Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government, yesterday, announced September 5 as date for the full resumption of international flights in the country.
Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu, made the announcement at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 pandemic briefing.
He said the shift in date was necessitated by the logistical challenges which must be addressed before flight resumption.
Nuhu, who was representing Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said forms for COVID-19 test and other preparations to forestall the spread of the virus have to be put in place hence the need to extend by one week.
He said the country is pushing ahead with the implementation of the principle of reciprocity against the nationals of some countries that were imposing stringent traveling conditions on Nigerian citizens on the bases of COVID-19 cases in the country.
Nuhu said a comprehensive list of the affected countries would be released alongside the COVID-19 protocols.
Countries in the European Union (EU) had included Nigeria on the list of banned countries on July 1 when they opened their airspace for international flights.
The Ministry of Aviation has said only about 1280 passengers would be allowed in on a daily basis in Abuja and Lagos airports when the country resumes international flights.
Meanwhile, government has described as ‘impressive’ the declining fatality and reduction of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country.
This is even as it alerted that the epicentre of the virus has shifted from Lagos, Ogun, Kano and Oyo states to Plateau State.
Acording to Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman, PTF on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha: “As we enter the last week of this extended eased lock-down phase and the impressively declining fatality ratio and reduction of confirmed cases, the PTF would also like to draw our attention to a subtle change in epi-centre of the virus. We all recall that Lagos, Kano and Ogun states were the initial epi-centres and this to Oyo at a time, and now it is Plateau state.
“As mentioned by the Lagos State Commissioner of Health and a notable COVID-19 warrior, Prof. Akin Abayomi, Lagos has passed its peak, but we call for vigilance and cautious optimism because the scourge is not over yet. Our strategic objective still remains, to test samples in high numbers across the entire nation. It is, therefore, in the above context that the PTF re-emphasises her often repeated calls to every citizenry to take responsibility by complying with all guidelines and non-pharmaceutical measures, including wearing of masks properly, maintaining social distances, avoiding large gatherings, maintaining regular hygienic practices and most important staying at home for the most vulnerable. As we keep to these simple protocols, our individual and collective efforts at balancing lives and livelihoods would achieve its intended benefits, especially now that we have opened a lot of sectors and opening more sectors.”
The PTF chairman said Nigeria had done well in curtailing the spread of COVID-19 pandemic six months after the incident case in the country.
To sustain the gains, government has launched the Incidence and Response Tracker Dashboard developed by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group and COVID-19 Resource Tracking Dashboard developed by the United Nations Development Programme.
Mustapha, who did the launch on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, in Abuja, said both dashboards corroborate the government’s focus on a data-driven response.
Mustapha while commending the institutions for making the dashboards a reality said “transparency, governance, and accountability are core values of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, and since the inception of the Task Force, we have been committed to ensuring that Nigeria’s COVID-19 response reflects these values especially in the face of all the scrutiny, mis and dis-information on the PTF’s activities.”