COVID-19: Why we soft-pedal on travel ban — FG
The Federal Government says it has not imposed travel ban, particularly to and from UK, over the mutated strain of COVID-19.
The government said it will require the concurrence of neighbouring countries for the ban to be effective.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this when he featured on a Radio Nigeria programme, “Politics Nationwide’’ on Tuesday in Abuja.
During the programme monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mohammed said, ”although the government is concerned over importation of the COVID-19 new strain, it did not want to take a hasty decision”.
He said the Presidential Committee on COVID-19 deliberated on the issue at its meeting on Monday and decided to watch the development for the time being.
He said they are working with West African Health Organisations and other neighbouring countries, particularly, Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana.
“We did not want to take a hasty decision to ban flight from the UK into Nigeria only to find out our people are going through Cotonou, Lome or Accra to come into the country.
“What the Airlines will do is to transfer Nigerian passengers to these routes and they will enter the country through the land borders.
“This will lead into hardship to Nigerians because if you transfer your economy to other countries you lose a lot of money.
“However, if we get the concurrence of these other countries, we will not hesitate to do the needful.
“We are consulting and being very careful in order to take a proper decision,’’ he said.
It would be recalled that the minister gave the hint on Monday that the Federal Government might impose travel ban to and from certain parts of the world into the country.
Mohammed, a member of PTF, had said at a Special NAN Forum that the government was concerned about the new strain of COVID-19, manifesting itself in the UK that is the mutated strain.
“It is difficult to detect, it spreads faster and people have been known to die of it within a very short period of its detection.
“This is a major concern to us as a country.
“Why I did not want to pre-empt the PTF because we are meeting this afternoon, it is going to be top on the agenda of our discussions.
“I will not be surprised if that will be the recommendation of the committee which is meeting later today,’’ he said.
The minister noted that many European countries had banned flights into the UK and many imposed restrictions into that country.