian journalist, David Hundeyin, said on Twitter: “I have never heard of a country on this planet where its own citizens are not allowed to board a flight back home. less pay 100 bucks and register on bullshit I don’t think even Eritrea or North Korea charge a fee for their returning citizens Only Nigeria.

Most countries have eased COVID-19 restrictions, including those that have suffered the most from the virus.

The United States has recorded 967,000 deaths, France 137,000, the United Kingdom 163,000, Germany 124,000 and Turkey 96,000 deaths, but Nigeria which still applies the COVID-19 restriction has recorded 3,142 deaths .

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