THE Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) yesterday reiterated that the pre-departure and post-departure tests for air travellers, either on local or international flights, are important because individuals have two separate opportunities for infection.
The agency explained that the five-day pre-departure test timeline is still not a guarantee that infections will be averted, as people can get infected before and during travel, hence the need for a post-departure test.
It said that in Abuja for example, five per cent of returning travellers tested positive for COVID-19.
Director-General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, stated these in Abuja during the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing.
He said: “Every Nigerian has the right to come into the country but they don’t have a right to infect other Nigerians. So, we have put a little bit of a preventive measure as similar as many other countries in the world to enable us to protect ourselves because we know we do not have a strong health system as you may have in the countries that they are living in. The pre-departure test is more or less a standard by most countries in the world now.
“A post-departure test is necessary even with a pre-departure test for two reasons. You have two separate opportunities for infection – one is in the five days prior to travel. Initially, we limited it to 72 hours, then to six days, and now we have moved it to five days.
“Because we recognise that many Nigerians were complaining that sometimes they have to go on adjoining flights before getting to the airport of departure, and therefore, it becomes a bit tricky.
“I just saw an announcement by the United Arab Emirates announcing that they too will require a pre-departure test but 96 hours before departure. So, by our allowing five days, we are fairly generous.”