Nigerian minister of foreign affairs Geoffrey Onyeama
PRETORIA – Saudi Arabia plans to repatriate over 11,000 Nigerians stranded in the country after it imposed travel restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak, Premium Times reported.
The Nigerian online publication said the list includes Nigerians who had visited Saudi Arabia for the Umrah Islamic pilgrimage and were held up by the travel ban.
It cited Nigerian foreign affairs minister Geoffrey Onyeama as saying logistics challenges had caused a delay in the repatriation.
Onyeama said some of the stranded Nigerians would have landed home about a week ago, but the West African country did not have enough facilities to accommodate them all for the required 14-day quarantine.
“We have a capacity we can absorb. The medical people have to monitor them for two weeks for quarantine. But there is only a certain number of port health authority staff who are able to monitor all these people as they come in,” he said.
“We have to finish the ones we have, then allow some more to come in. We can’t allow everybody to come in because we don’t have the capacity to house them and also to monitor them medically.”
On Tuesday, The Nation reported that the government had cancelled the planned evacuation of 200 Nigerians from Canada for similar reasons.
Since last week, 678 Nigerians returning from the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdoms and the United States have been placed in isolation centres.
As of Friday, Nigeria had 5,162 confirmed Covid-19 cases, out of which 167 people had died.
African News Agency