By KAYODE OYERO
US Embassy and Consulate in Nigeria says it is preparing emergency flights to evacuate its citizens in Nigeria despite airport closures, The PUNCH reports.
This is not unconnected with the exploding coronavirus cases in Nigeria which stand at 89 on Saturday evening according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
The Federal Government through the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority had closed all international airports in the country including the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport Abuja to prevent further importation of COVID-19.
But the Consulate on Friday, in a notice entitled ‘Health Alert: US Mission in Nigeria’ sighted by The PUNCH, advised American citizens to be in Abuja and Lagos “as soon as possible” to join the arranged flights back to the US.
It also advised nationals not in Abuja and Lagos to work with local airlines to make travel arrangements while flights are still available.
It stated, “at present, there are no scheduled flights to the United States.
“However, we are actively exploring options and attempting to secure flights despite global airport closures and travel restrictions.
“We will email US citizens immediately once we have flight details, routes, and costs.
“US citizens who are considering returning to the United States are urged to travel to Abuja or Lagos as soon as possible.
“The Embassy and Consulate are unable to assist with lodging, food, or transportation costs, and some hotels have closed or are closing.
“To disseminate important information and alerts for US Citizens including possible evacuation flights, the State Department uses the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program as its primary messaging system. US Citizens in Nigeria who want to be informed about emergency flights and receive other alerts should enroll in STEP immediately.”
As of Saturday morning, according to World Health Organisation statistics, the US has 68,334 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 991 attendant deaths.
Troubled by the figures, President Donald Trump on Friday had ordered General Motors, Ford amongst other production giants to start the mass production of ventilators.