Nigeria has no immediate plans to impose travel restrictions on any country, passport or flights, health minister, Osagie Ehanire, has said.
Mr Ehanire told journalists in Abuja on Friday that Nigeria has seen no need to impose such restrictions because transmission risk to the country is not yet high.
Mr Ehanire said though the risk of transmission is higher among air travellers, transmission from land borders cannot be ruled out as well.
“We are working in partnership with the Port Health Services,” to “prioritise measures for the containment of COVID-19, especially the screening of passengers at points of entry.”
Mr Ehanire said the ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, organised a meeting with members of the diplomatic corps in Nigeria where they asked for their solidarity in containing the disease.
He said it is expected that citizens from countries with the outbreak inbound Nigeria should screen their citizens before allowing them to travel out of the country.
“We had a meeting with the Ambassadors and High Commissioners,” and “called for solidarity and cooperation in responding to this pandemic, especially to urge their governments to introduce tighten(ed) health screening at their points of departure, so as to reduce (the) risk of virus exportation to other countries.
The World Health Organisation on Wednesday declared the ongoing coronavirus a pandemic and tasked countries to improve surveillance and preparation for the prevention of the disease.
Mr Ehanire said while the government is monitoring the outbreak on the international scene, it has seen no reason for issuing travel restrictions on any nation.
Other countries have been placing travel restrictions. The U.S., for instance, placed travel restrictions on 26 countries in Europe.
Europe has become a thriving spot for the disease, raising alarms on public health.
As of Thursday evening, almost 125,000 cases have now been reported to the WHO, from 118 countries and territories.
These cases have been increasing erratically in the past two weeks.
However, Mr Ehanire said the government would employ the measures when appropriate.
He insisted that the government is not prioritising the economic gain over the health of his people.
He said Nigerians should delay travelling to countries with high burden of the virus, except it is of high importance.
“We don’t go after a fly with a sledge hammer. We are operating with a tailored approach that is suitable with the situation on ground in Nigeria. We don’t want to put restrictions where they are not helpful and we are monitoring the situation closely. When there is any change, we will do the needful.
“Our situation is different from what is obtainable in China or USA or Italy, and as such, we cannot employ the same approach. Every response to the outbreak is country-tailored,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Ehanire added that there has been no new confirmed case of COVID-19 in the country.
He said the country has reported only two cases of COVID-19.
The first was the index case, the Italian who had imported the disease into the country and the second, one of the persons who had been in contact with the index case.
The index case was reported on February 27 in an Italian businessman who had flown into the country from Milan on February 25, for business.
The second case is one of the persons who had contact with the Italian.
He, however, said the local case has now tested negative.
He said the local contact case was positive in test but was asymptomatic and never fell ill. He has now tested negative of the virus and might soon be released to go back to the community.
“As at today, March 13, Nigeria has recorded just two confirmed cases of COVID-19. One case is now negative and will be discharged from care, while the other will follow in a few days.
“After 14 days of follow up with no symptoms, all contacts of the index case will be permitted to go home and re-join (the) society,” Mr Ehanire said.