Notwithstanding the raging Omicron COVID-19 variant in Southern Africa and some other parts of the world, Nigeria’s federal government on Friday unveiled a revised COVID-19 protocol, without restricting inbound travellers from any country.
Omicron, identified as a “variant of concern”, was recently detected by South African scientists.
The National Incident Manager of the presidential task force on COVID-19, Mukhtar Muhammad, had last Monday announced that the government would release a new travel protocol to prevent the Omicron COVID-19 variant from entering Nigeria.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) later announced on Wednesday that three cases of Omicron had been detected in the country.
In the new Nigerian travel protocol dated December 1 and signed by Boss Mustapha, Chairman, Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, all in-bound passengers arriving in Nigeria are expected to provide evidence of COVID-19 PCR test to be done within 48 hours before departure and post-arrival day two COVID-19 PCR test.
Also, all unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals are to observe self-isolation for seven days.
In addition, there will be day seven post-arrival exit PCR test for unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals.
All out-bound passengers are also required to provide either a valid evidence of full vaccination against COVID-19 or negative PCR test result within 48 hours from the time of boarding.
Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said the revised protocol “is aimed at further reducing the risk of importation and exportation of COVID-19, especially the variants of concern.”
The SGF added: “The review of the protocol is based on science, national experience, and global developments. The PSC assures Nigerians, that it shall continue to monitor global and specific country situations with a view to taking necessary measures to safeguard the health of Nigerians.
“The PSC calls on all Nigerians to ensure that they have taken their full dose of COVID-19 vaccinations and to continue to observe compliance to public health social measures.”
The World Health Organisation said Omicron had been detected in at least 23 countries, including the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Belgium, Botswana, Israel, Australia and Hong Kong.
Several countries, including the UK, US and Germany have imposed travel restrictions on travellers from Southern Africa.
Last Sunday, the Indonesian government said it would ban travellers from eight African countries, including Nigeria.
The federal government also formally endorsed the administration of booster dose of the COVID19 vaccine for Nigerians.
A statement by the Head, Public Relations Unit of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Mohammad Ohitoto, said: “The Presidential Steering Committee, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency has approved the administration of booster doses for persons that have completed two doses of AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer Bio-N-Tech or 1 dose of Johnson and Johnson.”
He said that there must be time interval of six months or more after receiving the second dose of AstraZeneca, Moderna or Pfizer Bio-N-Tech.
He also said that the time interval of two months or more after receiving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine should be observed before taking the booster dose.
“Consequent upon the above, eligible Nigerians are advised to visit the nearest health facility or mass vaccination site for their booster doses as from the 10th of December, 2021 across all states of the federation,” he said.
According to the DG, NPHCDA, Faisal Shuaib, a COVID-19 booster dose gives greater protection against the virus and urged all Nigerians to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the federal government.
Charles Ajunwa in Lagos, Deji Elumoye, Onyebuchi Ezigbo and Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja