Mustapha accuses passengers of shunning post arrival COVID-19 tests, advises Nigerians to suspend Christmas travels

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The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has accused  some in-bound travellers of refusing to take the mandatory post-seven days Coronavirus (COVID-19) tests after arriving the country.

Speaking at the National  briefing on COVID-19 on Monday in Abuja, the Chairman of the PTF, Mr Boss Mustapha, said “​The PTF has been evaluating the compliance level of Nigerians with the protocols for testing by in-bound and out-bound travelers.

“It has been discovered that some of these travellers have indulged in presenting fake documents.

“Some, that have paid for post arrival testing, have failed to show up for the tests,” Mustapha said.

While giving more details, he explained that “Statistics showed the following as at November 9, 2020; total No of bookings:  91,522

​Total No of passengers exempted: 5,470 (6 per cent); children: 1,248 (1.36 percent); Diplomats: 3,392 (3.7 perbcent);

​Evacuees: 830 (0.9 per cent).

“Total passengers expected to pay were 86,052 (94 per cent); paid: 46,982 (54.6 per cent); Not Paid: 39,070(45.45 per cent); Travelers 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: NGN220 – 270 million naira,” he said.

Mustapha further said “​The PTF is concluding steps to work with relevant institutions and legal authorities to impose appropriate sanctions on those that default on the protocols.”
He also warned that a second wave of the pandemic was very much likely,  advising Nigerians to suspend their Christmas travels due to the risk of contracting the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

“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,’ he said.

Mustapha said that similarly, the PTF found it necessary to mention that during the Christmas and New Year festivities, large social gatherings should also be avoided because there was 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,” he noted.

The SGF stressed that the development in the country and around the world particularly in the U.S. and in Europe remained  a major source of concern to the PTF.

According to him, 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.

He, however, said the task force had  been evaluating the compliance level of Nigerians with the protocols for testing by in-bound and out-bound travellers.

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