A chartered plane conveying Nigerian returnees from the United Arab Emirates has made a U-turn after a pregnant woman reportedly went into labour.
The Chairman of the Nigerian in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa confirmed this to Igbo Live.
The plane, which was scheduled to arrive at 3 pm is now expected to land at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport at 7 pm.
Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama also confirmed the u-turn during his speech at the Presidential Task Force briefing on COVID-19 on Wednesday.
“One of the passengers, a lady, had a baby on the flight, or went into labour,” Onyeama said. “So the plane had to turn back. And I am happy to say mother and child are doing well in the hospital. And the arrival time has been rescheduled to 7 pm this evening.”
After weeks of delay, the first batch of Nigerians stuck abroad amid the coronavirus pandemic were expected in the country today.
The Emirates flight is expected to be the first of at least two other flights scheduled to evacuate Nigerians within the next few days.
According to the foreign ministry, discussions are ongoing with British Airways to airlift 300 Nigerians from London on Friday; arrangements are also being made with Ethiopian airlines for a flight from New York to Abuja next Monday.
Over 4,000 Nigerians are waiting to be evacuated across the world back home, foreign affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama said on Monday.
Coming into isolation
The returning Nigerians are expected to be quarantined for 14 days in select hotels on their arrival, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
The quarantine is required to ensure the coronavirus-status of every returnee is ascertained.
The foreign ministry said it has made arrangements for hotel accommodations in Lagos and Abuja, which will be used to quarantine the incoming citizens.
The hotels have been inspected by the “Port Health Services, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Office of the National Security Adviser, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and IPC,” the ministry said.
A global pandemic halts all travel
The evacuations have become important as the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep through the world.
The novel coronavirus has killed at least 254,532 people since the outbreak first emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP on Tuesday.
The virus has particularly ravaged the airline industry, with countries closing borders, forcing travellers to cancel travel plans.
Other countries have been in the news for evacuating their nationals from foreign soil back home.
The United States has evacuated at least 1,000 Americans from Nigeria since the WHO declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic.
Nigeria’s efforts to evacuate citizens from abroad has been hampered by several obstacles, including the ability to secure quarantine facilities for the returnees on their arrival, according to Minister Onyeama.