Nigeria impounds British plane, claims it violated rules designed to stop spread of coronavirus

Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.

A British-operated plane has been impounded in Nigeria, officials announced Sunday, claiming the pilot ignored the country’s flight ban aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

Passenger flights into Nigeria have been banned for weeks, though flights for essential services and humanitarian aid were allowed, Reuters reported. The ban is expected to last through next month.

Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika said Sunday that a plane operated by FlairJet, a British private charter company, had been impounded after violating the ban.

Sirika said the plane had been “given approval for humanitarian operations but regrettably we caught them conducting commercial flights.”

He continued, “The craft is impounded, crew being interrogated. There shall be maximum penalty.”

A sign about the response to the coronavirus last week in Lagos, Nigeria.

A sign about the response to the coronavirus last week in Lagos, Nigeria. (AP)

A spokesman for Flairjet told Fox News the company is working with the Nigerian authorities to resolve the situation. The company could not provide further details because it is an "evolving situation."

NIGERIA DEMOLISHES TWO HOTELS FOR BREACH OF CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN RULES: REPORT

Despite the coronavirus being slow to take hold in Africa, Nigeria in recent weeks has emerged as a new hotspot on the continent.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

As of Sunday, there have been over 5,600 confirmed cases of the virus in Nigeria with some 176 deaths, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.