The Federal Government has cancelled already issued visas to travelers from the 13 effected countries of coronavirus.
This is as a result of the trend of the novel coronavirus disease – COVID-19 and the subsequent declaration as pandemic by the World Health Organisation.
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola said effective Saturday, March 21st, no flights from these countries will be allowed entry into Nigeria.
The 13 countries are: China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Japan, France, Germany, Norway, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Switzerland. These are all countries with over 1,000 case domestically —it is a complete ban.
He said, “It will take effect from saturday March 21st and will will last for four weeks for the time being, while development will dictate what will happen thereafter.”
The Interior Minister said the government was considering other measures and would be made public at the appropriate time.
On possible job loss of ground staff or salary slash, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said: “This is a national emergency. We are talking about national interest now and I believe that what is most important for us is to save millions of Nigerians not just from their own jobs but save their lives. I think if put on the balance it’s clear which option should be adopted. Of course it will bring some hardship as it is bringing in other parts of the world but when you put it on the balance the option is very clear and the interest of Nigeria is paramount and superior to any other personal interest.”
On why implementation of flight ban will wait till Saturday despite the danger posed by the virus, Mohammed said: “Because normally there is what is called NOTAM – Notice To All Airmen. If you want to issue a kind of restrictions like this you give notice more than 24 hours to all airmen so that they will know when to position their flights and for safety and security reasons. For instance if an aircraft has taken off now you cannot ask it to go back mid air.”
On if there will be restrictions in religious gathering, the information minister said there is a presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 and a multi-sectoral emergency operation committee by the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), that have been daily briefing Nigerians as to the development of the virus. He said: “As it is necessary announcement will be made regarding social distancing, personal hygiene as at when due.
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