The federal government has suspended the evacuation of Nigerians in diaspora until a new structure is put in place to handle the evacuees.
This was disclosed by Foreign affairs minister Geoffrey Onyeama during the Presidential Task Force media briefing on Wednesday afternoon.
“We have been asked to cease all evacuation for now, until the whole structure is put in place” he stated, adding that he is hopeful that the new structure will be in place by next week.
According to the minister, the current arrangement has been quite restrictive as the ministry is often constrained by the resources available in determining the frequency of evacuation flights, and the number of people to be evacuated.
He said that the government is aware of the challenges being faced by Nigerians in diaspora, especially those in China.
Pre-flight testing now a condition for evacuation
Part of the new arrangement is the pre-flight testing. Going forward, pre-flight is a condition for Nigerians in diaspora to get on the evacuation flights back to Nigeria.
“Anybody that is going to be evacuated will first of all, have to undergo a test from the country that they are leaving from, at least five days before travel and not later than nine days before travel. That will be a precondition for evacuation to Nigeria.
“If they are positive of course, they will not be able to get on the flight. If they are negative, they get on the flight,” he stated.
Evacuees will not be quarantined in hotels anymore
According to the minister, the evacuees will no longer be quarantined in hotels for 14 days at designated hotels, but will be allowed to go self-isolate at home after their samples have been collected at the airports.
The ministry will also retain the passports of all evacuees whose samples have been collected before they are allowed to go self-isolate at home.
“Results from those samples will be available within a day or two. Those who are positive will be taken into isolation centres and those who are negative will complete the 14 day period of isolation after which they can come to collect their passport and go their way,” he explained.
The Minister noted that with this new arrangement, the government could increase the number of people being evacuated and the frequency of flights.
He appreciated Aliko Dangote and other private sector participants who rallied around to make these sample collection units available at the airports.
He also revealed that among the people evacuated, 50 trafficked Nigerian girls were rescued from Lebanon.