The Nigerian government on Monday added South Africa to the existing list of countries where inbound non-Nigerian passengers are temporarily banned from entering the country.
Nigerian passengers from there are also expected to fulfill some stringent conditions before they are allowed into the country.
The announcement, which was made by the chairman of the presidential steering committee (PSC) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, was said to be in response to the spike in COVID-19 cases in the African country.
Mr Mustapha, who doubles as the secretary to the government of the federation (SGF) noted that the prevalence of variants of concern in South Africa and the dangers associated with importation of such virulent strains to Nigeria made the decision inevitable.
The Nigerian government, on May 2, 2021 announced a temporary ban on non-Nigerian passengers who have been in Brazil, India or Turkey within 14 days of intended arrival into Nigeria.
“South Africa, has however, been added to this category once more,” Mr Mustapha said.
He said his committee has been reviewing these restrictions and agrees they should remain for another four weeks before it is further reviewed.
“A few weeks ago, we announced additional measures to be met by passengers arriving from Brazil, Turkey and India.
“This action was due to the prevalence of variants of concern and the dangers associated with importation of such virulent strain.
“The PSC has been reviewing these restrictions and is of the opinion that they should remain for another four (4) weeks before it is further reviewed,” he said.
Mr Mustapha said South Africa was added to the list due to the increase in COVID-19 cases and also the presence of delta variants causing havoc around the world.
He said the delta variant is not in Nigeria hence the need to tighten the country’s borders and be more vigilant.
According to the PSC chairman, South Africa has recorded over 100,000 cases in the last one week, and 20,000 cases in the last 24 hours.
Other African countries on watch list
He said the PSC has also shifted its focus on other Africa countries like Zambia, Rwanda, Namibia and Uganda.
In South Africa’s Gauteng province, the most populous part of the country, COVID-19 patients are waiting for hours, even days, on stretchers in accident and emergency wards before being found a bed, a report on the Guardian shows.
This has led authorities in South Africa to impose new restrictions to stem the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases.
South Africa’s rising cases are part of a resurgence across Africa, with a peak expected to exceed that of earlier waves as the continent’s 54 countries struggle to vaccinate even a small percentage of their populations.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has repeatedly appealed for vaccines for Africa, saying a fast-surging COVID-19 third wave is outpacing efforts to protect populations, “leaving more and more dangerously exposed”.
“Africa is facing a fast-surging third wave of COVID-19 pandemic, with cases spreading more rapidly and projected to soon overtake the peak of the second wave the continent witnessed at the start of 2021,” Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said recently.
Ms Moeti said the third wave is “picking up speed, spreading faster, hitting harder.”
As of 20 June, which is 48 days into the new wave, Africa had recorded around 474,000 new cases- a figure 21 per cent higher than the increase for the same period in the second wave.
At the current rate of infections, the WHO estimates that the case numbers will surpass the peak of the second wave by early July.
African countries have recorded over 5.4 million cases and almost 145,000 deaths, according to data from worldometers.com, a platform providing statistics on the situation of COVID-19 around the world.
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