Senate President Lawan

The senate has asked the federal government to consider banning non-Nigerian travellers from countries with high risk of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The upper legislative chamber made the request after adopting a point of order raised at Tuesday’s plenary session by Ibrahim Oloriegbe, its health committee chairman.

Nigeria recorded its third case of the coronavirus infection on Tuesday — all linked to Italy and UK, which are among high-risk countries.

Before the third case was announced, the federal government had said it was not considering a travel ban on countries with active spread of the virus.

Oloriegbe, however, said in addition to the ban, other prevention and control practices, Nigeria should as well restrict travels to worst-hit countries to curb the spread of the virus.

“If it is possible, people should not travel to countries with high risk of the cases especially in Europe where many countries are affected, unless such trips are very important,” he said.

“Government should also consider disallowing non-Nigerians from countries of high risk from entering the country. Government should also increase capacity about checking airports.”

He said Nigeria currently has only five centres where testing can be done, and that “government has to step up the testing capacity, and provide support for state governments”.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan agreed with his submission, and added that emphasis should be placed on the isolation and testing centres.

“We are very lucky and fortunate, but we shouldn’t push our luck too far. We should be very observant of all those regulations the technical experts give us,” he said.

“There is need for federal government to do a little more, especially in the area of testing centres. The entire north and south-east have no testing centres and it shouldn’t be so.

“Also, for the isolation centres the state governments are building, the ministry of health should come out with a standard which will be replicated in all the states.

“So we need to through our committees, ensure we work with the ministry of health to work with the states to ensure the isolation centres are standardised.”