Travellers Shun COVID-19 Tests As Govt. Threatens Sanctions

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has raised the alarm over possible rise in the disease in Nigeria as travellers arriving the country shun the mandatory tests to establish their status.

PTF chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, who raised the alarm at a press briefing yesterday, expressed sadness at the failure of some Nigerians who arrived from abroad to present themselves for the in-country PCR test which they signed up to and paid for before arrival.

Mustapha disclosed that available statistics showed that only one out of three passengers have shown up for the in-country test.

He warned that henceforth government might have to suspend the passports of travellers that refuse to show up for their PCR tests on arrival into the country after the specified seven days of isolation.

“As you may recall, the PTF announced the guidelines on the reopening of the airspace and the obligations of arriving passengers.

The PTF similarly announced sanctions as a consequence of any infraction. Having observed serious non-compliance to the level of 65%, the need has arisen to activate the sanctions which include the suspension of the passports of such defaulting individuals for a period of six months minimum,” he said.

 

 

National Coordinator of PTF, Sani Aliyu, said that the total sum of N50 billion has so far been released to the sub-national governments to improve the testing capacities of the states and the Federal Capital Territory.

Aliyu, who disclosed the states have been given resources to tackle the disease, expressed gratitude to all state governors for opening up sample collection centres across the country.

“Every state has received at least N1 billion, the state governments have received the largest single bulk of the PTF intervention. As of today, a total of N50 billion went to states.

So we have enough resources at the state level to be able to push for increased testing and improved surveillance.

“We will continue to work with state governments and urged them to use these resources for the purpose that the Federal Government has given. We have to invest in making sure that the pandemic comes down. There is no doubt we have not flattened the curve yet.

“For those of us that follow the numbers very closely, despite the fact that we are not testing enough, if you follow the number on a week to week basis, you would have noticed a changed in the trajectory in the last one week based on the numbers released,” he said.

Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who also addressed the press  conference, cautioned Nigerians to avoid complacency on account of the low number of infections published daily and the possibility of a second wave.

Wole Shadare