The Federal Government has diclosed that the the strict travel protocols been put in place were aimed protecting Nigerians and foreigners residing in the country from being infected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It explained that though the country had been tagged as strict in terms of travel protocols, the stand of the government was to protect its people against the spread of the virus.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said that the stringent rules were considered in line with recommendations from health stakeholders and Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19.
Justifying the action while briefing journalists on Wednesday, the minister said that the country was not being tough for toughness sake but acting in accordance with what science dictates and putting the interests of Nigerians first.
According to him, this is why you will see that the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) has designated and ranked different parts of the globe where the Delta variant is prevalent or the very high risk of contracting COVID-19.
“We have labelled them restricted countries. As of today, we have only four of such; South Africa, India, Brazil and Turkey. And there are strict travel protocols around these countries because we want to prevent and protect our people.
“The first instance, nationals of these countries are not allowed into Nigeria. If you are a Brazilian and you are coming from Brazil and Indian coming from India, a South African coming from South Africa or Turkish coming from Turkey.
“It doesn’t mean a Brazilian living in London cannot come, you can come if you are coming from London. And also, not everybody coming from these countries are banned, we make exemptions; diplomats are exempted, high-level government officials, those coming to fix our infrastructure and economy are exempted by PSC.
“But no matter what category, whether a Nigerian coming from Turkey or you are exempted for whatever you are coming to do in Nigeria, you must observe the travel protocols which means you check in straight into a quarantined facility approved by the Federal Government,” he said.
Continuing, Mohammed added, “and when you are there, your health is monitored constantly. On day two of your arrival, you will do a COVID-19 test, do another one day seven; it is only after you are tested negative at day seven that you are allowed to go home and meet your relations.
“However those who are coming from non-restricted countries, also have their own protocols to observe. Day one, they must self-isolate in their respective homes and two. Day seven, they must come out and do a test before they are being discharged,” he explained.
The minister said that regrettably, many people who came in from non-restricted countries did not observe self-isolation and even when they did they thought it was an occasion to invite friends and relations.
“It is a dangerous practice. Those doing that are endangering their lives, the lives of their friends and relations. If you have taken the two doses of your AstraZeneca or new Moderna, they will not prevent you from catching COVID-19 again, the only advantage you have, if you catch it after you took the vaccine, you won’t be terribly sick, you may not even notice it, you won’t be hospitalised and you will not die of COVID-19.
“If someone comes in from a country like India for instance, even if he is vaccinated and he meets a Nigerian who has been vaccinated, that Nigerian can still catch it because you need to have vaccinated at least 70 per cent of your population.
“It is when you have vaccinated 70 per cent of your population before you can achieve what they call herd immunity. Here we are still struggling with two per cent vaccination. So that is why we put what looks like tough travel protocols around most restricted and non-restricted countries.”
Mohammed, however, noted that this list was not final and any country Nigeria noticed that COVID-19 or delta variant was becoming endemic, such a country would be added to the list because it was all about the safety of the lives of the citizens.