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COVID-19: FG Extends Travel Ban, Adds SA To List

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The Federal Government has extended the ban on travellers from Brazil, India and Turkey due to the rising COVID-19 cases in those countries by one month.

It has also added travellers from South Africa to the list.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, said this on Monday in Abuja at the national briefing of the committee.

Daily Trust reports that the government in May barred travellers from Brazil, India and Turkey due to rising COVID-19 cases in those countries, saying that the ban shall be subjected to review after an initial period of four weeks.

The SGF who said that the PSC has been reviewing these restrictions and is of the opinion that they should remain for another four weeks before it is further reviewed, also said that South Africa, has, however, been added to this category once more.

“​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 the importation of the such virulent strain.

“The PSC has been reviewing these restrictions and is of the opinion that they should remain for another four weeks (one months) before it is further reviewed. South Africa, has, however, been added to this category once more,” Mustapha said.

While saying that the PSC has been monitoring global developments on COVID-19 with particular focus on variants of concern, he said that the government has escalated surveillance and risk communication.

He added that the PSC has similarly paid close attention to the issue of vaccination, especially matters relating to access and acquisition of vaccines.

“​The PSC wishes to encourage members of the public not to lower their guards yet because we continue to see spikes in some countries (including African countries) and the emergence of variants of concern in several jurisdictions where the third wave has occurred,” he said.

Speaking on the controversy on the Emirate Flight crisis, the SGF said that the PSC updated its position on the issue of emirates flights in and out of Nigeria.

According to him, the relevant ministries continued to review developments and concluded that any decision to fly the Nigerian route by airline is a business decision.

He said, “In all circumstances, however, conditions placed on such flights must conform with international civil aviation standards and must not be discriminatory and must respect our sovereignty.”

Mustapha also said that in addition to the banned countries, the PSC has also shifted its focus on some African countries, including South Africa, Zambia, Rwanda, Namibia and Uganda.

“South Africa for example, recorded over 100,000 cases in the last one week while 20,000 was recorded in the last 24 hours.

“The four major variants of concern are now classified as Alpha (UK), Beta (SA); Gamma (Brazil) and Delta (India). The Delta variant which has wreaked devastating havoc is not yet found in Nigeria hence the need to tighten our borders and be more vigilant.

The SGF said that about six months ago, travel documents of some inbound passengers to Nigeria were barred for a period of 6 months for violating government COVID-19 protocols.

“We have received several appeals from those affected while we counselled on the importance of compliance with rules and regulations. The six-month period of ban for the first batch of 100 is almost complete and we use this opportunity to reassure Nigerians that sanctions will be imposed on violators of measures put in place to protect them and safeguard our nation,” Mustapha said.

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