Health Minister Dr Osagie Ehanire at the briefing

Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said on Thursday that Nigeria had not placed travel restrictions or ban following the outbreak of the coronavirus, code-named COVID-19 because of its reliance on surveillance, among others, at all entry points.

Ehanire said this in Abuja while briefing members of the Diplomatic Corps on measures taken by Nigeria to contain the spread of the virus and the Federal Government’s Visa-On-Arrival policy.

He said that the measures were initiated as a result of the two cases of COVID-19 so far recorded in the country with no deaths or serious illness as of March 11, 2020.

According to him, Nigeria’s preparedness and response are focused on surveillance at every entry point, infection prevention and control, risk communication, laboratory diagnosis, case management and coordination.

“The President of Nigeria just constituted the Federal Task Force led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

“Call care service at the Federal Ministry of Health has intensified screening of all incoming international travellers with the use of thermal scanners. We issue passengers self-reporting forms provided to all airlines.

“Nigeria has not yet placed any travel restrictions or ban. We strongly advise against non-essential travel to countries with high level of transition, such countries defined now as China, Japan, South Korea, Italy and Iran.

“We also require travellers from these countries to be in isolation for 14-days after entering Nigeria.

“This will be revised always according to the assessed level of risks. Travellers from these countries are not expected to undertake special measures, but to report immediately if there are any symptoms.”

He urged countries with high rate of COVID-19 transition to also conduct travels with screening and restrain travellers with obvious signs of being aware before boarding aircraft.

He stressed the need for yellow fever vaccination at points of entry as instructed by the World Health Organisation to help protect citizens.

The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mr Muhammed Babandede, said the Nigerian visa policy outlines the expectations of the Immigration Act of 2015 and Immigration Regulation of 2017 with respect to administration of visa in Nigeria.

“In view of the partial successes of the Nigerian visa 2012, there is the need to complete the implementation of this document and create the opportunity to reflect current global best practices,” Babandede said.

Mr Salaheddine Abbas Ibrahim, Dean of Diplomatic Corps and Cameroon High Commissioner to Nigeria, expressed appreciation to the Federal Government for organising the event.

According to him, it is necessary for the diplomatic corps to know what has been done in Nigeria  since the first case of the coronavirus was confirmed in Nigeria.

“From the presentation by NIS, it was also important for us to know about it and convey to our residents the measures taken by the Nigerian government.

“We now know the type of documentation we have concerning diplomatic visas, when asking for visa from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.