The Federal Government has suspended all evacuations of Nigerians stranded abroad pending new protocols on COVID-19 as it affects quarantine of returnees are put in place.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said this in Abuja yesterday at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
“The issue of quarantining in hotels would no longer be feasible. The evacuation was suspended to give room for new measures that would require citizens returning from overseas to get tested and self-isolate at home rather than in designated hotels.
“There is going to be a change in that protocol and that is going to affect the timing of any further evacuation we are going to undertake,” Onyeama
The Minister said, those to be evacuated will fhave to undergo a test from the countries they are returning from at least five days before travelling and not later than nine days before.
“That will be a pre-condition for boarding the flights to Nigeria. And if they are positive, they will not be able to board the flight. On arrival in Nigeria, Aliko Dangote and his other partners will have in place these units where they will take samples from the passengers coming in and they will retain their passports.
“The passengers will then be able to go home and not into prescribed hotels to self-isolate. Results from those samples will then be ready within a day or two; those who are positive will then be taking in for isolation.
“The whole issue of quarantining in hotels will no longer be necessary. This can also mean more people can also come back more frequently, and it will be a lot easier than it has been up to now.
“What we have been asked to do is to cease or suspend all evacuations for now until this new structure is put into place. We are very hopeful that maybe by next week, we should be able to commence evacuation.”
The minister noted that, about 1,000 Nigerians had so far been evacuated and that the government had also evacuated some Nigerian girls that were trafficked to Lebanon.