Coronavirus: Nigerian govt makes no plan for citizens in China

Minister of Foreign Affairs [Photo credit: Bulet International (Nig.) Ltd]
Minister of Foreign Affairs [Photo credit: Bulet International (Nig.) Ltd]

Despite the growing concerns on the spread of coronavirus, Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has no plan in place for Nigerians residing in China.

A spokesperson for the ministry, Kimiebi Ebienfa, when contacted by a PREMIUM TIMES reporter on Tuesday, said that “for now, no plans are being made to evacuate Nigerians in China”.

He referred further enquiries to the health ministry who said they were focused on ensuring the disease does not spread to Nigeria.

Since the increase in the outbreak of the virus, countries around the world are planning to repatriate their citizens. So far, Wuhan, a province in China has recorded over 100 deaths, while more than 4,500 persons have been confirmed infected.

An unnamed student in Cote d’Ivoire has also reportedly contacted the virus. She arrived from Beijing on Saturday and has since been quarantined by the Ivorian government.

Flurry of interventions

Countries such as the U.S., South Korea, Germany, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Canada, Russia, and the Netherlands have kickstarted arrangements to repatriate their citizens from China.

The United States through its State Department announced that it will “evacuate personnel from its Wuhan consulate and offer a limited number of seats to private U.S. citizens on a flight. Some private citizens will be able to board the “single flight” leaving Wuhan today for San Francisco.”

According to Reuters’ report, France’s first plane will begin to repatriate nationals on Wednesday and will return the next day. The first plane is said to convey people with no symptoms.

A spokesperson to Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said talks are being held with international partners to “find solutions to help British and other foreign nations leave Wuhan.”

PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported that Japan is sending a chartered flight to repatriate 200 of its citizens.

As of 2014, about 10,000 Nigerians reside in China, predominantly in Guangzhou, a city located in the Guangdong province in the Southern part of China. It is reported to have a large population of Africans.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Ministry of Health when contacted shared the measures it is taking to strengthen local preparedness against the virus.

The spokesperson for the ministry, Enefaa Bob-Manuel, said meetings are being held with some ministries towards setting up a committee responsible for scaling up “surveillance and vigilance to detect suspicious cases and ensure containment at all points.”

Critical stakeholders in the aviation, health, security and transport will make up the committee.

She also added that, “attention will focus largely on Nigeria’s five international airports,” because “air travelers are more likely to be carriers of the virus rather than land border crossers.”


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