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Osagie Ehanire Minister of Health

FG condemns United Kingdom, Canada’s travel ban on Nigeria, not planning to reciprocate 

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The Federal Government of Nigeria on Sunday faulted the travel ban placed on Nigeria by the United Kingdom, Canada, Indonesia, Singapore and Hong Kong but ruled out the possibility of reciprocating.

Health Minister, Dr Osagie Ehanire, made the position of the Nigerian government known on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme on Sunday.

He described as unfortunate the knee-jerk reaction of some countries to the Omicron strain. He noted that even the World Health Organisation had recently said that countries should focus more on collaboration rather than shutting borders.

“At the moment we have no plans restricting anybody coming from another country,” he said.

“We are watching what the science community is saying and of course not rushing to judgment and we are also not applauding any lockdowns or any prohibitions or banning of flights or movement of people until we know more.

“We believe that the harm it will do to livelihoods and economies may be more than the perceived value that will be derived from shutting movement between countries. I believe countries should come together to take a common approach and that includes the UK and other countries contemplating a red list,” Ehanire added.

When asked why there was a large number of outbound Nigerian passengers testing positive abroad despite testing negative in Nigeria, Ehanire admitted that indeed, some fake test results were being presented by passengers.

The minister said the government had tightened its mechanism for spotting fake results and vaccination cards.

He, however, argued that the development was not peculiar to Nigeria, adding that most of the inbound passengers that tested positive in Nigeria were actually from the UK.

“Because of the very large volume of travellers from the UK, we also have the most positive COVID-19 virus coming from the UK too,” the minister said.

When asked if anyone had been prosecuted for presenting a fake vaccination certificate or test result, Ehanire explained that the normal procedure was to quarantine such people before handing them over to the police. He admitted that he never followed up to know what happened to such people

Ehanire said the government was exploring the option of setting up vaccination centres at supermarkets and worship centres.

The minister added that the government was looking at vaccinating at least 70 per cent of the population against coronavirus.

He stated that Nigeria had about 100 million doses which would be delivered to the country in phases.

On the possibility of vaccine production, Ehanire said the Federal Government was seriously looking towards that, adding that it would be a collaborative effort with the private sector.

Regarding the possible spike in COVID-19 infections during the Yuletide, Ehanire said the government would continue to encourage non-pharmaceutical interventions like wearing of masks, social distancing and use of hand sanitisers.

When asked if Nigeria was already facing another wave of COVID-19 infections, he responded in the affirmative, adding that the 4th wave had been predicted long ago and this may just be it

Ehanire stated, “We had the so-called third wave already with the Delta variant. This is what we are looking at as the 4th wave and it was predicted as far back as a month ago that there might be a 4th wave in Nigeria and perhaps the world and it is already accurately manifesting. We hope it doesn’t get to be that and if it becomes the 4th wave, it will not be deadly to our citizens.”

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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