The Federal Government says its strict travel protocols are put in place to protect its citizens from being infected by COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, made this known while speaking with the newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday.

Mr Mohammed said Nigeria had been tagged as a very strict country in terms of travel protocols, explaining that the stand of the government was to protect its people against the spread of the virus.

“We have been accused that our rules are being stringent. We say no. We are not being tough for toughness sake. We are being tough because that is what science demands. We are tough because we want to protect our people.

“This is why you will see that the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) has designated and ranked different parts of the globe where the Delta variant is prevalent or the very high risk of contracting COVID-19.

“We have labeled them restricted countries. As of today we have only four of such; South Africa, India, Brazil and Turkey. And there are strict travel protocols around these countries because we want to prevent and protect our people.

“The first instance, nationals of these countries are not allowed into Nigeria. If you are a Brazilian and you are coming from Brazil and Indian coming from India, a South African coming from South Africa or Turkish coming from Turkey.

“It doesn’t mean a Brazilian living in London cannot come, you can come if you are coming from London. And also, not everybody coming from these countries are banned, we make exemptions; diplomats are exempted, high level government officials, those coming to fix our infrastructure and economy are exempted by PSC.

“But no matter what category whether a Nigerian coming from Turkey or you are exempted for whatever you are coming to do in Nigeria but you must observe the travel protocols which means you check in straight into a quarantined facility approved by the Federal Government.

“And when you are there, your health is monitored constantly, day two of your arrival, you will do a COVID-19 test, do another one day seven, it is only after you are tested negative at day seven that you are allowed to go home and meet your relations.

“However those who are coming from non-restricted countries, also have their own protocols to observe, one, they must self-isolate in their respective homes and two, day seven, they must come out and do a test before they are being discharged,” he explained.

The minister said regrettably, many people who came in from non-restricted countries did not observe self-isolation and even when they did they thought it was an occasion to invite friends and relations.

“It is a dangerous practice. Those doing that are endangering their lives, the lives of their friends and relations.

“If you have taken the two doses of your AstraZeneca or new Moderna, they will not prevent you from catching COVID-19 again, the only advantage you have, if you catch it after you took the vaccine, you won’t be terribly sick, you may not even notice it, you won’t be hospitalised and you will not die of COVID-19.

“If someone comes in from a country like India for instance even if he is vaccinated and he meets a Nigerian who has been vaccinated, that Nigerian can still catch it because you need to have vaccinated at least 70 per cent of your population.

“It is when you have vaccinated 70 per cent of your population before you can achieve what they call herd immunity. Here we are still struggling with two per cent vaccination.

“So that is why we put what looks like tough travel protocols around most restricted and non-restricted countries.”

Mr Mohammed, however, noted that this list was not final and any country Nigeria noticed that COVID-19 or delta variant was becoming endemic such country would be added to the list because it was all about safety of lives of the citizens.

NAN