NIGERIA has banned all international flights shutting its remaining two airports after 10 new cases of the coronavirus pandemic were discovered bringing the total number of people affected in the country to 22.
Although so far Nigeria has not suffered any fatality from the pandemic, there are fears that if one does occur, the problem could spread rapidly, overwhelming the fragile healthcare services. As part of a bid to combat the spread of the virus, the federal government closed the Owerri, Port Harcourt and Kano international airports last week, leaving just the Lagos and Abuja ones operational.
As from Monday, however, the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja will be shut to. With Nigeria’s land borders closed too, this will effectively seal the country off from the outside world entirely as there is no way in or out.
Captain Musa Nuhu, the director-general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, said the closure would last until April 23, although emergency and essential flights will be operated from any of the airports within the period. He noted that domestic flight operations would continue normally in all airports in the country.
“Further to our earlier letter on the restriction of international flights into Nigeria, we wish to inform you that effective Monday, 23rd March at 2300 to 23rd April at 2300, Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja will be closed to all international flights. This is in addition to the closure of Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport Kano, Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu and Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa effective Saturday, 21 March at 2300.
“Henceforth, all airports in Nigeria are closed to all incoming international flights with the exception of emergency and essential flights. Domestic flights will continue normal operations at all airports,” Captain Nuhu added.
Health minister Dr Osagie Ehanire, tweeted this morning: “Nigeria has recorded 10 new cases of Covid 19 in Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). That is a total of 22 cases in Nigeria and currently, Lagos State has 16 cases, while the FCT has three cases.”
Ogun and Ekiti State have two and one cases respectively but Dr Ehanire assured that all cases are clinically stable and receiving adequate care. All three cases in the FCT are being treated at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, while the seven new cases in Lagos are being treated at the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba.