December 1, 2020

1% of travellers into Nigeria test positive to COVID-19 daily — PTF

Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha

PTF on COVID-19 Chairman, Boss Mustapha.

…Postpones 2020 National Sports Festival to next year

…Plans strategy for Nigeria’s access to vaccines

By Chioma Obinna, Omeiza Ajayi & Gabriel Olawale

The Presiden- tial Taskforce, PTF, on COVID-19 yesterday raised the alarm that one percent of travellers into Nigeria on daily basis test positive to coronavirus.

The alarm came against the backdrop of forthcoming Christmas and New Year celebrations which often cause many Nigerians in the diaspora to return home.

Disclosing this at a briefing in Abuja, National Coordinator of Presidential Task Force, PTF, Dr. Sani Aliyu, said the one percent was a huge figure, considering the influx of people into the country.

Aliyu  said for instance, out of every 7,000 people that come into the country,  if 70 test positive, they had capacity to transmit the virus.

“International travel is not necessary at this critical time. We hope that people outside the country will stay where they are, while those of us in the country will also stay back at this critical time because international travels are no longer what they used to be.”

He further admonished Nigerians and lovers of the country in the Diaspora to stay back wherever they are and celebrate the festive period, pending when the world would be able to put the COVID-19 pandemic under control.  Aliyu said that travelling in or outside of Nigeria at this critical time would not be necessary except the trip was very urgent.

Aliyu said that for those who want to come into the country, there were a few lay down rules, regulation and protocol that needed to be complied with. “Before you come into the country you must do PCR test five days to departure. Once it’s negative, you go to Nigeria portal to register and make payment.

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“For arrival, you will need to do test seven days after arrival which you will need to be isolated and once it’s negative you can go on with your business. Payment is mandatory, seven days isolation is necessary. We have about six private laboratories in Abuja with another two coming.

Every state now has access to testing, testing is free for public health but if you want to travel you have to pay,” he stated.

In his presentation, Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce PTF on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, said the PTF was already working on the strategy for Nigeria to gain access to the vaccines as soon as they were available.

He said there had been a lot of positive developments around the world regarding vaccines, adding that before it becomes available, Nigerians had to continue to comply with the non-pharmaceutical interventions.

Continuing, he disclosed that the 2020 National Sports Festival scheduled to hold in Benin, Edo State, this month, had been postponed till next year to allow for proper safety protocol to be put in place.

Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, also disclosed that the PTF was escalating its surveillance and testing drive to ensure the spread of the virus was effectively contained. He said:   “We approach the festive season, we shall continue to remind Nigerians that all non-essential trips should be put off this December. This is for your safety and good health.

“Over the past weeks, discussions have been held about the safety issues pertaining to the National Sports Festival scheduled to hold in Benin, Edo State.  New dates have been agreed upon early in 2021, before which, measures would be put in place to minimize infections. The HM Youth and Sports would have been here to brief the nation on the preparations but for other exigencies. He will be here with us in subsequent briefings.’’

On NYSC, he said: “We are pleased to inform you that the first stream of NYSC has concluded camping, while we expect the 2nd stream to go to camp on December 3 and the third stream, January 2021.

‘’Necessary measures, building on the successes of the first stream, have been taken. The DG NCDC will brief you on this.” On his part, the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, also cautioned against local and international travels, saying there was need to remain extra-vigilant against the pandemic.

He said participants of the National Youth Service Corps NYSC scheme who tested positive in the stream A would now be absorbed into Stream B, urging Corps members to be ambassadors in the fight against COVID-19.

“We continue to respond to cases of yellow fever and Lassa. We are also on the lookout for meningitis as this is the period when there is usually an outbreak. So, we are not resting,” he added.