The Nigerian government has banned its political appointees and civil servants from undertaking foreign trips because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, announced the measure on Tuesday night after the inaugural meeting of the Presidential Task Force on coronavirus.
However, the ban affects only 13 countries, where the virus is endemic.
The countries are China, Iran, South Korea, Germany, Italy, USA, UK, Switzerland, Norway, Netherlands, Spain, France and Japan.
Mustapha said the committee after its meeting concluded that all officials in the Ministries, Department and Agencies, including parastatals to stop all forms of travels out of the country for whatever reasons.
“We have decided to advise that all officials in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies including parastals, that government has ban all forms of travels out of the country for whatever reasons.
“Whether for meetings, bilateral, multilateral, conferences, seminars, workshops and any form of other ceremonies.
“And this ban will remain in place until further notice and until the situation of pandemic nature of the COVID-19 stops.
“By this notice, any prior approval to travel abroad on official assignment during this period is accordingly rescinded”, he said.
According to him, the committee has decided to urge the Federal Government to scale up the nation’s health emergency system to the highest level and put in measures to curb further spread of the disease.
The committee headed by the SGF also advised the citizens strongly in their own interest to cancel or postpone all non-essential travel abroad including business and vacation trips.
“This is especially so, especially when it comes to the countries known to be seriously affected by the COVID-19.
“Secondly, we urge anyone returning to Nigeria from any country to strictly self isolate for 14 days.
“And that all people returning from countries with high community transmission rate, especially countries that have recorded a thousand cumulative cases and above would be actively isolated for 14 days by the health authorities,” he said.
The nation’s chief scribe said that the Nigerian government was also in support of measures taken by the government of other countries, particularly high burden countries who have urged their citizens to stay home and avoid non-essential travels.
President Buhari last week set up the 14-man presidential task force to monitor the development of COVID-19 pandemic disease across the country and around the world.
Inaugurating the committee, Mr Mustapha said the composition of the task force would enable Nigeria in its multi-sectoral and intergovernmental approach to the national response.
Mustapha said the committee has six months to deliberate on the six terms of references given to it.
Among the six-point terms are strengthening the national response strategy, particularly in the areas of testing, containment and management of COVID-19, strengthen collaboration with all tiers of Government, private sector, Faith-Based Organisations, civil societies, donors and partners.
Mustapha announced the appointment of a national co-ordinator for the committee. He is Dr. Sani Aliyu, who was appointed by President Buhari.
Aliyu will manage the daily activities of the committee, in collaboration with existing institutions and structures, Mustapha said.
“The national coordinator will be responsible for cohesion and efficiency in the roles played by the different agencies, operating in the treatment of the national response strategy, ” he said.
Members of the task force committee, apart from the chairman, Boss Mustapha are Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Interior, Mr Hadi Sirika, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Services.
Others are, Mr Adamu Adamu, Minister of Education, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Adeleke Mamora, Minister of State, Health, Alhaji Sulaiman Adamu, Minister of Environment.
The other members are Mr Yusuf Bichi, Director-General, Department of State Services, Mr Chikwe Thekweazu, Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr Wondimagegnehu Alemu.
Mustapha assured of the President’s commitment to supporting the committee in ensuring safety and wellbeing of all Nigerians.