The Federal Government of Nigeria is worried over the rising cases of mutated strain of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom and may impose a travel ban to and from countries that are still badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Fresh concerns about the coronavirus among Nigerian officials was expressed on Monday in Abuja by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who disclosed at a Special Forum of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that government may consider travel ban to stem a possible spread of mutated virus in Nigeria.
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.