The Role of International Flights in Covid-19 Pandemic: Global, Africa and Nigeria’s Narratives

Seyi Samson Enitan, Surajudeen Alim Junaid, Godwin Ovie Avwioro, Kester Awharentomah, Adeolu Sunday Oluremi Digban, Richard Yomi Akele, Kayode Abraham Olawuyi, Grace Oluwatoyin Mensah-Agyei, Esther Omolara Adetiloro, Comfort Bosede Enitan, others

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the novel Coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on the 11th of March, 2020. International flights from the epicenter of the outbreak (Wuhan, China) were identified as a key driver of the current pandemic. About 231 international flights were reported to have left China to other parts of the world in January, 2020. Exposed individuals who travelled from the epicenter of the outbreak to different countries by international flights for one reason or the other were responsible for exporting the virus to their various country of destination. In order to prevent the spread of the virus, many countries took some strict measures including the closing down of their airports and air spaces to international flights from high risk countries as the number of confirmed cases and fatalities began to rise. Lack of activities resulted to huge financial losses in the aviation industry with many airline operators laying off their workers. In other to ameliorate the negative impacts of the pandemic on the global economy after several months of lockdown; many countries have now re-open their airports and resume international flight operations; without recourse to the possibility of a second wave. In the absence of strict adherence to the COVID-19 safety guidelines, accidental exposure to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) can occur at any point: pre-boarding, boarding or post-boarding. SARS-CoV-2 may be contracted from infected airport workers, cabin crew members or passengers, whether they show symptoms or not. In view of the renewed upsurge of the virus globally, the need to optimize disease surveillance system at various international airports across the globe, as well as ensuring strict compliance to the international travel advisory cannot be overemphasized. This paper seeks to examine the role of international flights in COVID-19 pandemic; including the associated impacts, risk of exposure and guidelines for safe flight operations in the aviation industry amidst the pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)696–710
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Health, Safety and Environment
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2020


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