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FG to begin airlift of stranded Nigerians next week

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FOREIGN Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama has declared that over 2000 Nigerians stranded in abroad will be airlifting by next week.

Onyeama who made this declaration at the daily briefing by the President Task Force on COVID-19 Control in Abuja noted that those Nigerians stranded who indicated interest to return were based in different parts of the world.

  He highlighted that the returnees would be emanating from 75 countries as recorded in a document made available by the nation.

  They include: United Kingdom (466); United Arab Emirates (253); China (229); U.S.(163); Turkey (160); Egypt (115); India (92); Malaysia (84); Cyprus (72); Indonesia (35); and Cameroon (20);

  Others arem: Germany (10); Italy (eight); Australia (six); France (three); Jordan (13); Ghana (32); Ukraine (15); Saudi Arabia (35); South Africa (39); Sudan (18); Pakistan (14); Oman (five); Philippines (three); Poland (three) as well as Qatar (four), among others.

   The Minister revealed that the federal government has approved their airlifting to Nigeria by Monday due to the lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

  Speaking on the evacuation process, Onyeama stated that the stranded persons would be returning in batches of 200 and would be placed on seclusion for two weeks in the isolation centres already prepared for them. 

  He disclosed that why they would be returning in batches is because of insufficient beds at the isolation centres.

In his words,” we have just signed and agreed with two airlines. We negotiated what we feel is very good rates. Since the evacuees are expected to pay, we wanted to get as good a deal as possible. Now, that’s done. The next challenge is accommodation. Everything has to be absolutely ready. We are actually determined when we start that everything should go very smoothly and so, we really want to take all the necessary steps to ensure that would be the case”.

  Onyeama used the opportunity to say that adequate arrangements have been made for the evacuation and quarantine of the returnees.

According to him, “We are looking at 200 evacuees we can accommodate at a time. Since they are going to be there for two weeks, it means we have to bring 200 back for a period of 14 days before we can bring in another 200 both in Abuja and Lagos. We also have to look at the cities. The most important part at this stage is to secure the planes to bring them back and we have now done that. So, hopefully, if we can tie up the other loose ends, we hope to start maybe towards the end of next week.

  “We have to put all the precautions we can to minimise that kind of incident, having mechanisms to see what kind of symptoms that are displayed by the intending passengers. We’ll now choose which countries we want to start with”, he concluded.

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