The Nigerian Embassy in Washington DC, U.S. has announced its suspension of passport interviews and biometric capture over the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
The announcement, made on Sunday, is effective from Monday, March 16. A statement to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) said “the suspension will take effect on Monday until further notice.”
Emergency Travel Certificates (ETC) will continue to be issued out to those who need to travel urgently via mail. The suspension is part of precautionary steps taken to “protect the health and well being of all passport applicants and staff.”
Applicants for ETC are required to forward their applications through mail, the Nigerian embassy in Washington said, “attaching the relevant documents and self-addressed mailing envelope.”
According to the consulate in Atlanta, “the ETC will be processed and mailed back to applicants.”
Coronavirus in the U.S.
The first case of COVID-19 in the USA was confirmed in February and the first death on the 29th of the same month.
Since then cases have rapidly increased. As of today March 16, Worldometer reports that there have been 3782 confirmed cases and 69 deaths due to the virus. Seven states have confirmed cases, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, California, Massachusetts, Arizona and Wisconsin.
Cases in the U.S. range from imported cases in travellers, cases among close contacts of a known case, and community-acquired cases where the source of the infection is known.
The President of the U.S. placed a travel ban on 26 European nations, these nations form the Schengen Area, they are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland, as a precautionary step against the spread of the virus, the plan took effect on Saturday. The ban is expected to last for 30 days.
Although initially exempted, Mr Trump later on added the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland to the list.
Top leaders of the European Union, European Council and European Commission Presidents Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen, have expressed disappointment in Mr Trump’s decision. They said, “The European Union disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation.”
They added that “the coronavirus is a global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action.”
Mr Trump, on Sunday tested negative for the virus. He took the test on Friday after coming into close contact with two individuals who have tested positive.
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