The House of Representatives, on Tuesday, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately halt all in-bound flights from high-risk countries especially the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, the USA, China and South Korea except for Nigerian citizens, who will be tested on arrival and may be quarantined if necessary.
The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion on ‘Urgent need for Federal Government to postpone the forthcoming National Sports Festival in Edo State and other large gatherings’, sponsored by Hon Onofiok Luke.
The House of Reps resolution of the House of Reps coincides with the confirmation of the third case of Coronavirus index by the Lagos State Ministry of Health, few hours ago.
In his lead debate, Hon Luke, who acknowledged the importance of sports in national development, harmony and unity, called for proactive steps toward curtailing the spread of the pandemic.
“The House understands the numerous ways in which sport serves as platforms for identifying new talents, building sports infrastructure, promoting friendships and preparing athletes for international competitions.
“The House of Reps recognises the fact that the National Sports Festival is hosted by States and involves the participation of all states of the federation as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and this year, it is being hosted by Edo State.
“The House appreciates that the Edo State government has spent substantial public funds on publicity, rehabilitation and upgrading of sporting facilities and already set to welcome other athletes.
“The House further appreciates the seriousness of the current global epidemic, coronavirus, which the World Health Organisation has branded a Global epidemic that has so far affected almost 200,000 persons worldwide and killed over 7,000 in over 60 nations. In the United States, only the State of West Virginia is yet to report a case of Coronavirus.
“The House notes the very far-reaching efforts of governments all over the world including nations such as Ghana and South Africa where gatherings of more than 50 persons have been prohibited, social distancing of at least 3 feet apart is encouraged, widespread use of sanitizers recommended, and citizens encouraged to stay indoors with some cities and nations on total lockdown (save for strategic and essential movements) – in fact, workers are encouraged to work from home while students are encouraged to study online.
“The House recognises that virtually all sporting activities in the world such as the ATP (Tennis), Judo (International Judo Federation), London Marathon, NBA, EFL, Formula 1, The US Masters, Kentucky Derby, Boxing, FA Women’s Championships, FA Women’s Super League, UEFA, LaLiga, World Cup Qualifiers, Darts (The Professional Darts Corporation), and Cricket- have been cancelled or postponed due to precautions about the spread of the coronavirus, including indoor games, with schools from pre-kindergarten through universities and research centres shut down.
“The House further appreciates the fact that Nigeria has been fortunate to have only one index case that is said to be recovering, and given that our borders are porous and no one can predict the transboundary movement of persons in absolute terms.
“The House draws attention to the already established fact that without effective social distancing and drastic steps to avoid contacts this epidemic could be easily transmitted and the Sports Festival would bring together thousands of young healthy Nigerians from all the States and the FCT which will mingle and inter-mingle and go back to their states to further mingle with friends, family colleagues and community with the attendant implications,” he warned.
To this end, the House of Reps urged Federal Government, the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, in line with global best practice, to immediately postpone the National Sports Festival scheduled for Edo State and other activities with a large gathering in the interest of the nation’s health and well-being till further notice.
The lawmakers also tasked the Federal Ministry of Health to continue to work with Federal and State medical establishments to update and upgrade facilities and prepare for eventualities.