COVID-19: Nigeria risks massive infection as returning travelers shun PCR tests | Dailytrust

COVID-19: Nigeria risks massive infection as returning travelers shun PCR tests

SGF Boss Mustapha
SGF Boss Mustapha

The Federal Government of Nigeria has raised the alarm that the nation risks massive infections of the Coronavirus pandemic, especially in next two weeks, over the possible importation of the virus into the country.

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

According to him, the PTF had noted with sadness the failure of Nigerians who arrived from abroad to present themselves for the in-country Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test which they signed up to and paid before arrival.

According to him, statistics emerging from the nation’s records show that only one out of three passengers have shown up for the in-country test.

“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,” Mustapha said.

Apparently referring to the two governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states and the #EndSARS nationwide protests, which later resulted in hoodlum violence and looting, the SGF said: “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 next week or two remain critical.

“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.”

 

Sanctions for defaulters

He also recalled that the PTF announced the guidelines on the reopening of the airspace and the obligations of arriving passengers.

He said: “The PTF similarly announced sanctions as a consequence of any infraction.

“Having observed serious non-compliance to the level of 65 percent, the need has arisen to activate the sanctions which includes the suspension of the passports of such defaulting individuals for a period of six months minimum.”

While saying that the PTF had revised its meeting and briefing frequency to once a week to allow members carry out other functions and activities, Mustapha said that this does not preclude the need to call for emergency meetings and briefings when the need arises.

He said that with effect from Thursday, 5th November, 2020 the national briefing will only hold weekly.

He said that the briefing could not hold last week Thursday 27th October due to the Eid-el-Maulud, which is a public holiday and could also not hold on Monday due to other exigencies including engagements with the National Assembly on the 2021 budget.

He, therefore, felicitated with the Muslim Ummah on the commemoration of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad and also pray for mercy upon humanity and protection against the coronavirus pandemic.

 

PTF to monitor cases

He also said that the PTF continues to monitor situations around the World and will continue to draw attention to the rising number of cases.

He said: “Global cases crossed the 46 million mark with USA, India and Brazil accounting for 50 percent of all global cumulative burden.

“A number of countries in Europe have been forced to order their second lockdown due to spike in cases.

“​The reasons for concern include the fact that as at Monday, 2/11/2020, global statistics showed global cumulative cases: 47,387,837; global deaths: 1,212,479; while the UK and France have continued to struggle with record increases in numbers and have reintroduced total lockdown to control the spread.

“The United States continue to witness record daily increase in number of confirmed cases, especially given the fact that it is in the middle of a Presidential contest; the African Continent has, as at the same date, recorded a cumulative total case count of 1,813,800 (including 43,461 deaths); and the head of the WHO is reported to have gone into isolation out of abundance of caution and the need to underscore the importance of contact tracing.

Mustapha added that as part of the strategy of the PTF to deepen community engagement, he addressed an emergency session of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the National Council of Traditional Rulers (NCTR) on Tuesday.

According to him, the contributions of the traditional rulers to the successes so far recorded in the National Response cannot be overemphasized.

He, therefore, thanked all the traditional rulers for their support and urged them to continue to do more, especially in the areas of risk communication and community engagement; adherence to the non-pharmaceutical intervention measures and the need for people to come out for testing were emphasized.

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