Few days to the closure of all airports to international flight operations, hundreds of returnees from abroad have not been in self-isolation in the last one week, Daily Trust can report
No fewer than 30 foreign airlines had operated into Nigeria prior to the travel ban.
Some of them flew to all the five international airports in the country prior to the restriction of flights to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
However, 48 hours before the total shutdown of all international entries, many travellers trooped into the country just like others departed, it was learnt.
Although the actual number of those who arrived Nigeria at the last minute could not be ascertained, a source said over 2,000 people did.
Similarly, thousands of passengers also departed the country in the last minute rush to beat the deadline.
For instance the British Airways counter on Monday was filled to the brim with departing passengers just like other airlines like Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, KLM/Air France, among others, operated their scheduled flights.
“I know of a passenger who arrived the country from the United Kingdom, one of the high risk countries, who did not observe the self-isolation procedure,” said a source.
Experts say the manner in which the case of returning passengers was handled demonstrated that Nigeria was simply not prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic.
A former Commandant of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd) said the Federal Government should have isolated all incoming passengers as from February for screening.
He said: “The point to have started was the entry points. Isolate all incoming passengers, but separate foreigners from the Nigerian nationals.
Screen them all and put them on observation for a week or two before releasing them. Foreigners who show the symptoms of the infection at the entry points must be sent back on the return flights that bring them.
“Who should be held responsible? The responsible authority for the management of the crisis, NCDC; unfortunately, I don’t think the agency has any established emergency management programme for managing the type of crisis at hand for national, for state and not even for the local level.
“The ward for accommodating victims of the virus at Abuja is said to be still not ready three weeks since was conceived by the ministry of health. The health workers deployed to be entry points are not sufficiently equipped and if skilled, are not sufficient in number to cover the extensive duty for 24 hours,” he said.
Source: Daily Trust