By Harrison Arubu
Evacuation of Nigerians stranded in the U.S. due to the novel coronavirus pandemic is to begin on May 10, according to the Consulate-General of Nigeria in New York.
The consulate-general disclosed this in a notice signed by the Consul-General, Mr Benaoyagha Okoyen, on behalf of the Nigerian Missions in the U.S. on Sunday.
According to the notice, no fewer than 700 Nigerians have registered with the missions in the U.S. for evacuation, which will be done in batches.
It said that the first batch of 270 evacuees would be transported to Abuja through an Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 509.
The plane is expected to depart the Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey at 9.15p.m., and fly directly to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
As earlier announced by the Federal Government, the flight is at the expense of the evacuees, who will all fly economy class, according to the notice.
“The projected cost for the one-way economy ticket is between 1,300 dollars (N488,800) and 1,700 dollars (N639,200) per adult.
“Please note that over 700 Nigerian nationals have registered with our missions in the USA to be evacuated.
“However, only 270 passengers shall be accommodated in this batch of evacuation.
“Missions will, therefore, attend to applicants on a first come, first served basis and shall prioritise the list of evacuees according to their immigration status.
“This includes the need to consider those stranded with proof of short stay visas, the elderly, families with children and returning students,” it said.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York, Okoyen said that the dates for subsequent batches would be announced in due course.
To curb the spread of COVID-19, the Federal Government on March 18 imposed restrictions on travels from 13 countries with high burdens.
The countries are China, Iran, South Korea, Germany, Italy, U.S. United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway, Netherlands, Spain, France, Japan, Australia and Sweden.
Consequently, many Nigerians, who were on short-term visits to the affected countries, became stranded.