While many countries are placing travelling restrictions to combat the spread of Covid-19, Nigeria has insisted it would not be banning any legitimate traveller from entering the country.
The minister of state for health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, said on Monday in Abuja that Nigeria still has no plans on restricting any country’s nationals from entering the country.
Instead, the country would be intensifying screening on passengers from eight countries – China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, Germany, Japan, France, and Spain.
Mr Mamora, while giving the national update on the status of the disease in the country, said these eight countries have been highlighted as countries with high risk of widespread community transmission and screening would be intensified on passengers from these countries.
The U.S. and UK, despite having high ongoing transmission and cases, are not part of the countries earmarked for intensive passengers screening.
As at the time of reporting, the U.S. ranks eighth on the table of countries with the highest number of confirmed cases with 3,802 confirmed cases while the UK ranks 10th with 1,391 confirmed cases following Switzerland.
Meanwhile, Japan which is on the list for intensive passengers screening to Nigeria, ranks 17th with 840 confirmed cases.
Mr Mamora said “despite the fact that we have not recorded a confirmed Covid-19 case in the last one week in Nigeria, it is important to remember that we are still at high risk like other countries.
“We continue to monitor returning travellers that fit our case definition and improve our surveillance, detection and risk communication,” he said.
“We have carried out a review of our case definition after the disease was declared pandemic and added three countries to the existing list of five high risk countries with widespread community transmission.”
Although 24 countries including the U.S, Ghana Angola, Australia, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Peru among others have placed some restrictions on travellers due to Covid-19, Nigeria will not be following suit any time soon.
Mr Mamora explained that countries have the right to make policies that suit their situation in combating the Covid-19.
He said “each country will be in position to know when to put restrictions in place in relationship with the situation on ground.
Responding to why the UK is not on the list for intensive passengers screening, he said “We are monitoring situations and it is dynamic and we will do so when necessary.”
He added that passengers from these eight countries will undertake secondary screening at the point of entry and also advised to self-isolate on entry.
While transmission of the disease has remained high globally, Nigeria has so far recorded only two cases of the disease.
The index case, an Italian who had flown into the country for business and the second one of the people who have been in contact with the index case.
While suspected cases are being reported periodically, Mr Mamora said there is yet to be a new case from any of the suspected cases.
The last being a case from Enugu over the weekend and was tested negative.
Index case ‘stable’
Meanwhile, he said the contact case from the index case is well and released to go back into the community.
Mr Mamora said the index case is still however being observed as the viral load of the virus is yet to be at zero significant level.
He said the Italian would be under observation until that is achieved but he is clinically stable and responding to treatment.
Mr Mamora said between January 7 and March 15, a total of 48 people who had met the case definition of the disease has so far been tested in eight states – Lagos, Ogun, Edo, Enugu, FCT, Rivers Kano, Yobe – out of which 47 tested negative and have been cleared, one positive (contact of index case) and one result still pending. There has been no death so far.
Since the onset of the outbreak in Wuhan in December, cases of the virus have spread across all the continent except Antarctica.
As of Monday, over 170,500 cases have been reported in 156 countries with over 6,500 deaths.