The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has threatened to ban flights from the UAE and the Netherlands as a reciprocal action.
The taskforce said the Ministry of Aviation and its relevant agencies have been mandated to take the necessary reciprocal measures as may be permissible under the laws and other international obligations expected to be discharged against Emirates airlines operating from the UAE and other airlines from the Netherlands.
Mustapha said: “For over a month, Nigeria has been engaged with the authorities of the UAE and The Netherlands over pre-departure testing requirements passengers should meet before travelling.
According to him, the PTF has mandated the Ministry of Aviation and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, to take necessary reciprocal measures as may be permissible under the laws and other international obligations which we are expected to discharge.
The Nigeria government in February had earlier ban Emirates temporarily because the airline violated guidelines issued by the COVID-19 PTF. But the ban was suspended following agreement reached between both countries to put infrastructures in place for the rapid antigen test in Nigeria.
As a show of good faith, the Nigerian government through the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), in line with the demands of the UAE outlined guidelines for the requisition of space by medical laboratories and airlines in the country for the establishment of a Rapid Antigen COVID-19 test centres at the airport.
This has prompted the Middle East carrier, Emirates Airlines to shift its resumption date from March 10th to March 20th.
Since early February Emirates had suspended flights to Nigeria over disagreement on the RDT.
UAE insist that any Nigerian flying to Dubai must fly direct from Lagos or Abuja and should do a Rapid Antigen Test at the airport 4 hours before flight even after procuring a negative PCR test certificate.
This was rejected by Nigerians leading to the suspension of flights. Air Peace the Only Nigerian Airline flying to UAE Airport of Sharjah had to also suspend Flights.
FAAN said in a statement seen by Atqnews “In recognition of the many requests for space to set up collection centers for COVID-19 and further related processes, the management in conformity with PTF/NCDC guidelines and directives issued the procedures.
The Authority says the following items are required for submission and to be attached for application by interested companies:
1. Evidence of accreditation by – Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN)
2. Evidence of NCDC accreditation
3. Evidence of registration with the State government as a recognised COVID-19 testing centre.
4. Evidence of memorandum of understanding (MOU) agreement between the private lab and State government.
5. Letter from the State Commissioner of Health to the Presidential Task Force (PTF) and evidence of inclusion on the Nigeria International Travel Portal.
6. Evidence of compliance to state requirements by state indicative of laboratory details in the portal, such as location(address), CEO, bank details etc.
7. Evidence of Presidential Task Force directive to private laboratory to informing them of inclusion on portal and requesting for key performance indictors/data on a weekly basis.
8. Allocation of space, by the relevant office, must be at a reasonable distance from the airport terminals. It is to be a collection centre with your main processing laboratory situated away from the airport. It may not be too far from the airport vicinity.
9. Also note there is no approval for Arrival terminal or departure terminal testing at the airports. Collection of specimen for PCR and also Rapid test is to be done within your cubicle. Candidate for Rapid test must already have a genuine negative PCR result.
10. The PCR test is to be done within 96 hours or as approved by the Federal Government. Rapid test to be within 4-6 hours of departure.
The agency stated that all claims are to be verified and authenticated by FAAN’s medical department before processing and operation, adding that any lab found wanting shall be sanctioned accordingly.
Meanwhile, Emirates Airlines has said passengers’ services from Nigeria to Dubai remains temporarily suspended until 20, March 2021.
The airline in a statement said customers from both Abuja and Lagos will not be accepted for travel prior to or including the date given.
It stated that passengers who have been to or connected through Nigeria in the last 14days are not allowed entry into the UAE (whether terminating in or connecting through Dubai).
The carrier said Emirates flights from Dubai to Lagos and Abuja will continue to operate as per the normal schedule. Emirates flies in passengers to Nigeria and returns back to Dubai without passengers.