COVID-19: Nigeria closes airport, land borders for a month

COVID-19: Nigeria closes airport, land borders for a month

Nigeria has announced an immediate closure of its international airports and land borders amid efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

President Muhammadu Buhari in a statement said the closure will be effected for the next four weeks.

Buhari said the closure in the first instance will enable Nigeria to put up the appropriate policies, processes and infrastructure to cope with suspected and confirmed cases without risking a compounding of the situation with more imported cases.

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“The inconvenience caused by these flight and travel restrictions to our fellow citizens abroad who want to return home is regrettable, but it is necessary for the greater good,” Buhari said.

As a result, he has directed that only cargo vessels that have been at sea for more than 14 days be allowed to dock at the port after the crew have been tested and confirmed disease-free by the port health authorities.

He said the 14-day restriction does not apply to vessels carrying oil and gas products as, by their nature, there is minimal human contact.

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“We have also suspended the movement of commuter trains to limit the spread of the virus to other parts of the country,” Buhari said.

The president said he has directed the NCDC to draft all its recent retirees back into service to beef up its manpower as they respond to the pandemic.

“All NCDC staff and experts who are away on training or international assignments return immediately,’ he said.

Buhari said already the Nigerian Air Force is conducting evacuation mission to bring back some of Nigeria’s specialists in Central Africa to enable them to support the national response.

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“I have approved the immediate release of a 10 billion Naira grant to Lagos State, which remains the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria. This grant will enable Lagos State to increase its capacity to control and contain the outbreak while also supporting other states with capacity building,” the president said.

Buhari said his government has also approved the immediate release of a 5 billion Naira special intervention fund to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to equip, expand and provide personnel to its facilities and laboratories across Nigeria.

While commending the monitory policy authorities for their financial intervention to support entrepreneurs, Buhari said his administration is looking at fiscal measures to minimise the negative impact of the pandemic on the livelihood of millions of Nigerians.

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