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COVID-19: Why we insist on post-departure tests -FG



Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said that the Federal Government was insisting on post-departure tests for international passengers to prevent overwhelming the nation’s health infrastructure. 

The Director General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said this on Tuesday in Abuja at media briefing of Presidential Task Force (PTF).

According to him, there are two separate opportunities of infection when you do the pre-departure test, with on being in the five days prior to travel, which was initially limited it to 72 hours, three days, and now moved it to five days. 

He acknowledged that many Nigerians were complaining and sometimes they had to go on adjoining flights.

“Many other countries have limited it. I just saw an announcement by the United Arab Emirates announcing that they to will require a pre-departure test but 96 hours before departure.

“So we allowing five days, we are completely generous. That means there is an opportunity for infection both before travel and during travel. 

“And we have actually seen that a fair number, I think about five percent of travellers in Abuja were actually infected on the point of arrival. So this justifies our work,” Ihekweazu said. 

He added that a couple of studies published in Veitnam and one in Hong Kong havw demonstrated transmission during flights, with the study from Vietnam showing that of 217 passengers, 16 people were infected during that flight. 

“It is very important that we test on arrival and we are trying to make this easier for people to do,” the NCDC boss said.

He said that while there was clamour from Nigerians to shut the airport as quickly as possible during the initial outbreak of the virus, it was a very difficult decision for the country, for Mr President, for the aviation industry. 

He said, “By carrying out decisive action on the instructions of Mr President, we were indeed able to protect Nigeria from a much worse outbreak that we could have other wise experienced.”–

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