The National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) on Tuesday called on the Federal Government to fast track the process of acquiring COVID-19 vaccine for Nigerians to minimise the rate of contracting the virus.
Its National President, Mrs Susan Akporaiye, who made the call at a media briefing in Lagos, said this was necessary to ensure the aviation sector does not suffer huge loss like what was recorded in 2020.
Akporaiye said that vaccination was key to a speedy recovery from the losses of COVID-19 pandemic.
She commended the Federal Government’s effort for releasing funds for COVID-19 vaccination research in some Nigerian universities, including the University of Calabar and the University of Ibadan.
“Vaccination is actually the road to recovery from COVID-19 pandemic losses; we need to forge ahead.
“COVID-19 has come to stay, and we need to get vaccines quickly to ensure people’s activities and the economy is not truncated again.
“As an association, we call on the Federal Government to hasten up the process of acquiring COVID-19 pandemic vaccine, either locally or internationally,” she said.
Akporaiye, reacting to the rapid response COVID-19 antigen test previously imposed on travellers by the United Arab Emirate Aviation Authority, suggested that the country should still embrace only the Polymerase Chain reaction (PCR) test.
She said the country could curtail the viral spread when travellers who test positive upon arrival in the UAE were made responsible for their treatment, just as practised in Canada.
According to her, this will make travellers more serious and be more cautious.
“For me, the COVID-19 antigen test is not necessary.
“I will advice that the UAE take after what is being practised in Canada whereby any tourist who is tested positive to COVID-19 is made to be responsible for his or her treatment.
“This will put travellers on their toes to go for the test at the appropriate place to guide again fake COVID-19 test and secure their country,” she said.
Akporaiye said that the COVID-19 palliatives meant for its members would be disbursed as soon as the committee set up for the disbursement come up with the sharing baseline.
She said that every financial member of the association and Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) registered members would be captured to receive.
Also, Mr Daisi Olotu, Financial Secretary of the association, commended the Federal Government for a quick and positive response to the UAE antigen test proposal, which made the Nigerian Government to suspend the Emirate Airline.
Olotu said rather than curtailing the viral spread through introduction of rapid response antigen test, the PCR test should be maintained.
He said the travellers should be responsible for their treatment, if tested positive upon arrival.
“It is a slap on Nigeria for the United Arab Emirates to have thought of bringing in foreign medical personnel to the Nigeria airport to be conducting the COVID-19 antigen test, and I love the way our government have reciprocated.
“The PCR and antigen tests to be done at countries of departure and arrival are too expensive for travellers and this will discourage people from travelling,” he said.