As part of efforts in mitigating the spread of the COVID-19, policymakers across the globe are increasingly taking more stringent measures, ranging from imposing travel restrictions, shutting down airports as well as closure of borders.
Notably, world powers such as the United States, Russia, China, Germany, United Kingdom and France have all imposed travel restrictions. In Africa, Egypt, South Africa, Cameroon, Ghana and Algeria are amongst the list of countries that have also followed suit with travel ban.
For Nigeria, the Federal Government announced on Wednesday it had restricted entry into the country for travellers from 13 countries (China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Japan, France, Germany, the US, Norway, the UK, Switzerland and the Netherlands). The restriction is expected to take effect on March 21 and will be in place until further notice. The Federal government also suspended the issuance of visa on arrival to travellers from these countries.
While we applaud the decision of the government, we think it could have been put in place earlier as we understand that travellers from high-risk countries have been coming into the country, which poses a great risk to widespread contamination.
As of March 19, the country’s National Centre for Disease Control announced that four new cases of the virus had been discovered in the country, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to twelve. Notably, many of the new cases involved nationals who arrived from the USA and the UK.
In a related development, we highlight that the National Youth Service Corps on Wednesday also announced the suspension of the ongoing orientation for the 2020 Batch A corps members.
The Lagos and Ogun state governments have also announced an immediate ban of all high-density gatherings that would bring together 50 or more persons such as social clubs, halls, cinemas, night clubs, restaurants, cafes, and sport arenas. Furthermore, schools in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja have suspended activities for now while several businesses have begun to work from home.
To effectively contain the spread of the virus and prevent a nationwide outbreak, we think the government needs to enhance the capacity of the health workers to detect cases promptly, improve health care facilities at the quarantine centres and work on techniques to better track all persons who have come in contact with those that have tested positive. We understand that about 3,000 persons are being tracked.
Furthermore, we believe the government should take a cue from experiences of other countries by shutting non-essential economic activities for a reasonable period to curtail avenues for sustained spread of the virus. Along with the ban, relief packages should be made available for poor households whose income stream would be affected by the shut down.
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