COVID-19: UK considers options to evacuate citizens in Nigeria

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The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ms Catriona Laing, has disclosed that the mission was exploring flight options to evacuate British nationals wishing to leave Nigeria.

She said the decision was informed by “the rapidly changing situation in the region and recent airport closures” over the coronavirus pandemic.

The envoy, who said this in a statement on the UK High Commission’s Twitter handle, @UK in Nigeria, on Thursday, noted that the commission had decided to reduce the number of the High Commission staff and dependents.

Laing explained that the missions in Abuja and Lagos will remain open to carry out essential work, including providing 24 hours consular assistance and support to the British nationals in the country.

The statement read, “Given the rapidly changing situation in the region, the recent airport closures and recognising that it has become more difficult to get out in case of need, we have taken the decision to reduce the number of UK (United Kingdom) staff and dependents from our High Commission.

“Our missions in both Abuja and Lagos will remain open, continuing to carry out essential work, including providing 24/7 consular assistance and support to the British nationals in Nigeria.

“We are exploring a range of options for sending staff and dependents home as there are no commercial options available.”

The envoy also said that the mission was exploring flight options for any British national who wished to return to the UK.

Meanwhile, China’s aviation regulator on Thursday issued strict new controls on foreign flights,  telling domestic airlines that they could maintain only one route to any specific country with no more than one flight per week.

International carriers faced similar restrictions from the Civil Aviation Administration of China, with only one route to China with no more than one weekly flight.

In addition to the flight restrictions, stringent measures were imposed on international flights that continue to operate, including a requirement that the plane carries only 75 per cent of its potential passenger load.

The moves come amid a global downturn for the aviation industry due to the novel coronavirus.

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