The Federal Government has announced a temporary ban on non-Nigerian passengers who have been in Brazil, India or Turkey within 14 days of intended arrival into the country.
This is due to concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, said in a statement on Sunday.
Mr Mustapha said the travel ban does not apply to passengers who only transited through these countries that have been experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases in the past week.
“These precautionary measures are a necessary step to minimise the risk of a surge in COVID-19 cases introduced to Nigeria from other countries,” the statement said.
Nigerians and permanent residents who have been in those countries in the last 14 days will have to undergo mandatory quarantine for a week in a government-approved facility on arrival, it said.
All passengers arriving in the country will now have to show a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of travel rather then the previous 96 hours period.
India has had more COVID-19 cases in the last seven days than anywhere else in the world, Reuters reported.
Indian hospitals, morgues and crematoriums have been overwhelmed as the country has reported more than 300,000 daily cases for more than 10 days straight. Many families have been left on their own to scramble for medicines and oxygen.
Nearly 10 Indian states and union territories have imposed some form of restrictions, even as the federal government remains reluctant to impose a national lockdown.
The pandemic also continued to wreak havoc in Brazil, which on Thursday became the second country to officially top 400,000 COVID-19 deaths — April was Brazil’s deadliest month of the pandemic, with about 100,000 lives lost.
Turkey has also entered its first national coronavirus lockdown as infection rates continue to climb in the country, now the highest in Europe.
Turkey has recorded 37,674 new COVID-19 cases and 339 deaths in the last 24 hours, according to the Turkish Health Ministry’s COVID-19 online dashboard.
Although Nigeria, Africa’s nost populous country, has reported just over 165,000 cases of the coronavirus and 2,063 deaths since the virus first emerged in China at the end of 2019, the move Mr Mustapha said is precautionary.
He said there are penalties for airlines and passengers who fail to comply with the new travel directives.
“Airlines shall mandatorily pay a penalty of $3,500 for each defaulting passenger, Non-Nigerians will be denied entry and returned to the country of embarkation at cost to the Airline.”
“Nigerians and those with permanent resident permit shall undergo seven days of mandatory quarantine in a Government approved facility at the point-of-entry city and at cost to the passenger.”
According to Mr Mustapha, Passenger(s) arriving in Nigeria from other destinations must observe a seven-day self-isolation at their final destination.
“Carry out a COVID-19 PCR test on day 7 at selected laboratory. Shall be monitored for compliance to isolation protocol by appropriate authorities,” he said.
He said that passengers who refuse to comply with directions of Port-Health staff, security agencies or evade quarantine shall be prosecuted in accordance with the law.
Mr Mustapha noted that these precautionary measures were necessary to minimize the risk of a surge in COVID-19 cases while national response activities continue.
He urged members of the public to adhere to all COVID-19 preventive measures including adherence to the national travel protocol, proper use of face masks, regular handwashing and physical distancing.
He also appealed to Nigerians to avoid any non-essential international travels to any country at this period and specifically to countries that were showing a rise in number of cases and deaths.