Senate urges FG to shut borders to countries with high risk of coronavirus

THE Senate on Tuesday beckoned on the Federal Government to consider closing the nation’s borders to non-Nigerian travellers from countries with high incidences of coronavirus, and suspend foreign trips by public officials to forestall the spread of the disease.

At the plenary session, Oloriegbe Yahaya, Chairman Senate Committee on Health who represents Kwara Central Senatorial District made the call after Nigeria recorded its third case of the coronavirus infection.

“If it is possible, people should not travel to countries with a high risk of the cases especially in Europe where many countries are affected, unless such trips are very important,” Yahaya said.

“Government should also consider disallowing non-Nigerians from countries of high risk from entering the country. The Government should also increase capacity about checking airports.”

Several African countries have shut their airports and land borders to keep out people from countries with a high number of coronavirus cases, but the Federal Government had said it was not considering a travel ban.

Egypt which currently has the highest number of coronavirus cases in Africa announced it was suspending flights from all its airports starting Thursday to stop the spread of the virus.



    Ethiopia, Senegal and Kenya have also announced school closures and bans on public assemblies while South Africa joined Uganda to impose travel restrictions on 16 countries with high cases of coronavirus, including the US and the UK.

    Ghana, which has six confirmed cases also issued similar travel restrictions warning airlines not to board foreigners from countries that have recorded more than 200 cases of coronavirus in the last two weeks.
    “All travel to Ghana is strongly discouraged at this point in time,” Ghana’s Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said in a video posted on Facebook.
    Senate President, Ahmad Lawan agreed with Yahaya’s submission and lamented on the lack of infrastructural capacity in providing isolation and testing centres in the North and South East.

    He said Nigeria currently has only five centres where testing can be done, and that “the government has to step up the testing capacity, and provide support for state governments.”

    “Also, for the isolation centres the state governments are building, the ministry of health should come out with a standard which will be replicated in all the states.

    “So we need to through our committees, ensure we work with the ministry of health to work with the states to ensure the isolation centres are standardised,” he said.

    Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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