The Federal Ministry of Health has approved new health protocols for the Nigerian Aviation Industry due to the current health emergency crisis of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu announced the approval of the new health protocols in a letter to all operators, airports and other service providers.
According to the letter, the new health protocols replace the current practice where Nigerian based flight crew members who operate international flights are quarantined for 14 days upon their return to Nigeria. The flight crew will not be quarantined but undergo mandatory testing for COVID-19 every 14 days, at a cost to the Air Operator upon return to Nigeria. The flight crew members who test positive for COVID-19, will be taken to a treatment centre for further management.
Captain Nuhu says in the new health protocol, the flight crew operating regional and international flights must ensure among others, orientation and sensitization of crew on Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC) measure as per training and guidance from public health authorities.
Others are, ensuring they have adequate stock of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), minimum 70% alcohol-based hand sanitizers and Universal Precaution Kits (UPK) onboard aircraft before the flight and that flight crew wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Onboard the flight crew is requests passengers wash their hands after using the lavatory, apply the disinfectant spray in lavatory every 60 minutes during the flight and to maintain a safe distance between passengers and themselves; avoid direct physical contact and serve only pre-packed meals to passengers.
“Flight deck Crew: Non-medical face mask and gloves. A face mask can be removed when the cockpit door is closed for safety reasons Cabin crew – Non-medical face mask, gloves, disposal surgical gowns and safety visors/goggles.
“Ensure safe removal of gloves after performing specific tasks
(iv) Avoid touching their face and eyes with unclean hands d.
Flight crew are to ensure that all passengers wear a non-medical face mask for the duration of the flight except when eating or using emergency oxygen.
(e) Flight crew are to ensure that passengers rub their hands with alcohol-based sanitizer as they embark the aircraft.”
It added that airline will carry augmented crew to ensure the immediate turnaround of the flight with no crew member disembarking from the aircraft, except the pilot that will conduct the mandatory walk around in which case the pilot is required to wear a non-medical facemask and gloves.
The letter also states that, If the flight crew is to stay over in a foreign country to enable them to observe crew duty time rest period, the Air Operator is to coordinate with the foreign country’s Public Health Authorities at the airport and ensure to Commute arrangements between airport and hotel if required, avoid contact with the public and fellow crew members and remain in the hotel room except to seek medical attention, or for essential activities including exercise, while respecting physical distancing requirements and not use the common facilities in the hotel, like bars, gyms, among others.
“Crew members experiencing symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 during layover or transit should; report it to the aircraft operator and seek assistance from a medical doctor for assessment of possible COVID-19. Cooperate with the assessment and possible further monitoring for COVID-19 in accordance with the evaluation procedure implemented by that foreign country (e.g. assessment in the hotel room, or an isolation room within the hotel, or an alternative location);
“If a crew member has been evaluated and COVID -19 is not suspected in accordance with the evaluation procedure implemented by the foreign country, the air operator may arrange for the crew member to repatriate to the base and if a crew member is suspected or confirmed as a COVID-19 case by the State or foreign country and isolation is not required by the foreign country, such crew member may be medically repatriated by appropriate modes: if there is an agreement to repatriate the crew member to home base.”