The Presidential Task Force against Covid-19 is considering restricting international travel into Nigeria as fear of a second wave triggered a second lockdown of the country.
The Federal Government on Monday, December 21st, directed all schools to remain closed until at least January 18, 2020, as well as ordering all Federal Government workers on grade level 12 and below to stay at home for the next 5 weeks. The government also announced it has advised states to consider banning bars, nightclubs, event centres all considered super spreader events for Covid-19.
This is as the government said it is considering imposing some new restrictions on international flights due to the discovery of new strains of the coronavirus disease in certain countries.
Ban international travel?
According to tweet posts on his official Twitter handle from the Special Assistant to the President on New Media, Tolu Ogunlesi, there are discussions being held around a potential restriction of international travel. The Presidential Task Force (PTF) also said about 20, 216 passengers who arrived in Nigeria from abroad have not shown up for mandatory post-arrival tests.
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- A new strain of the virus has been widely reported to originate from the United Kingdom and is thought to be spreading fast. Nigerian online paper.
- Premium Times reported on Monday that the new variant is reportedly in Nigeria according to scientists at the Africa Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), at the Redeemers University in Ede, Osun State.
- However, they clarified that the new variant was first reported in October when the number of cases was low suggesting that the recent surge in cases may not be a result of the new variant.
- Nevertheless, Nigerians are worried about the resurgence of Covid-19 cases and blame some of this on the international travelers returning home for the holiday.
- A staff of a shipping company who pleaded anonymity informed Nairametrics that he has sent everyone in his department on compulsory work from home and self-isolation after a staff confirmed she tested positive. The staff informed her boss that her hubby had just returned from abroad and earlier tested positive for the virus.
According to Tolu Ogunlesi, “the test positivity rate in travelers arriving Lagos has recently doubled to 6.3%” confirming that more international passengers who have arrived in Nigeria are testing positive. He also said Lagos, Kaduna, and FCT are the “epicenter” of new cases with over 70% of all confirmed cases.
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New Travel Bans
While Nigeria ponders on whether to impose travel banks, other countries have already started placing travel restrictions as they seek to contain the spread of the virus.
- Israel, Turkey, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland have all barred air travel to and from South Africa, following the discovery of a new variant of the coronavirus.
- European countries have started to close their doors to travelers from the United Kingdom on Sunday, with the banning of flights and trains over concerns about a new coronavirus strain that is spreading quickly through the country.
On March 18, 2020, the Federal Government via the PTF issued a travel ban against 13 countries to curb the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
- The Presidential Task Force disclosed that @NigeriaGov is restricting entry into the country for travelers from China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Japan, France, Germany, and Norway. Others are the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, and Switzerland
- At the time, the ban was for an initial 4 weeks but stayed until late August before it was lifted.