Nearly three months after coronavirus (COVID-19) was first detected in Wuhan, China, the virus has spread into over 100 countries around the world.
Over 180,000 infections and at least 7,000 deaths have been recorded worldwide, causing a global panic that has disrupted the world’s economy.
To contain the spread, many countries have either issued lock-down orders of their territories or banned flights from countries that have been hardest-hit by the pandemic.
Countries like the United States, Turkey, South Africa, Uganda, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Gabon, Burundi, and many others have all imposed travel restrictions.
This has led to increased pressure on the Nigerian government to impose a similar restriction even though the country currently has two confirmed cases of coronavirus. Another person that previously tested positive later tested negative and was discharged last week.
The Federal Government has announced that it currently has no plans to issue restrictions because there is no need.
For PulseVoices, we spoke to a few notable Nigerians for their opinion on the government's position. Here’s what they have to say:
Rosemary Enemuo - Research And Development Associate at SBM Intelligence
The country has recorded a low number of coronavirus cases. As the global reaction to the pandemic continues to grow, it is clear that the virus outbreak - which has precipitated lockdowns of entire regions in places like China, Iran and Italy - is having much more of an economic impact.
For example, the number of visa-on-arrival issuance at Lagos’ Murtala Muhammad International Airport has dropped by 39.8% in one month since the onset of the outbreak.
While there are clear economic consequences to shutting down much of the air traffic coming into the country, it is uncertain that we are capable of handling a spike in cases of the coronavirus, especially since the countries ‘investors’ come from the most - the U.S., China, and the U.K. are dealing with mounting coronavirus cases.
Therefore, it is necessary to control the inflow of passenger traffic into the country. Besides the aviation industry in Nigeria as at 2019 contributed 0.14% to Nigeria's GDP, a relatively 'insignificant' economic contributor.
Countries like Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Morocco, and Namibia have placed bans on flights from countries hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak; one would still wonder why the government has been quiet on doing the needful.
The global economy is currently down with crude oil prices below $30 dollars per barrel, investors are currently letting go of shares in major companies, so investors and investments are the least reasons to keep the borders open at this time.
Although the NCDC is doing an excellent job at keeping an eye on the situation, the same cannot be said of state hospitals and local healthcare centers that are not equipped with the necessary facilities to manage any possible outbreak of the coronavirus.
European countries, as well as Asian countries where the virus is most rampant, have restricted movement in order to prevent the continuous spread of the virus.
In my opinion, the government is treading the risky path, leaving a country with a poor healthcare system alongside a weak economy (which investors are already fleeing from), open to the possibility of more infections coming from the outside. A flight ban is a step in the right path."
Adedamola Idowu - Managing Partner at irinajo Travel and Tours Ltd
While Nigeria has taken steps to contain the situations reported so far, it is surprising to learn that our borders are still open to anybody and everybody.
Many African countries including Djibouti who are yet to record a single case have suspended international flights to their countries towing the path of prevention.
Nigeria's level of preparedness is commendable, however, the country must not take chances so that capacity isn't over stretched should more cases be discovered.
Sadly, not everyone carrying the virus immediately show symptoms at the initial stage.
If and when a carrier is screened without any symptoms, cleared and released at our port of entry, the risk of people getting infected becomes higher.
Nigeria should as a matter of urgency tow the path of prevention and close her borders to people who are coming from countries that have recorded a high number of the corona virus cases before it becomes a complex situation.
Dipo Awojide - Senior Lecturer in Strategy, Nottingham Business School
Based on what we have been told, it can be argued that the Nigerian Government has tried so far in managing this very unfortunate situation.
Having noted this, it would be great to now ban flights into Nigeria from certain countries.
My hope is that coronavirus would not be imported into Nigeria again; and become as bad as what is going on in the South Korea, Iran, UK, France, Spain and Italy.
But being hopeful is not enough. Hope is not a strategy. We don’t want to lose Nigerian lives to coronavirus, and we can prevent deaths if the government bans flights from certain countries in the next few days.
We should ban flights into Nigeria from certain countries but let Nigerian citizens in within a time frame.
Those who come in should be quarantined and made to follow stated standard procedure - which are best global practice. This has been done by several other countries.
And Nigeria needs to urgently consider doing this as a preventive measure.
Pulse voices is a series that captures public opinions on topical issues such as government policies and matters of national or global interest.
Because all voices matter and all opinions count in telling a complete story, this series will always strive to engage and inform but most importantly, amplify our voices where it matters most.