As Nigeria battles the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, a Professor of Virology, Oyewale Tomori, has urged the Federal Government to ban all flights from the United Kingdom, and other countries with high cases of COVID-19.
No fewer than 40 countries including Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Mauritius have suspended travel from Britain in a bid to contain a fast-spreading new strain of COVID-19.
Tomori, who is the Chairman, Expert Review Committee on COVID-19, said Nigeria was yet to ban travellers from Britain because government officials want to travel to the UK which has become one of the top destinations of the Nigerian elite.
“The reason is because the big people are thinking of themselves. ‘Oh, I want to go to London. My children want to come back home’. That is why they are putting g the whole country in danger,” Tomori said on Wednesday.
He spoke on a PUNCH Online interview programme, The Roundtable.
The health expert further said Nigeria’s overburdened health facilities don’t have the capacity for more COVID-19-infected persons.
o“Our health systems cannot contain the problem that will come if new cases are imported. Those countries that are banning have their reasons for banning. It is now for us to analyse our situation. First, we don’t even know how many of those people who have come into the country have it because our system is not testing it quickly.
“Those countries where they (travellers) came in from, they test almost on a daily basis to know, ‘How many people come in from Britain? How many people have this kind of infection?’ We don’t have that kind of information in Nigeria because our system is two years behind.
“In Nigeria, we plan tomorrow for what happened yesterday, other countries plan yesterday for what will happen tomorrow. That is what is happening to us.”
Tomori said the government should identify high-risk countries and place a temporary ban on them.
“I won’t say do a total ban but I would rather propose the three Ts – Targeted, Time-Limited and Transport Back. What do I mean by that? We know certain areas where the problem is and we know the season when we have an upsurge of people from those places. For that period, I will limit people coming from those areas.
“We already have it here but we don’t want more because if more comes into the country, can we cope with it? Therefore, let’s limit the people coming in from there for a period.”
The professor, who further stated that members of the Nigerian elite were most likely to flout the travel ban, challenged the government to deal decisively with the erring members of the ruling class to guarantee public health safety.
“No matter the ban, some big people will still come in with their private jets and contravene all the regulations but then we cannot because of those miscreants not protect the people. We will still put a ban there and make sure that all those contravening the rules are being taken care of,” Tomori said.