By Ahmed Rahma
Nigeria is considering suspending international travel as a precautionary measure over new the COVID-19 strain which the federal government says is manifesting itself in the United Kingdom.
Speaking at a special forum of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, said there was yet no proof that the new variant was more contagious but the nation was taking precautionary measures.
“We are more concerned about the new strain of Covid-19, which is manifesting itself in the UK; that is the mutated strain.
“It is difficult to detect. It spreads faster, and people have been known to die of it within a very short period of its detection. This is a major concern to us as a country.
“While I do not want to pre-empt the PTF because we are meeting this afternoon (Monday), it is going to be top on the agenda of our discussions. I will not be surprised if that will be the recommendation of the committee which is meeting later today,” the Minister said in Abuja on Monday.
He added that, “This season, many students are coming from the UK in particular, to come and join their families in Nigeria.
“Besides, many of our people, because of the traditional link we have with the UK, may want to go there for business or family reunion.
“It is a very testy time, and it might be another dangerous period to transmit this new variant of COVID-19.”
Mr Mohammed noted that many European countries like The Netherlands, Ireland, Bulgaria, Austria and Belgium have already suspended flights to and from the UK.
The new variant of the virus is believed to have first appeared in the London and Kent areas in September and is reported to be up to 70 per cent more contagious than other strains.
Besides measures to prevent the importation of the new strain of COVID-19, the Minister said the government was worried about the spike in infections in the last days.
As a result, the federal government has directed all restaurants, bars, night clubs and event centres nationwide to be closed, as part of its efforts to curtail the spread of the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.
The federal government also urged Nigerians to comply with the advisory being issued by the PTF, including the use of face masks, compliance with social distancing protocols and regular washing of hands with soap and water.
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