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COVID-19: Nigeria working to lift ban on int’l flights

Anthony Iwuoma

The Federal Government on Monday said it is working hard to fast-track reopening the international airspace.

Speaking during the briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Chairman of the PTF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, also warned that the pandemic remained dangerous.

Mustapha, who is also Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), added that the government had continued to assess the developments and the level of compliance nationwide.

The PTF chair condemned attitude of a lot of Nigerians, who still doubt the virulent nature of the COVID-19 and flagrantly disregard the stipulated guidelines.

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 “We informed you two weeks ago that the process of submitting the 6th Interim Report and recommendations for next steps had commenced.

“The PTF has reached advanced stages of the process. It has also considered that due to the upcoming Sallah (Eid El-Kabir) festivities which coincides with the expiration of the current phase, it would be prudent to extend by one week, from 29th July, 2020 till Thursday 6th August, 2020,” he said.

 “It has accordingly secured permission to retain the existing guidelines till that date. Considering the importance of international air travel to the economy, the PTF and the Aviation Sector are working hard to fast track reopening of the international airspace.

“Most importantly, the arrival protocols for passengers on inbound flights are being firmed up for seamless testing and detection. Relevant MDAs will be holding further consultations.

“The COVID-19 remains very virulent and very dangerous. Our analysis has shown that people over 50 years of age especially those with underlying factors remain most at risk.

“This position is backed by the fact that 65% of fatalities recorded in Nigeria are in this category.

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“That brings me to the need to appeal to Nigerians on the need for a change of behavior and compliance with guidelines and measures put in place.”

Speaking further, Mustapha stated: “If you do not need to go outside your home, please stay indoors.

“Avoid large gatherings and observe all the measures. In recent times, our risk communication teams have developed messages aimed at resonating very well with different demographic groups.

“The common string is the message for compliance and the proper wearing of face masks and coverings in public spaces. The National Coordinator will be elaborating further on this.

“As we prepare for the Eid-El-Kabir celebration, we also want to urge all our Muslim brothers and sisters and indeed all Nigerians to continue to observe all measures.

“We note with delight, the increasing number of States that have shelved activities during the Eid-el-kabir and we still urge others yet to do so, to follow suit.”