• Thursday, June 20, 2024
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BusinessDay

Flights are fully booked despite NCDC’s warning against non-essential travel

Many Nigerians ready to checkout now as economy bites harder

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had issued a public health advisory to Nigerians warning against non-essential travels but a check on flights and road transport companies across the country shows many are fully booked.

The NCDC said in an advisory published on November 30 that “during the Christmas and New Year celebrations, we recognise that people want to travel and be with family and friends.

“However, this has been a difficult year and the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our usual way of living and we all have to make adjustments in our lives to the new reality we are faced with,” the agency said.

The agency, therefore, warned that the COVID-19 virus does not spread on its own, it spreads when people move around. This means that by traveling across countries and cities, there is a higher risk of transmission, especially to rural areas where the existing health infrastructure is already weak.

Nigerians are therefore advised to be vigilant, this is not the time to let our guard time, the NCDC warned.

It urged Nigerians to limit all non-essential domestic and international travel especially to countries recording a high number of COVID-19 cases and limit festivities to members of one’s immediate household, wear face coverings and continue physical distancing measures.

“While remaining physically distanced, remain socially connected with friends and loved ones using mobile or video conferencing technology,” the agency said.

Read also: Covid-19: FG rolls out new measures for UK, South Africa travellers

However, BusinessDay checks across different domestic airlines and with interstate transport companies show that many are ignoring this counsel and embarking on trips to rural areas. They are also ignoring basic physical distancing measures especially in vehicles.

For example, a check on the website of Airpeace, Nigeria’s leading domestic airline reveals that flights to Owerri in the southeastern part of Nigeria from Monday till after December 25 have been fully booked even with ticket prices jumping to over 100 percent.

Transport companies including ABC, Chisco transport have seen high bookings from city centres to remote villages. Many Nigerians from the South-Eastern part of Nigeria routinely travel to the villages to celebrate festivities.

This situation mirrors that in the United States where many Americans were warned by health experts to avoid travels to see family members and loved ones over the Thanksgiving holidays which were ignored resulting in a spike in COVID-19 deaths. Last week on average of 2000 people died daily from COVID-19.

While Nigeria has been spared the worst impacts of COVID-19, “since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Nigeria, just over 67,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported with just over 1,000 deaths,” said the NCDC.

Most of the confirmed cases and deaths have been in urban/semi-urban cities and towns and the risk of spread remains, the government agency said.