NIGERIAN senators are considering banning flights from the UK and the US as part of new protective measures required to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic by limiting travel from countries with high infection rates.
Over the last week, the global pandemic has returned with a vengeance as a new strain of the virus is wrecking havoc worldwide. Due to this second wave, many countries have re-introduced new lockdowns and with fears that numbers could keep rising significantly, Nigerian lawmakers are considering banning flights from a number of nations.
Senator Smart Adeyemi, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation, said the National Assembly and the aviation ministry were working on a list of nations and a decision would be made next week. Professor Innocent Ujah, the president of the Nigerian Medical Association, has already warned that travellers from the UK and the US were worsening Covid-19 cases in Nigeria.
He said: “Government knows that they are the ones responsible for increase in cases and the results have shown that and government knows what they should do.”
Although Nigeria’s Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19 has recently imposed fresh requirements on passengers from the UK and South Africa, flights from the two countries have not been banned. For now, the PTF has only opened registers for travellers from the two countries because of deadlier strains of coronavirus discovered there.
It, however, said there were no new strains of the virus in Nigeria but there are fears that travellers who obtain fake Covid-19 results could have brought the new virus into the country. According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, after a drop in the death rate from September to November, it went up to 74 this month.
Senator Adeyemi said: “We are still trying to study the situation so as to know the appropriate steps to take. The National Assembly and the aviation ministry are looking at what really should be done on the call to ban some of the flights coming in, not only from the United Kingdom but also other countries where the pandemic spreads are more severe.
“The fact that we are experiencing the second wave is a concern, so, the ministry and the National Assembly are considering an outright ban of flights from the pandemic prone countries like the United Kingdom, the United States, Asian countries and Sweden, among others. We will arrive at a conclusion in the next few days as we are looking at the figures, the rate of infection, the manner of infection and government response.
“We are studying the implications of the outright ban of flights and whether it would be of any importance to the containment of the virus. We have protocols for visitors arriving in Nigeria which we make sure are being strictly observed nit notwithstanding, in the next few days, we would know what to do.”
Aviation consultant Olumide Ohunayo, said that he was not in support of any ban on flights as long as the guidelines set by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) were still adhered to. Also, Dana Air spokesman Kingsley Ezenwa, asked the government to just continue to enforce Covid-19 protocols.