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HURIWA wants flights from UK banned over new COVID-19 variant

By Segun Olaniyi, Abuja
22 December 2020   |   4:13 am
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to be a good leader by putting measures in place to prevent Nigerians from unwarranted deaths of COVID-19 pandemic.

• Urges suspension of NIN registration
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to be a good leader by putting measures in place to prevent Nigerians from unwarranted deaths of COVID-19 pandemic.

HURIWA tasked the Federal Government to immediately placed a travel embargo on all flights to and from the United Kingdom to stave off arrival of new variant of the coronavirus pandemic which is said to be much more virulent than the known virus at the beginning of the pandemic in March.

In a statement issued by the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, HURIWA added that from the monitoring of global news reports, over 30 countries across Europe and beyond have begun closing their borders to travelers from the United Kingdom on Sunday.

The group noted that the European Union had set up a crisis management meeting, a day after Britain’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, ordered a wholesale lockdown of London and surrounding areas, citing concerns of a new fast-spreading variant of the coronavirus.

Onwubiko said: “HURIWA is also aware that the first wave of countries to bar travelers from the United Kingdom was in Europe. The Netherlands said it would suspend flights from Britain from Sunday until January 1, noting that the variant found in England was ‘thought to spread more easily and more quickly.’

“Italy also suspended air travel, and Belgian officials on Sunday enacted a 24-hour ban on arrivals from the United Kingdom by air or train, which could be extended. Germany and Switzerland announced ban on travel between their countries and both Britain and South Africa, where a similarly contagious version of the virus has emerged. Austria, Ireland, France, and Bulgaria also announced ban. Portugal, which banned travel to and from the United Kingdom, is making exceptions for Portuguese nationals or residents.

“Canada said on Sunday that it would ban all flights from the UK for 72 hours, beginning at midnight. So, what is President Muhammadu Buhari waiting for or is he waiting for any of his family members in the UK to return before his administration wakes up from devastating slumber?”

The group also called on the government to immediately put on hold the registration of telecoms subscribers for National Identity Number (NIN), describing the threat by the Communications and Digital Economy Minister, Ibrahim Patanmi, to block SIM cards not synchronised with NIN as unfortunate and despicable.

“It is an illiterate and wholly unscientific, unscrupulous directive which will inevitably push up the infection rates of the COVID-19 pandemic and could lead to more avoidable deaths due to the stampede by millions of Nigerians waiting for hours in queues to obtain the NIN so as not to lose connections to their lines,” HURIWA said.