The Federal Government through the Ministry of Health has approved a new health protocol for Nigerian crew who operate flights outside the country.
The Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Capt. Musa Nuhu, in a circular to airlines, said the new protocol would replace the current practice where Nigeria-based flight crew members operating international flights would be quarantined for 14 days upon return to Nigeria.
According to the circular, flight crew wishing to operate flights outside the country will be required to stock adequate personal protective equipment, minimum of 70 per cent alcohol-based hand sanitisers and Universal Precaution Kits on board aircraft before any flight.
The new protocol also mandates crew members to observe infection, prevention and control measures for the duration of all flights and ensure that passengers wear non-medical face masks for the duration of flights.
It added that airlines should carry augmented crew to ensure immediate turnaround of flights with no crew member disembarking from the aircraft, except the pilot that would conduct a mandatory walk around wearing a non-medical face mask and gloves.
Among other provisions, the new protocol mandates airlines to ensure that crew members experiencing symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 should report to the aircraft operator and seek assistance from a medical doctor for assessment.
The circular read in part, “Flight crew members will have no physical contact with any person while in the foreign country, including ground handling staff, airline staff, embassy staff, drivers, protocol officers, hotel and accommodation staff.
“Upon return to Nigeria, flight crew will not be quarantined but will undergo mandatory testing for COVID-19 every 14 days at a cost to the air operator.”
Meanwhile, the DG of the NCAA has said measures are being put in place to ensure that air transport does not become a means of transmission of coronavirus.
Nuhu made this known on Thursday during a webinar organised by Aviation Roundtable Initiative.
The Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, also stated that to control the spread of the virus, there should be a gradual reopening of airports across the country, beginning with the key centres.