Africa’s most populous country Nigeria on Wednesday belatedly imposed travel restrictions against the United States, China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Japan, France, Germany, Norway, United Kingdom, Netherlands and Switzerland to combat COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The announcement for the travel restrictions was made by the presidential task force on COVID-19 at press briefing in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.
The taskforce said: “Gentlemen of the Press,
“You will recall that yesterday Tuesday 17th March, 2020 the Presidential Task Force on COVlD-19 set up by Mr. President was inaugurated and held its first briefing.
- You will also recall that the PTF at the end of the meeting announced the ban on all forms of travels by public officers and civil servants until further notice,
- This morning, we have found it necessary to brief Nigerians on further measures being taken after an assessment of the global situation. They are as follows:
i. The Federal Government of Nigeria is restricting entry into the country for travellers from the following thirteen (13) countries; China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Japan, France, Germany, Norway, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Switzerland. These are all countries with over 1,000 case domestically;
ii. All persons arriving in Nigeria who might have visited these countries, 0fteen days prior to such arrival, will be subjected to supervised self-isolation and testing for 14 days;
iii. The Federal Government is temporarily suspending the issuance of all visas on arrival;
iv. The Federal Government is also counseling all Nigerians to cancel or postpone all non-essential travels to these countries; and
v. The Federal Government urges Public Health Authorities of countries with high burden to conduct diligent departure screening of passengers and also endorses this travel advisories to their nationals to postpone travels to Nigeria.
- These restrictions will come into effect from Saturday, 21st March, 2020 for four (4) weeks subject to review”.
The 12 member committee was chaired by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
The new directive is coming less than 12 hours after the government banned all foreign travels for public officials in the country,” a local newspaper reported.
Nigeria has eight confirmed cases but the World Health Organization warned on Monday the situation may soon escalate.
The announcement comes as the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 31 countries in Africa and infected about 548 people, according to the latest tally by virus tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins
The situation has evolved quickly over the past week alone, and with several African nations promising to test more people, the picture may get darker and darker.
The virus has spread from northern Africa to the South and from East Africa to the West.
On Wednesday morning, there were 196 cases in Egypt, 116 in South Africa, 60 in Algeria, 44 in Morocco, 26 in Senegal, 24 in Tunisia and 15 in Burkina Faso.
There were 10 cases in Cameroon, 8 in Nigeria, 7 in Rwanda, 7 in Ghana, 5 in Ethiopia, 5 in Cote D’Ivoire, 3 in Kenya, 3 in DRC, 3 in Equatorial Guinea, 2 in Liberia and 2 in Namibia.
There was one confirmed case each in The Gambia, Guinea, Tanzania, Gabon, Congo (Brazzaville), Somalia, Benin, Togo, Central African Republic, Eswatini, Sudan, and Mauritania.
Apart from Africa, Ma announced last week he wound send medical relief to the United States.
The novel coronavirus evolution in Africa is similar to the situation in South East Asia.
On Tuesday, the World Health Organization called on member states in South-East Asia region to urgently scale-up aggressive measures to combat COVID-19, as confirmed cases crossed 480, and the disease claimed eight lives.
“The situation is evolving rapidly. We need to immediately scale up all efforts to prevent the virus from infecting more people,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region.
Eight of the 11 countries of WHO South-East Asia Region have confirmed cases of COVID-19. While Thailand has 177 confirmed cases, Indonesia 134, India 125, Sri Lanka 19, Maldives 13, Bangladesh 5, Nepal and Bhutan one each. These numbers are increasing quickly.
“More clusters of virus transmission are being confirmed. While this is an indication of an alert and effective surveillance, it also puts the spotlight on the need for more aggressive and whole of society efforts to prevent further spread of COVID-19. We clearly need to do more, and urgently,” the Regional Director said.