NIGERIA’S federal government has announced that any ban imposed on flights to and from the UK in response to the emergence of a new strain of the Covid-19 virus will be done in conjunction with neighbouring West African countries.
Over the last few days, several countries have introduced UK travel bans, suspending flights to and from Britain as a result of this new strain of the virus. There are fears that the new strain which broke out in the UK this week may be more virulent than existing ones and health experts are not sure they will be able to contain it.
Nigeria is considering joining several European nations in banning flights to and from the UK but the federal government said it is still studying the situation. Information minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the government was watching neighbouring countries, such as the Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana before taking a decision.
He added that there needs to be a synergy with neighbouring countries for such a ban on UK flights to effective. According to the minister, 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.
Alhaji Mohammed said: “Although the government is concerned over the importation of the Covid-19 new strain, it did not want to take a hasty decision. 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 to 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 pointed out that the Nigerian government is working with West African health organisations and other neighbouring countries. So far, no West African nation has introduced a UK travel ban yet.