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Nigeria suspends Emirates flights over COVID-19 tests

epa09085638 A health worker takes a nasal swab sample of a staff member to test for COVID-19 inside the Government Polytechnic College campus in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, 20 March 2021. India recorded over 40,000 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, the highest daily spike since November last year bringing the total infections to over 11 million people making the county the third highest in the world following the US and Brazil. EPA-EFE/FAROOQ KHAN

ABUJA, March 22 (Reuters) - Nigeria suspended the airline Emirates from flying into or out of its territory last week after the carrier imposed additional COVID-19 test requirements on passengers from the country, the aviation minister said on Monday.

Emirates said last week passenger flights to and from Nigeria had been suspended until further notice in line with government directives, but did not give details.

Aviation minister Hadi Sirika told a news conference that the airline had demanded passengers from Nigeria undertake three COVID-19 tests within 24 hours, leading the government to suspend its operations, with the exemption of cargo and humanitarian flights.

“To make us go through three tests within 24 hours does not make sense. Since they insist, their operations remain suspended,” Sirika said.

Last month Nigeria lifted a suspension of Emirates airlines flights imposed after the carrier sought additional COVID-19 tests for passengers from Nigeria.

In addition to requiring a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test before flying from Nigeria, the airline added an extra requirement of having a rapid test four hours before departure.

Dutch airline KLM commenced flights in and out of Nigeria this month, the minister said. (Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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