The United States has started to evacuate its citizens from Nigeria, a statement from the American embassy said on Monday.
The evacuation comes as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep across the world.
A total of 376 U.S. citizens departed Murtala Mohammad International Airport, Lagos for Washington Dulles International Airport on Monday, according to the embassy’s press statement.
The chartered flight operated by Ethiopian Airlines departed at about 17:25 local time 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.
The embassy said priority was being given to the elderly, individuals with serious health issues, unaccompanied minors, pregnant women, and physically challenged citizens.
Before boarding, local health authorities conducted temperature checks on all of the passengers.
“Following the closure of Nigerian airports to all international commercial flights, many Americans have contacted the U.S. Mission requesting assistance to return home,” the statement said.
According to data from the US Department of State, as of April 6, the U.S. has repatriated or helped to repatriate over 44,000 U.S. citizens from 78 countries since January 29, 2020.