The Federal Government has booked hotel rooms in Lagos for Nigerians returning from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on account of the coronavirus pandemic.

The citizens will be quarantined in the hotels for two weeks on arrival to ascertain their status.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, disclosed that the concerned individuals may be repatriated on Monday.

He had last Friday lamented the refusal of the hotels in Lagos and Abuja to offer their premises as isolation centres for the over 2,000 Nigerians awaiting evacuation abroad.

Onyeama stated that the hotels believed that accommodating the returnees may damage their brand.

But providing an update in Abuja on Tuesday, during a briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the minister disclosed that some hotels in Lagos have agreed to accept the returning citizens.

He said, “The low hanging fruit at the moment are those who already paid for their flight from Dubai, they were expecting to be here last week, but unfortunately, they had not cross-checked to find out the health situation. Foreign affairs was not as directly involved as we would have liked.

“Be that as it may, since they have already paid, everything is more or less in place. That flight was supposed to go to Lagos, we have made a bit more progress with hotels here in Abuja than in Lagos. But speaking to the governor, we agreed that we just have to do the first one quickly, we learn lessons and so forth. It is absolutely important to get that flight here.”

Onyeama lauded the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for assisting with the hotel accommodations, noting that his committee was trying to bring the rates down.

He added, “We have been able to identify hotels here in Abuja and also in Lagos. I was on the phone this afternoon with the Governor of Lagos and he has done a wonderful job in trying to bring the prices of the hotels in Lagos down and we are struggling to bring the prices down here in Abuja.

“We know that a lot of people who want to come back have found themselves stuck outside for a long period of time and using resources that they did not expect to use. They also have resources challenges. We are looking at all kinds of possibilities to address that situation.”

The minister noted that the hotels were demanding advance payment, adding that the technical committee was working out the mechanism for this.

“Our arrangement is that the person (returnee) will have to pay forward and that mechanism is something we have to work out. We put a date of Monday and we are going to do everything humanly possible to try and get that plane here first,” he stated.