Nigeria: COVID-19 - Nigeria Set to Resume Evacuation of Citizens Abroad

Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Nigeria in 2019.

The Nigerian government has announced plans to resume the evacuation of some Nigerians stranded abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Sani Aliyu, made this known at its daily briefing on Monday.

Mr Aliyu said the resumption of the evacuation process will be guided by some policies already put in place.

He said with the new protocol, the target is to evacuate a minimum of 1000 Nigerians per week.

This, he said is to clear the backlog of over 4,000 stranded Nigerians in the next four weeks.

He, however, did not mention the specific date the evacuation will commence.

The government had on May 27 announced the temporary suspension of the evacuation process to allow take-off of a new policy, according to the minister of foreign affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama.

Before the halt, Nigeria had airlifted hundreds of its citizens from the UK, U.S., Saudi Arabia and others due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has caused over 400,000 deaths globally.

'New policy'

Mr Aliyu said the new policy seeks to make use of the limited resources and ensure that Nigerians are safely returned home.

He said evacuees will be required to sign an undertaking promising to abide by the guidelines and safety precautions put in place.

"There will be a need for Nigerians coming into the country to undergo PCR tests for COVID-19 before they board.

"These tests need to be valid for at least 14 days. In other words, if the test is done beyond 14 days, it will not be accepted.

"Prior to boarding, they will be required to sign an undertaking that they will follow the necessary precautions that will be applied when they come into the country. These will include:

"The need to make themselves available for repeat PCR tests in the country when they arrived within 72 hours. They will be given an appointment card and an address where they will go and have the tests done.

"They will also be required to stay in the point of entry which will be Lagos or Abuja for now because these are the two cities where the flights will be coming in and this is the arrangement we have made with the private sector, "he said.

He noted that evacuees are to make arrangement for their own accommodation in Lagos and Abuja for a period of 14 days.

"But if they wish, they can stay at home, provided they undergo self-isolation at home, " he said.

The new protocols were jointly designed by various agencies of government including the Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, immigration and security authorities as well as the aviation sector.

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