The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi, on Monday said the National Assembly and the Ministry of Aviation were considering banning flights from the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries with high rates of COVID-19.
Adeyemi, who stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, said a decision on the issue would be announced next week.
The Federal Government’s plan may not be unconnected with pressures on it to stop further spread of coronavirus by banning flights from nations with high rates of the virus.
Recall that the President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Prof Innocent Ujah, had in an interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, said travellers from the UK and the US were worsening COVID-19 cases in Nigeria.
The NMA president stated, “Government knows that they (travellers from the UK and the US) are the ones responsible for an increase in cases and the results have shown that and government knows what they should do.”
Although the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 had on Thursday imposed fresh requirements on passengers from the UK and South Africa, flights from the two countries were not banned.
The PTF only opened registers for travellers from the two countries because of deadlier strains of coronavirus discovered there.
It, however, said there were no new strains of the virus in Nigeria. But there are fears that travellers who obtained fake COVID-19 results could have brought the new virus into the country.
According to worldometers.info, as of 6:55pm on Monday, the US had recorded 19,589,952 COVID-19 cases with 341,332 deaths.
The UK had 2,329,730 COVID-19 cases with 71,109 deaths. Sweden had 396,048 cases with 8,279 recorded.
As of Sunday, Nigeria had recorded 84,414 cases of the virus with 1,254 deaths. But deaths from the virus have increased sharply since the second wave started last month.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control had said after a drop in the death rate from September to November, it went up to 74 this month.
Adeyemi, in the interview with The PUNCH, said the National Assembly and the Federal Government were concerned about the second wave of COVID-19.
He stated that the joint National Assembly Committees on Aviation, the Aviation Ministry and agencies in the sector had been holding regular meetings in the past few days on the matter.
He said the meetings were seriously discussing possible impacts of the proposed ban and other associated issues.
Adeyemi said, “We are still trying to study the situation so as to know the appropriate steps to take. It is a very sad situation no doubt.
“The National Assembly and the Aviation Ministry are looking at what really should be done on the call to ban some of the flights coming in, not only from the United Kingdom but also other countries where the pandemic spreads are more severe.