Gift Joseph Okpakorese
Media sources have reported that some Nigerians are still scurrying to obtain passports to the South Asian country of India despite reports of an outbreak of a deadly variant of COVID-19 in major cities in India.
Discoveries indicated that the consulate bureau of the Indian High Commission was still experiencing a large number of recruitment of applicants from forthcoming Nigerian travelers and this reality was confirmed by an eyewitness and correspondent of PUNCH, who was at the Indian High Commission in Abuja during the week, and he attested to the fact that numerous Nigerians were indeed crowded and waiting at the consular office for interviews.
More so, The Sunday PUNCH revealed that the consular personnel was taking the biometrics of visa applicants while many Nigerian passports were lying on the desks anticipating the scrutiny of consular administrators. Although the number of applications collected by the consulate could not be instantly verified as at the time of this report.
However, comments by an official of the consulate who agreed to speak to journalists although on condition of anonymity, remarked that the high commission was very rigorous with awarding visas especially due to the current reports of the outbreak of the deadly variant of COVID-19 witnessed in India to have been responsible for the loss of several lives.
Speaking on the current situation at the India consulate the official stated that; “We are surprised that many Nigerians are still coming for visas despite the COVID-19 deaths in India. Many of them claimed they were going for business or tourism but we are giving visas only to those with medical emergencies.
“Some of the applicants do not seem to have genuine reasons for traveling to India at this point, so we are enforcing strict rules in granting visas. Only those traveling for medical reasons stand great chances of getting our visa.”
Quizzed about the possible importation of the mutant COVID-19 from India, Sunday James, the public relations officer for the Nigeria Immigration Service, disclosed that; “The Nigeria Immigration Service is working so hard and doing all within its capacity to guarantee that all procedures on COVID-19 are strictly adhered to especially at all the borders of the country.
“We are also committed to ensuring that all those who do not report as stipulated in the protocols will have their passports revoked.”
Nevertheless, press reports reveal there’s been news of a fire incidence in a COVID-19 infirmary region in western India which resulted in the death of 18 victims on Saturday, May 1st, 2021.
A similar incident was also reported in April, in an intensive care unit where a fire accident killed 13 COVID-19 patients in the Virar area on the outskirts of Mumbai. Also, another 12 COVID-19 patients, including a doctor, on high-flow oxygen died Saturday as well at the Batra Hospital in New Delhi after the hospital ran out of oxygen supply for 80 minutes.
Speaking on the sad incident, S Gupta the hospital director, remarked that the facility had been witnessing jagged oxygen ration from manufacturers for quite a while but it tired out completely for the first time. He also added that the hospital tank was refilled with enough oxygen for 12 hours and it would again be looking for replenishment.
The Nation’s authorities responsible for ensuring the safety of citizens regarding the deadly Coronavirus have warned that as India wrestles with a deadly second wave of the pandemic, that traveling Nigerians should be wary and avoid the risk of getting infected with the COVID-19 third wave. Medical experts and the NCAA have warned and advised against direct flight with India.
Furthermore, as a result of the fatalities recorded so far, the U.S. authorities have given a directive for all citizens to leave the country.
Recent stats according to the Indian health ministry, revealed that the Asian country on Saturday may 1st establish another global record with 401,993 new cases, bringing its score to an additional 19.1 million. Also, another 3,523 people died in the past 24 hours, raising the general casualties to 211,853.
Meanwhile, financial, medical, and human support and relief materials have been pouring in from various countries around the globe such as the United States, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and Bangkok, at this period of difficulty for the highly populated Asian nation.