Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, has justified the demand for payment for feeding and accommodation at isolation centres from prospective evacuees before they could be qualified for flights that would bring them to Nigeria.
A memo addressed to prospective evacuees “Need to pay for Quarantine, Isolation, accommodation centre or hotels before Departure and Arrival in Nigeria,” dated May 14, 2020 asked them to pay the total sum of N297,600 before they could be airlifted.
The memo gave the breakdown of the cost as N240,000 and N57,000 for accommodation and feeding respectively for the 14-day mandatory isolation as prescribed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
Speaking on Friday at the weekly briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Onyeama said his ministry seized the initiative to compel stranded Nigerians to pay the sum because of lack of fund to take care of them at isolation centres back home.
He said the medical infrastructure in the country were already overstretched considering the sum being spent on COVID-19 tests.
“There has been quite a lot in social media especially after the recent directives that we communicated to our missions indicating a certain amount of money that anybody who wanted to be evacuated back to the country needed to pay and it wasn’t just for their air ticket but also their accommodation for two weeks and two days and the cost of feeding.
“Now this isn’t by any stretch of imagination something that the government is happy to do. As I mentioned, if the resources were there, we will evacuate everybody and if our medical infrastructure were solid and our case was much lower, we could look at other ways of revisiting our protocol.
“But the way things are, at the moment, the fragility of our health infrastructure, the trajectory of the increasing number of positive tests being what they are, we have to take the greatest care with regard to the protocol we adopt with people coming home.
“So, it has been decided after long discussion and evaluation by the best medical minds we have that it is best for us for the interest of the country that there should be a period of quarantine when any of our evacuees comes home.
“There is a lot of uproar as a result of the cost we prepared for those willing to come back but as I said, the resources aren’t there. But we are still looking for resources all over the place but knowing that time is of the essence for the people, they have to come back.”
The Foreign Affairs Minister said every reasonable options were considered to save cost, including the use of NYSC camps as isolation centres but he revealed that the medical team in the PTF kicked against it.
YOU SHOULD NOT MISS THESE HEADLINES FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE
COVID-19: We Don’t Know Whereabouts Of Chinese Doctors ― PTF • Don’t ask me where they are ― Health Minister
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, on Thursday, said that it is not aware of the whereabouts of the Chinese doctors and health professionals who were brought to Nigeria some weeks ago to help the country in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic… Read full story
Amid Uproar, Lagos Backtracks, Says Dubai Returnee Didn’t Die Of COVID-19
Lagos State government on Thursday night retracted its earlier claim that one of the returnees from Dubai, died of COVID-19. Other returnees, quarantined at an isolation centre in Lekki, had protested in a viral video clip, disproving the earlier official position… Read full story
No Conclusion Yet On ‘Strange’ Deaths In Kano
The Federal Government says there are no conclusions yet with regard to ‘strange’ deaths in Kano State. The Minister for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19… Read full story
FG To Present Revised 2020 Budget Next Week •As Reps uncover documents on illegal virement of MDAs funds to finance COVID-19
Barring last minutes changes, the Federal Government (FG) is expected to formally present the revised 2020 Appropriation bill of N10.58 trillion to the National Assembly. The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, who disclosed this during high-level meeting held behind closed… Read full story
COVID-19: PTF Warns Against Using Bleach, Ethanol As Cure
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, on Thursday, warned Nigerians against the use of bleach or ethanol as cure for COVID-19, saying that its usage can result in death. Besides, the PTF also cautioned Nigerians to stop the stigmatisation of people with COVID-19 infection once they recover from it… Read full story
COVID-19 Care Now Available For All Who Need It ― PTF
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday assured that Nigeria’s testing strategy is yielding results, asserting that the country can now give care to any patient who needs it. Chairman of the task force and Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha… Read full story