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Health News of Sunday, 31 October 2021

Source: www.punchng.com

Coronavirus: Travel policy not aimed at frustrating Nigerian travellers, says Tomori

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A Professor of Virology and former Vice-Chancellor of the Redeemer’s University, Ede, Oyewale Tomori, says the measures put in place for inbound travellers, including Nigerians returning to the country, are not aimed at frustrating them but to curtail the spread of Coronavirus

Prof. Tomori said every country has a travel policy and one mustkeepabreast of the rules of the destination country.

Tomori was reacting to the claim of the Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, that he was prevented from boarding at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France, for failing to obtain what the airline staff described as a “permit to travel” to Nigeria.

Speaking on the theme, “COVID, technology and citizen banishment,” during an interaction with journalists in Lagos, Prof. Soyinka had said that although no attempt was made to banish him, he nevertheless felt like serving a decree of banishment for the 48 hours that the event lasted.

Every inbound traveller is expected to upload their Coronavirus result on a portal created by the Federal Government, with the traveller’s details – including passport and ticket numbers. At the end of the exercise, a barcode is generated, indicating a permit to travel.

Soyinka, however, said, “Of course, there is something known as force majeure that means you cannot help it. If there are floods, or there is turbulence and your plane cannot land and it is turned somewhere else – yes, we understand that.”

He added that when an individual “is prevented from entering his own country through the lapses of others, then there is a problem.”

Speaking further, the essayist said he didn’t believe that other nationals were obstructed from entering their countries the way Nigeria did for its citizens.

He added, “This is a plea to the Ministry of Health, Internal Affairs, which I am convinced must have participated in this form, to find out what is going on and why one should be subjected to this ordeal. Let us go out through the front door and come back through the front door, as it is befitting to all normal citizens.

“Stop treating Nigerians like criminals and illegal immigrants who end up sleeping on couches or on the floor of the airport.”

However, Tomori said the Coronavirus protocols for inbound travellers are not to prevent people from coming into the country but to curtail the spread of the viral infection.

“I know it’s not only in Nigeria that measures are taken to prevent people from coming into the country because of Coronavirus.They are not saying people should not come into the country; they are only saying you should fill the information in the system.

“But, if there are frauds in the system, that is what we should fix; but nobody is banning anybody from coming into the country. What we should look into is to see if there are any problems but we should not translate that to being banished from the country,” he said.

The virologist said the problem travellers may experience may be a technical glitch that can be resolved.

“Sometimes, we need to address it and not be dramatic about it. Yes, it could be very frustrating to get access because of the hassles but I need to do it myself to see if there is any problem and if there is any, we need to address it, rather than turn it into being banished from the country.

“Every country has a system for people coming into the country, not just Nigeria. I have not tried it myself because I haven’t travelled but if I try it and I see there is any problem, then we should repair it. It could be a technical thing but the problem is, if there is a fraud with it, then we should address it,” Tomori said.