Worried about the mutated strain of COVID-19 manifesting itself in the United Kingdom, the Federal Government says it may impose a travel ban to and from certain parts of the world.
Mohammed, a member of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, said while the government appreciates the negative economic impact of another lockdown, it would not rule out restriction on movement to and from certain parts of the world.
“We are more concerned about the new strain of COVID-19 which is manifesting itself in the UK; that is the mutated strain.
“It is difficult to detect, it spreads faster and people have been known to die of it within a very short period of its detection.
“This is a major concern to us as a country.
“While I do not want to pre-empt the PTF because we are meeting this afternoon, it is going to be top on the agenda of our discussions.
“I will not be surprised if that will be the recommendation of the committee which is meeting later today,’’ he said.
The minister added: “This season, many students are coming from the UK in particular, to come and join their families in Nigeria.
“Besides, many of our people, because of the traditional link we have with UK, may want to go there for business or family re-union.
“It is a very testy time and it might be another dangerous period to transmit this new variant of COVID-19.”
The minister noted that many European countries had banned flights to and from the UK.
According to Mohammed, the Federal Government will not hesitate in giving the directive if it is the only way Nigerians can be protected from the agony of the new variant of COVID-19.
Besides measures to prevent the importation of the new strain of COVID-19, the minister said government was worried about the spike in infections in the last couple of days.
He enjoined Nigerians to comply with the advisory being regularly issued by the PTF, including the use of face mask, compliance with social distancing protocols and regular washing of hands with soap and water.
The minister also urged Nigerians to refrain from local or international travels except if absolutely necessary.
The New Strain
The United Kingdom has recorded 2.04 million cases of COVID-19 and 67,401 deaths.
There have been reports of a new strain of the virus in the United Kingdom and this has necessitated the suspension of flights from the country to France, Germany, Ireland and other countries in Europe.
Canada, India, Argentina, Chile and Colombia have all joined the list of non European countries to suspend direct flights to and from the UK.
Nigeria’s former vice President, Atiku Abubakar has also urged the Federal government to consider imposing temporary suspension of flights from the UK.
“The reason Nigeria took a harder than necessary hit during the first wave of the #COVID19 virus is that the Federal Government failed to heed the warnings of well-meaning Nigerians, like myself and others, to shut down our borders once the virus became a pandemic,” Atiku said in a statement on Sunday.
“Hindsight is 20/20. Nevertheless, we must learn from history, or we stand the risk of repeating it.
“The new strain of COVID19 that has erupted in the United Kingdom, and specifically, London, can add to Nigeria’s health emergency if we do not act with an abundance of caution and temporarily halt all flights to and from the UK until this new strain is brought under control.
“Already, prudent nations are taking prompt action, and Nigeria must take necessary precautions due to the volume of air traffic between Nigerian airports and London, where this new strain has erupted.
“We must face the reality that our health sector is not sufficiently prepared to handle a sudden and unpredictable surge of this pandemic. We have already lost lives needlessly. We need not lose more.
“In the case of this virus, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” he said.