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COVID-19: FG warns Nigerians to suspend Christmas travels



  • Decries inbound passengers presenting fake tests certificate

The Federal Government has again restated that a second wave of the pandemic was likely and has, therefore, advised Nigerians to suspend or postpone Christmas travels due to the risk of contracting the virus.

Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, gave the warning at the media briefing in Abuja, yesterday.

“Ahead of the upsurge in travels for the Christmas and New Year festivities, we urge strongly that for this year, such trips should be put on hold firmly because of the risks involved. The transmission rate has simply become astronomical.

“The PTF similarly finds it necessary to mention that during the Christmas and New Year festivities, large social gatherings should also be avoided because there is a bigger risk of COVID-19 transmission. New clusters of cases can emerge in places that have so far been unaffected as people travel and gather for festivities. But we can lower the risks by adhering to the NPIs (Non-Pharmaceutical measures) and celebrate, safely. There will always be many more festive seasons to celebrate.”

Mustapha said the developments at home and around the world particularly in the United States of America and in Europe remain major concern to the PTF.

“This is particularly so because: Our risk perception is low in-country. Our compliance with non-pharmaceutical measures is extremely low to the extent that Nigerians now think COVID-19 is no more; the response of citizens to testing and detection is very low; the risk of importation will be higher with the opening of our airspace; and the numbers in Nigeria, though appearing low over the last two weeks, has been rising gradually.

The PTF chairman said the task force has been evaluating the compliance of Nigerians with the protocols for testing by in-bound and out-bound travellers.

He regretted the discovery that some of the travellers have indulged in presenting fake documents.

“Some, that have paid for post arrival testing have failed to show up for the tests. Statistics show the following as at 9/11/2020: Total No of bookings:  91,522; Total No of passengers exempted: 5,470 (6%); Children: 1,248 (1.36%); Diplomats: 3,392 (3.7%); Evacuees: 830 (0.9%); Total Passengers expected to Pay: 86,052(94%); Paid: 46,982 (54.6%) ; Not Paid: 39,070(45.45%).

“Travellers that have arrived in-country but have not paid (approximately 39,000); Amount paid to private labs by passengers who have refused to take the post-arrival 7-day test: N220 – 270 million.

“The PTF is concluding steps to work with relevant institutions and legal authorities to impose appropriate sanctions on those that default on the protocols. The Port Health Services will elaborate more on this.”

Meanwhile, the National Coordinator of Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, has advised schools to send any child with respiratory symptoms consistent with coronavirus home in order to reduce risk of transmission.

“School reopening: following some of the issues we had with Lagos State with outbreaks in some of the schools, we will like to re-emphasis adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions by schools and in particular screening and heightened awareness with regards to COVID-19.

“Any student presenting with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 particularly respiratory symptoms or fever should not be allowed to come to school. When teachers noticed a child with respiratory, the child should be sent back home, so that we can reduce the risk of transmission. Just as it is important for the need to communicate effectively with parents, staff, school health teams and creating protocols and providing regular updates on any changes to the school procedures as it relates to COVID-19.

“We encourage schools to continue to consider creative solutions to abide by our COVID-19 guidelines including staggered learning to avoid overcrowding, Platooning, daily attendance and adjusting teachings etc.”

He confirmed that 60 percent of inbound travellers who paid for the compulsory PCR test but fail to turn up for the test seven days after arriving the country would be restricted from traveling for the next six months.


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