The Federal Government has banned all public officials and workers from travelling abroad aspart of measures to contain the spread of coronavirus.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha announced the ban after a meeting held by the presidential task force on coronavirus in Abuja on Tuesday.
The SGF also advised the general public to cancel all travels abroad especially to all high risk countries. Mustapha said:
“After due consideration and the trend of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the subsequent declaration as pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the committee has decided that we upscale our health emergency system to the highest level and put in measures to curb further spread of the disease.
“So far we have three cases two have tested positive, one negative. We will want to ensure that this does not go beyond this minor figure for now.
“On the part of government, we have decided that it has become necessary to advise all public officials in the Ministries, Department and Agencies and the parastatals that government has banned all forms of travel out of the country for whatever reasons, bilateral, multilateral, conferences, seminars, workshops, negotiations, presentations and any form of other ceremonies.
“This ban will remain in place till further notice and until the situation of the coronavirus abets.
“By this notice, any prior approval to travel abroad for official assignments during this period is accordingly rescinded.
“With regards to the general public, we want to advise strongly that citizens in their own interest should cancel or postpone all non-essential travel abroad including business and vacation trips. This is especially for travels to countries known to be seriously affected by COVID-19,” Mustapha said.
The SGF listed the high risk countries as China, Iran, South Korea, Germany, Italy, USA, UK, Switzerland, Norway, Netherlands, Spain, France and Japan.
He also urged anyone returning from any of the listed countries to strictly self-isolate for 14 days in their homes.
Mustapha said the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) has released guidelines for self-isolation and that the government will ensure that those guidelines are widely publicized.
“Thirdly, all people returning from countries with high community transmission rate especially countries that have recorded a 1,000 cumulative cases and above, will be actively followed up for 14 days by the health authorities.
“We want to put on notice that the Nigerian government supports the measures taken by the government of other countries particularly high burden countries who have urged their residence to stay home and avoid non-essential travels particularly and inclusive to Nigeria.
“We want to urge the Nigerian people to continue to maintain high level of sanitation and hygiene and respiratory etiquette which has been repeatedly advised. Maintaining social distance and avoiding crowded areas should begin to become our lifestyle,” the SGF added.
Meanwhile, the Senate has called on the FG to place a travel ban on high-risk countries such as China, Italy, UK, US and others over the deadly coronavirus.
The call came just few hours after Nigeria confirmed the third case of coronavirus in Lagos State.
The Lagos State Ministry of Health said the infected, a 30-year-old Nigerian female who returned from the UK on Friday, observed self-isolation, developed symptoms and tested positive for the virus.