Ahead of the reopening of airports for the resumption of flights, the World Health Organization (WHO) has urged Nigeria and other African nations to take effective measures to mitigate the risk of a surge in coronavirus infections.
The global health body said while the opening of borders is vital for the free flow of goods and people, its initial analysis found that lockdowns along with public health measures reduced the spread of COVID-19.
It said even with border restrictions, imported cases have sometimes brought back COVID-19 to countries which had not reported cases for a length of time.
The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Mrs Matshidiso Moeti, noted that, “Air travel is vital to the economic health of countries. But as we take to the skies again, we cannot let our guard down. Our new normal still requires stringent measures to stem the spread of COVID-19.”
This is particularly key for Nigeria and other African nations who are set to restart commercial flights this month.
On Nigeria’s part, which banned international flights into the country on March 21, it noted that domestic flights between Lagos and Abuja will resume on Wednesday, July 8.
Domestic flights from Kano, Port Harcourt, Owerri, and Maiduguri airports will reopen on July 11, and all other airports in the country will resume domestic travel from July 15.
There is, however, no news on international travel, but the Minister for Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, said that the date will be decided soon.
Since its first case in late February 2020, Nigeria has confirmed over 27,000 cases of the virus in the country. For over a month, Lagos, Abuja and Ogun State were completely locked down to curb the contagion.
The strategy worked in containing the virus, but cries from citizens forced the government to ease the restrictions and since then, there has been a spike in the number of infections.