COVID-19: Nigerian govt. approves gradual reopening of international flights
Nigeria will reopen for international air travel in a matter of weeks, the aviation minister said on Thursday, without giving a specific date for the resumption after months of closure due to the global coronavirus pandemic. “It will be in weeks rather than in months,” Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika told a regular briefing in the capital Abuja on coronavirus.
Nigeria began to close its airports in March, a month after Africa’s most populous country confirmed its first coronavirus case. Domestic air travel restarted last month. The country has 44,890 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 900 deaths, figures from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control show.
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has approved gradual reopening of international flights and train services across the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that this was part of the decisions reached at the end of the second extension of the second phase of eased lockdown.
The Chairman of PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, said this while speaking at the daily briefing of the PTF on Thursday in Abuja.
He said, “It’s important to ensure that restrictions are not completely relaxed in order to control transmission.
“It is also important that at this Community Transmission Phase of the pandemic sub-national governments step up to take more responsibilities by owning the response.
“To sustain gains already made, therefore, the PTF recommended to the President the retention of the current phase of the response with minor changes to address economic, socio-political and health concerns.
“It is, however, important to inform you that the major changes being proposed are aimed at achieving the following:
“Gradual re-opening of international air flights within established parameters;
“Re-opening of rail transportation within established parameters”.
Also speaking, the Coordinator of PTF, Sani Aliyu, said the PTF had communicated to the aviation ministry to begin processes of reopening international flights.
Mr Aliyu also noted that one of the new requirements would be to ensure that international passengers arrived three hours before departure to ensure proper checks before take-off.
He further stated that if all requirements from the aviation sector were made the resumption of international flights would be a matter of weeks and not months.
Answering a question from the media, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, explained that the aviation sector was ready to open any moment.
Mr Sirika also explained that international flights would open as soon as it was safe to operate as all efforts were being put in place to ensure the reopening in weeks and not in months.
In pictures: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visits the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) treatment facilities at the NASREC Expo Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa April 24, 2020. (Jerome Delay/Pool via REUTERS.)
Togo coronavirus cases surpass 1,000
Togo reported 13 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing its total tally to 1,001. The West African nation has far recorded 21 deaths since the pandemic began, with 690 people having recovered.
Djibril Mohaman, the National Coordinator for COVID-19 response, said Togo is experiencing new outbreaks in the central and northern regions and warned of an increase in cases over the coming fortnight.
“Over the coming two weeks, there will be an increase in confirmed cases after the monitoring of the contacts,’’ he said.
A volunteer wears a smling mask as she waits to sanitize people’s hands during the weekly feeding scheme at the Heritage Baptist Church amid the coronavirus emergency lockdown in Melville, Johannesburg. Volunteers from the Viva Foundation have been helping feed around 500 people per week at the church. Food insecurity remains a pressing issue in South Africa amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and a recent spike in Covid-19 cases. EFE/EPA/KIM LUDBROOK
80% of Africa’s coronavirus testing done by 10 countries, says CDC chief
Ten countries account for 80% of the new coronavirus testing taking place across Africa, the continent’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Thursday, indicating that little testing is taking place in many countries around the vast continent.
Covid-19 confirmed cases across Africa have accelerated and are close to hitting a million this week, and experts say low levels of testing in many countries means infection rates are likely to be higher than reported.
Some governments across the continent are too poor or conflict-ridden to carry out widespread testing, while others are reluctant to share data or to expose their crumbling health systems to outside scrutiny.
South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco, Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda and Mauritius have each conducted more than 200,000 tests, John Nkengasong, head of the Africa CDC, told a virtual news conference.
So far nearly 9 million tests have been conducted across the continent, up 9.4% from last week’s tally.