NIGERIA’S embassy in Washington has suspended the conducting of passport interviews and the capturing of biometric details from applicants in definitely in response to the raging coronavirus pandemic spreading across the globe.
Described by the World Health Organisation as a genuine global pandemic, coronavirus is currently present in 158 countries and has lead to 6,633 deaths worldwide. Nigeria has by and large been one of the countries immune from the threat as so far there have been only two reported cases and both victims recovered successfully.
Africa as a continent has been generally free of the virus, leading some scientists to suggest that maybe the coronavirus cannot withstand the tropical heat. However, African nations are risk of being infected by visitors and their diasporans who live in severely affected countries across Europe, the US and Asia.
As a result, several African nations have imposed severe restrictions on visitors, especially those from affected countries. Yesterday, the Nigerian embassy in Washington joined their ranks, announcing that as from today, all interviews and biometric data capture will be suspended until further notice.
However, emergency travel certificates (ETC) will continue to be issued out to those who need to travel urgently via mail. ETC applicants are now required to forward their applications through mail, attaching the relevant documents and a self-addressed mailing envelope.
In the US, the first coronavirus case was confirmed in February and the first death occurring on the 29th of that month. Since then cases have rapidly increased and as of March 16, there have been 3,782 confirmed cases and 69 deaths due to the virus.
Seven states have confirmed cases of the virus, including Oregon, Washington, Illinois, California, Massachusetts, Arizona and Wisconsin. Already, President Donald Trump has placed a travel ban on 26 European nations including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland as a precautionary step.
Although initially exempted, President Trump later on added the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland to the list. This US travel ban took effect on Saturday and is expected to last for 30 days.