The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) has issued fresh conditions for the evacuation exercise of Nigerians stranded in the United Kingdom arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 1,000 Nigerians in the UK are said to have applied to NIDCOM for evacuation to their fatherland.
In an electronic mail sent to applicants, a copy of which was received by The Nation, the Commission listed proof of a COVID-19 test as a key requirement for intending returnees.
This is aside the initial condition that intending returnees will have to pay for the cost of their flight from the UK to Nigeria.
The statement, signed by Inyang E. Inyang, reads: “We have received your application for evacuation from the UK during the COVID-19 period. A major condition for your return will be to have done the COVID-19 test in the UK. You will not be allowed to board without having taken the test. The test is for patients (people)16 years and older. We look forward to bringing you back home.”
NIDCO, according to the statement, explained that while it understands that it may be difficult for some intending returnees to have the test done through the UK NHS as some may not meet the NHS conditions, it however advised that Nigerians in the UK interested in having a private COVID-19 laboratory test within the United Kingdom may consider using private laboratories approved for such test by the UK government.
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NIDCO advised that one of such facilities can be reached via COVID19@mobihealthinternational.com or contact Dr Funmi Adewara on +447753656688.
“This is a Public Health England-approved COVID-19 testing centre. Laboratory results are said to be within 3-5 working days. So, you are free to make your options and decisions,” the statement said.
Upon the receipt of the test result, individuals are advised to contact NIDCO for further briefing on the evacuation exercise.
A cross section of intending returnees who spoke with The Nation hailed the initiative of the federal government.
Although they pleaded to remain anonymous for fear of being stigmatised upon arrival in Nigeria, they however advised the Commission to upon arrival in the country, conduct another screening at the point of entry.
“Those without any symptom should be made to go on self isolation while those with symptoms should be quarantined by government. Taking all returnees to quarantine centres irrespective of their COVID-19 status will be expensive for government, deprive those that may really need bed spaces in the quarantine centres of space and at the same time may expose those that may not have contracted the virus earlier to risk of contracting same,” said an intending returnee who pleaded to remain anonymous for fear of stigmatisation back home,” one of them said.
He added that details of those on self isolation, like their passport data page, home address, place of self isolation, among others, should be obtained at the point of entry into the country for effective monitoring by the authorities.
Yet, the source further suggested that a pass should be issued to individuals upon arrival to enable them proceed to their various self isolation places without harassment by security personnel in the country owing to the present lockdown and sit at home order of government.