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Lai Mohammed says Nigerians in Chinese town affected by Coronavirus have not shown willingness to return home

Lai Mohammed, minister of information, says the federal government is in touch with 16 Nigerians living in Wuhan, China. 

Coronavirus disease broke out in that part of the Asian country, and it has continued to spread globally.

Speaking in Abuja on Friday, the minister said the 16 citizens have not shown interest in returning to Nigeria.

Lai added that the federal government cannot stop Nigerians from travelling to China.

The federal government had issued a travel advisory asking citizens to reconsider travelling to China.

“We know it is a bit difficult to ban people from travelling,” Lai said.

“Another thing is that this is not a basis to stigmatise people who come from there.

“Even if we have Nigerians who are there, unless they indicate interest that they want to come home, we can’t force them.

“I know we have Nigerians in Wuhan; our Embassy in China has confirmed that we have about 16 Nigerians in Wuhan and they are in touch with them.

“They have, however, not indicated their interest to come home. They will, however, contact our embassy if they like to come home.

“We need a lot of public enlightenment. We need to let people who travel know that there is the need for absolute transparency and absolute honesty when they are filling out forms.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a global emergency on coronavirus, and the death toll has risen to 213 with more than 9,709 cases confirmed in mainland China.

The Federal Government says it has strengthened its preparedness and action plan in collaboration with relevant stakeholders to stop the importation of coronavirus into the country. 

Dr. Osagie Ehanire, the Minister of Health,  said this at Coronavirus Inter-ministerial Preparedness and Response Meeting with relevant key Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on Friday in Abuja.

Ehanire said the meeting became important because the World Health Organisation (WHO) had declared coronavirus as a global health emergency. The minister said as part of the initial response, the ministry had been working with port authorities to prevent the importation of the virus at the port of entries.

“We must assure Nigerians of our capacity to detect and respond to this emergency and other public health threats; our surveillance at the point of entries involve temperature detectors with scanners and visual observation of passengers,’’ the minister said.

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