COVID-19: Returnees from abroad are to pay for 14 days isolation in hotels – Foreign Minister

Nigerians who are stranded in other countries will be made to pay as much as N20,000 per night to stay in hotels for 14 days as part of the guidelines by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Godfrey Onyeama, has said.

The minister stated this while briefing the House on status of Nigerians who are stranded abroad as a result of travel ban due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.

Onyeama appeared alongside other members of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID19 on Tuesday.

He disclosed that Nigerians who will be returning from the United Arab Emirate on Wednesday will pay N20,000 per night for those that will stay in Lagos, while those in Abuja will pay N15,000 per night for 14 days.

The minister added that there is an ongoing conversation with the National Emergency Management Agencies to subsidize the rate for the returnees.

“The first batch will come in tomorrow from UAE, the challenge has been enormous in trying to arrange for the evacuee to come into the country.

“The first challenge was accommodating them for the 14 days of quarantine. We have problem with accommodating them in Abuja, initially, the hotels were not that keen in accommodating them, in fact, they did not want anything to do with this COVID19. But with time and greater sensitization, they are more willing to accept them now.

“Our plan all along was to take some to Lagos and to take some to Abuja, but we had more difficulties to get accommodation in Lagos, the Governor of Lagos (Babajide Sanwolu) as I have said in many fora has been fantastic, in assistance, he has been up and doing. He has been able to help us to get more rooms in Lagos.

“Tomorrow we hope to get 265 Nigerians coming in, and they will be at the Orchid Hotel in Lekki and also the Swizz international in Ikeja. One of the challenges is that a lot of these compatriots have stayed longer than envisaged in these countries; unfortunately, they had to pay for hotels and things they never budgeted for. We are struggling and still struggling. Ordinary it is an emergency and the government should have funded this emergency. But in this case, in this situation, we have to ask them to fund their own ticket, those who want to come back, what we are now doing is that together with NEMA, whose constitutional duty it is to assist Nigerians in an emergency situation and they are receiving funding for that, we are working out modalities to at least subsidize the returnees, at least their accommodation.

“They are to isolate for 14 days in hotels, we try to negotiate with these hotels as best as we can, we have arrived at a figure of N20,000 for the Lagos ones, N15,000 for the Abuja hotels, we are trying to see how we can support them.”

He also disclosed that Nigeria was in negotiation with the British government to take advantage of an empty British Airline coming in to evacuate British nationals in Nigeria.

“On Friday, the British had an agreement with British Airway to evacuate their nationals here in Nigeria, coming with an empty plane. We have asked them to help us with our Nigerian Nationals in the UK, to board that empty plane and come here.

“We have a deal with them, we are going to pay half of the cost. The most important aspect is that we are going to be accommodating them

“On Friday, those coming in will be going to Lagos, but we are looking at moving them to Abuja, because there are no enough rooms in Lagos, so those on the British Airway will be coming to Abuja and will be staying at the Barcelona Hotel, at the 300 rooms Barcelona Hotel here. We have made arrangement for transportation to their hotels. The hotels have been looked at by the Centre for Disease Control and approved. And they will be monitored by the NCDC. We are making arrangements for security to be stationed at the hotel.”

The Minister also revealed that there are over 4,000 Nigerians that are stranded in different countries, but Nigeria has limited capacity in airlifting them.