The Federal Government of Nigeria has issued a travel ban on 13 countries over the spread of the Coronavirus.
The countries include China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Japan, France, Germany, United States of America, Norway, United Kingdom, Netherlands & Switzerland.
The restrictions are part of Nigeria’s efforts to avoid the pitfalls that greeted by late response of countries that now have high cases and widespread of the Corona Virus which they are now battling to control.
The restrictions which come into effect from Saturday, 21st March, 2020, is expected to last for four weeks in the first instance.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force PTF COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, stated this on Wednesday in Abuja.
He announced that “ Federal Government is temporarily suspending the issuance of all visas on arrival”
He disclosed that the Federal Government of Nigeria is restricting entry into the country for travellers from the following thirteen (13) countries; 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;
“You will recall that yesterday Tuesday 17‘h March, 2020 the Presidential Task Force on COVlD-19 set up by Mr. President was inaugurated and held its first briefing.
The PTF hard earlier at the end of its first meeting announced the ban on all forms of travels by public officers and civil servants until further notice,
“This morning, we have found it necessary to brief Nigerians on further measures being taken after an assessment of the global situation. They are as follows:
“ All persons arriving in Nigeria who might have visited these countries, 0fteen days prior to such arrival, will be subjected to supervised self-isolation and testing for 14 days;
“The Federal Government is also counseling all Nigerians to cancel or postpone all non-essential travels to these countries; and
“Federal Government urges Public Health Authorities of countries with high burden to conduct diligent departure screening of passengers and also endorses this travel advisories to their nationals to postpone travels to Nigeria.
“These restrictions will come into effect from Saturday, 21st March, 2020 for four (4) weeks subject to review.
The SGF had at the end of the first meeting of the group last night announced travel ban for all public officers
“ After due considerations of the trend and spread of the novel diseases, COVID-19 and the subsequent declarations of the diseases as Pandemic by the World Health Organisation WHO, the committee has committee has subsequently urge that We upscale our emergency response system to the highest level and put in measures to stop further spread of the Disease.
Nigeria has recorded three cases with two testing positive and one negative so far
Mustapha said “ we will want to make sure that it does not go beyond this minor figures for now”
“ So, on the part of government, we have decided to advice that it has become necessary for public officers in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government, including the parastatals that government has banned all forms of travels out of the country for whatever reasons whether for meetings, including bilateral, multilateral, conferences, seminars, workshops, consultations, negotiations and any form of other ceremonies”
The SGF was emphatic that these bans will remain in force until further notice, until the situation of the pandemic nature of the disease abates.
“ By this notice, any prior approvals to travel abroad during this period is accordingly rescinded”
With regards to the general public, we would want to advice strongly that citizens in their own interest should cancel , or postpone all non- essential travels abroad, including business and vacation trips, especially to countries affected by the disease
He also advised those “ entering Nigeria from any country at all to strictly self isolate for at least 14 days at home.
He advised NCDC to ensure that its guidelines for self isolation are widely publicized, even as he urged Nigerians to observed strict regulations on public hygiene, for sneezing, coughing hand shakes, amongst others.
Government also urged Nigerians to restrict unnecessary engagements that will lead to large public gatherings, while maintaining sound public hygiene
The PTF COVID-19 has an initial timeline of six (6) months and as part of its mandate, the team is expected to roll out policies that will strengthen “the national response strategy, particularly in the areas of testing, containment and management of COVID-19; Strengthen collaboration with all tiers of Government, Private Sector, Faith-Based Organizations, Civil Societies, Donors and Partners; as well as create necessary awareness among the populace.
The task force also has the powers to “ direct the deployment of any relevant national assets, and when necessary, Lay a foundation for scientific and medical research to address all emerging infectious diseases.
The task force is also saddled with responsibilities to advice government on the declaration of national emergency as part of the containment measures when necessary.
The SGF said the team is expected to report on regular basis to the President.
“ In order to give the activities of the Task Force proper focus, Mr. President also, approved the appointment of a National Coordinator who will manage the daily process, in collaboration with existing institutions and structures. The National Coordinator will be responsible for cohesion and efficiency in the roles played by the different agencies, operating in the treatment of the national response strategy” he said