Coronavirus: Senate seeks flight ban on Ethiopian airline

The Senate on Friday urged the Federal Government to place a temporary flight ban on the Ethiopian airline to curb further spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19) to Nigeria.

This call, according to the Chairman Senate Committee on Primary Healthcare and Communicable diseases, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, has become necessary since the airlines operates flights between China and Nigeria for up to 35 times every week.

Utazi’s reaction was contained in a statement in Abuja following a confirmed case of the Coronavirus disease infection in Lagos.

He also urged the government to immediately constitute a “Health War Room” to coordinate screening at all entry points into the country.

He urged Nigerians not to panic following the disease outbreak in Lagos but rather should take preventive measures.

He argued that if American can place a flight ban on flights from China, Nigeria ought to do same with airlines to transverse between Nigeria and China on a daily basis.

Utazi said: “My reaction following the press release of the confirmed case of Coronavirus infected patient in Lagos State of an Italian National, by the Hon Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire is that our citizens should instead of panic, should rather be conscious and observe all the safety and precautionary measures issued by the Ministry of Health in order to avoid contracting the ailment, as prevention is better than cure.

“I enjoin citizens to be confident of the Federal Government’s capacity and readiness to contain any spread of the disease through the Ministry of Health’s National Centre for Disease Control.

“On the same breath, I implore the Federal Ministry of Health, as a matter of urgency, to put up a ‘Health War Room’ with trained health personnel that will coordinate and man all the entry points into the country, with a view to screening on board, all passengers even before permitting them to disembark from any of their chosen means of transportation.

“In addition, isolation and quarantine facilities must of necessity be in place in case of emergency.

“I urge the Presidency to kindly direct the Minister for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, to issue a temporary ban on the Ethiopian Airlines flights to and from China, estimated to be 35 times every week, till further notice.

“This is in recognition of the fact that China remains the main source of Coronavirus infection and spread.

“Love of country and National interest should be uppermost in our minds, and should be above any fiduciary consideration at this point in time.

“If developed countries with better and far advanced technology/response mechanisms to handle this epidemic have placed flight ban on China, I wonder what Nigeria is still waiting to do the needful.

“Time is of the essence and the health of Nigerians should come first before any other political and economic considerations. I trust the Presidency to be on the side of Nigerians.”

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