COVID-19: 65 per cent of international returning passengers dodge tests ― PTF

• Says next two weeks critical

About 65 per cent of air passengers returning from abroad fail to present themselves for Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test as required by COVID-19 guidelines, the Presidential Task Force on the pandemic has said.

The Chairman of the task force and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, disclosed this while updating the media in Abuja on Tuesday.

He said this was a concern in view of the reopening of the Nigerian airspace and the second wave of the pandemic now ravaging other parts of the world.

According to him, the PTF has now decided to activate the already spelt out sanctions for violators including the suspension of their international passports for a period of six months.

Mustapha said: “The PTF has noted with sadness the failure of Nigerians who arrived from abroad to present themselves for the in-country PCR test which they signed up to and paid before arrival.

“Statistics emerging from our records show that only one out of three passengers have shown up for the in-country test.

“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.”

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The PTF chairman said it has continued to monitor situations around the world and would continue to draw the nation’s attention to the rising number of cases., noting that the next week or two would be critical.

He pointed out that global cases crossed the 46 million mark with USA, India and Brazil accounting for 50 per cent of all global cumulative burden.

Mustapha similarly said a number of countries in Europe have been forced to order their second lockdown due to spike in cases.

He said the reasons while the task force was concerned to include the fact that as at Monday, 2/11/2020, global statistics showed the following: Global cumulative cases: – 47,387,837; Global number of deaths: – 1,212,479; the UK and France have continued to struggle with record increases in numbers and have reintroduced total lockdown to control the spread.

He also noted that the United States has continued to witness record daily increase in the number of confirmed cases especially given the fact that it was in the middle of a Presidential contest.

On the African Continent, he pointed out that it has recorded a cumulative total case count of 1,813,800 (including 43,461 deaths); and

He added: “The head of the WHO is reported to have gone into isolation out of the abundance of caution and the need to underscore the importance of contact tracing.

“The PTF at the last briefing cautioned on the need to avoid complacency on account of the low number of infections published daily and the possibility of a second wave.

“That advice was premised on the fact that risk perception remains very low and sample collection has been on the decline.

“In the midst of all these, the nation has experienced several large gathering events during which the Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions were not really observed. The situation in Europe and the reports from the USA showing the consequences of non-adherence are quite vivid.

“The PTF is highlighting these issues repeatedly because we remain at risk of importation, having opened our airspace and massive spread as a result of the protests.”

The SGF said as part of the strategy of the PTF to deepen community engagement, he addressed an emergency session of the National Executive Committee of the National Council of Traditional Rulers on Tuesday, noting that the contributions of traditional rulers to the successes so far recorded in the National Response could not be overemphasized.

He acknowledged and thanked all traditional rulers for their support and urged them to continue to do more especially in the areas of risk communication and community engagement.

According to him, adherence to the Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions measures and the need for people to come out for testing were emphasized.

Mustapha informed that the PTF has revised its meeting and briefing frequency to once a week, to allow members to carry out other functions and activities.

However, he stated that this does not preclude the need to call for emergency meetings and briefings when the need arises.

“With effect from Thursday, November 5, 2020, therefore, the national briefing will only hold once, weekly,” he said.



COVID-19: 65 per cent of international returning passengers dodge tests ― PTF

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