STRANDED Nigerians who test positive to COVID-19 will not be airlifted home, the Federal Government has said.
According to a new protocol on airlifting home of Nigerians, those wishing to return must undergo Coronavirus test and test negative before being allowed to return.
Those who test positive will not be allowed onboard the plane, the government added.
To perfect the implementation of the new rule, airlifting of more Nigerians home has been suspended, according to Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffery Onyeama.
Those who are brought back will no longer be compelled to go into government-monitored and sponsored 14-day isolation.
They will have the benefit of going home straight on arrival.
Before this latest development, Nigeria had evacuated 989. They are from United Arab Emirate (265), United Kingdom (253), United States (160), Saudi Arabia (292) and Lebanon (19).
The minister said the airlifting was suspended to give room for new measures that would require citizens returning from overseas to get tested and self-isolate at home rather than in selected hotels.
“There is going to be a change in that protocol and that is going to affect the timing of any further evacuation we are going to undertake.”
“Anybody that is going to be evacuated will first of all undergo a test from the countries they are leaving from, at least, five days before travel and not later than nine days before.
“That will be a pre-condition for boarding the flights to Nigeria. And if they are positive, they will not be able to board the flight.
“On arrival in Nigeria, Aliko Dangote and his other partners will have in place these units where they will take samples from the passengers coming in and they will retain their passports.
“The passengers will then be able to go home and not into prescribed hotels to self-isolate. Results from those samples will then, be ready within a day or two; those who are positive will then be taking in for isolation.
“The whole issue of quarantining in hotels will no longer be necessary. This can also mean more people can also come back more frequently, and it will be a lot easier than it has been up to now.
“What we have been asked to do is to cease or suspend all evacuations for now until this new structure is put into place. We are very hopeful that, maybe, by next week, we should be able to commence evacuation.”
He added that the Federal Government has also evacuated some Nigerian girls that were trafficked to Lebanon with the help of the Lebanese government and community in Nigeria who paid for their flight.
“We are able to evacuate 69 Nigerians, 50 trafficked Nigerian girls from Lebanon and 19 other Nigerians, and they all arrived safely and are in quarantine,” he said, while thanking Lebanese community in Nigeria who “funded the cost of flight and hotel accommodation for the trafficked girls.”