The Nigerian government has warned its citizens against travelling to countries that are currently battling a third wave of the novel coronavirus. The Buhari-led administration further banned travellers from Brazil, Turkey, and India, in its bid to further reduce the spread of the deadly virus in the country.
Boss Mustapha, Chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, who issued the warning, noted that airlines that fail to adhere to the warning would pay a fine of $3,500 for each passenger. Mustapha further stated that health officials would not accept COVID-19 PCR test results older than 72 hours before departure.
He said, “State governments are required to ensure that all returning travellers from all countries are monitored to ensure adherence to the mandatory seven-day self-isolation period and the repeat COVID-19 PCR test on the seventh day after arrival.”
To further prevent the third wave of the Covid -19 pandemic in Nigeria, the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 reintroduced some restrictions on movement and social interactions in the country.
Speaking at the PSC briefing on COVID-19 recently, Dr Muhammad said for land and rail transport, there are no limitations anymore on inter and intrastate travel but service providers must abide by status stipulations from the Federal Ministry of Transport and ensure that PPEs (personal protection equipment) are used and, where applicable, physical distancing is observed.
He said the night curfew is now from 12am to 4am, except for essential service providers and international passengers who just arrived the country or travelling out of the country.”
For event centres that provide outdoor spaces, he said, they can open but not indoor event centres.
Nigeria has recorded over 166,000 cases of coronavirus with over 2,000 deaths. More than 154 million cases have been recorded with over three million deaths globally. With new variants of COVID-19, many countries are currently battling the third wave with is more deadly than the first and second waves put together.
In Germany, COVID-19 patients occupy over 5,000 ICU beds as they also make up about 80 per cent of those in the hospital on heart and lung replacement machines.
The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, has, however, confirmed that the deadly Indian variant of the COVID-19 pandemic is already in Nigeria. For Nigeria to achieve her immunity against the deadly pandemic, the country needs to vaccinate at least 70 per cent of the population. The less than two million vaccinated out of a possible 200 million population is still a far cry.
In all, Nigerians must ensure to keep the COVID-19 infection statistics low in the country. Hence, every citizen must be vigilant and ensure that all visitors to Nigeria, either by air, land or sea, are thoroughly checked.
Nigerians must also avoid non-essential travels, especially medical tourism, for now. Most Nigerians have the penchant to travel to India for every minor ailment. We should learn to use available local alternatives. On its part, the government should also revamp the nation’s ailing health sector.
Information Nigeria pleads with Nigerians to adhere to all COVID-19 safety protocols, such as the use of facemasks, regular use of hand sanitisers, constant washing of hands, and maintaining social or physical distancing. Observing the non-pharmaceutical measures is the best way Nigeria can prevent the third wave of COVID-19.