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COVID-19: FG blames states for low testing

…bans 100 travellers for 6 months

The Federal Government has said that despite the resources made available to the states across the country, testing is very low across states in varying degrees.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Mr. Boss Mustapha, said this on Tuesday in Abuja at the joint national briefing on the taskforce.

According to him, this is not helping the National Response and that some states have not reported any infections in several weeks.

“Reports received also point to the fact that laboratories recently established in the states are not working optimally. You will recall that we moved from two laboratories to about 90 (Public and Private) located in all states of the Federation.

“Their inability to function optimally has resulted in unacceptable levels of delay in receiving results and pressure on the National Reference Labs. We wish to urge all states to reopen all laboratories and ensure that testing is expanded and turnaround time for results is substantially reduced,” Mustapha said.

He therefore urged the states to keep their Isolation/Treatment Centres open because of the rising cases of infection nationwide

He also said that the National Response is passing through a challenging phase due to the seriousness of the second wave of infections in Nigeria.

The SGF said that Week 52 has so far given the nation the highest number of infections, in a single week, to date.

He said that the nation’s test positivity ratio (TPR) analysis shows that 16 out of every 100 tests carried out are positive.

“We are also seeing increasing transmission among younger people and this is not considered good and safe. We must therefore exercise utmost restraint by taking responsibility,” he added.

New protocols for UK, South Africa travellers

The SGF also said that the PTF has worked out additional quarantine protocols to be observed by travelers arriving from the UK and South Africa.

According to him, “this is in keeping with government determination to minimize any possibility of importation of the virus.

He said, “The new policy started from Monday, 28th December, 2020. Key changes include requirement for passengers for two additional documents, permit to travel/QR code obtained from the travel portal after payment for the day seven post-arrival test; and COVID-19 PCR negative test with a validity now shortened to 96 hours or 4 days.

“The PTF shall remain vigilant on this matter and our relevant agencies are also working on the sequencing to determine the strain found.”

100 travellers banned for 6 months

The SGF also said that with effect from 1st January, 2021 the passports of the first 100 passengers that failed to take their day seven post-arrival PCR test will be published in the national dailies.

According to him, the passports, as a deterrence, will also be suspended till June 2021.

Stressing the issue of oxygen availability as critical to the success of case management, the SGF said that there is an on-going review of the chain for the supply of medical oxygen for the medical facilities across the nation.

He said, “While we work on immediate measures, we wish to express our appreciation to Mr. Raj Gupta and Abuja Steel Mills for bridging the gap in oxygen requirements in Abuja with at least 100 cylinders of medical oxygen daily for the next three months, as part of the contributions of CACOVID.

“We are also grateful to the Nigeria Airforce for logistics support to the health sector in the last nine months.”

While wishing that the blessings of Christmas be upon all Nigerians, he expressed hope that all Nigerians would played safe and observed all the non pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) during the festivities.

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