Emirates Airline says it will now conduct rapid COVID-19 tests for Nigerian travellers at the Lagos and Abuja airports before departure.
The test is not the same as the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test required to travel abroad.
In a travel protocol update seen by TheCable, the airline said effective February 1, the tests will be carried out at the airports four hours before departure.
PCR and antigen tests are commonly used to test for the presence of the coronavirus.
Antigen tests look for protein on the surface of the coronavirus to ascertain its presence while PCR tests collect genetic material called RNA that instructs the virus to make these proteins.
Passengers are required to pay N36,800 for the test at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos, and N25,800 at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport on Abuja.
The tests will be conducted at the Mobi health booth in the check-in areas of both airports.
“In addition to the COVID-19 PCR test certificate required for transit through Dubai and final destination, passengers are required to carry out a rapid COVID-19 antigen test within four hours of departure effective February 1, 2021,” the update read.
“Facilities for antigen testing are available at the Lagos and Abuja international airport departure levels.
“Please be advised that passengers are to arrive at the airport to carry out the Rapid COVID-19 antigen tests first before check-in. Results will be out within 15 to 20 minutes. Upon having a negative rapid test result, passengers may proceed to the check-in counter.”
This development is coming barely a week after the presidential task force on COVID-19 announced that the virus strain first reported in the UK has been found in Nigeria.
An investigation by TheCable had revealed that ready-made negative COVID-19 tests are being sold to passengers in Nigeria without going through the mandatory tests as stipulated by the presidential task force.
United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities have already banned transit flights conveying Nigerians from its airports while Nigerians on transit flights operated by UAE carriers are confined to the airports.