At least 376 United States citizens departed Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, for Washington Dulles International Airport on Monday as a result of the outbreak of Coronavirus in Nigeria.
The chartered flight operated by Ethiopian Airlines departed at about 5:25pm and is the first in a series of repatriation flights for American citizens out of Lagos.
Additional flights are expected to depart Lagos within the next few days.
Priority on repatriation flights is given to the elderly, individuals with serious health issues, unaccompanied minors, pregnant women, and physically challenged citizens.
Before boarding, health officials in Lagos conducted temperature checks on all passengers.
One of the evacuees, Mr Gabriel Idigo, expressed gratitude to the United States Government for rendering assistance to citizens stranded in Nigeria.
He said, “I have been here (Nigeria) for a while. I was stuck in the hotel for about two weeks. All my money had been depleted.
“I thank the US Government for coming to our aid. I am glad to be going home. From Washington Dulles International Airport, I hope to fly to Los Angeles where I live.”
As of April 5, 2020, the US Department of State had coordinated the repatriation of 43,116 Americans from 78 countries.
United States Consul General, Claire Pierangelo, noted that the repatriation flights represented a major effort by the US Consulate General, Lagos, with excellent cooperation from the Nigerian Government, Lagos State Government, Nigeria Immigration Service and the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria.
She said, “In times of emergency, the first priority of the Department of State is the safety of American citizens overseas.
“For that reason, throughout the world, we are working to ensure that Americans who want to return home are able to get home.
“We hope to get about 1, 000 Americans out of Lagos this week alone.”