… As Lagos announces a slight reduction in the cost of PCR tests
By Chioma Obinna
The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi on Wednesday disclosed that the Presidential Steering Committee, PSC, on COVID-19, has deactivated international passports of 200 inbound passengers who either presented fake PCR tests, COVID vaccination cards as well as false travel information for a period of one year.
Meanwhile, the State government has announced a slight reduction in the cost of the COVID-19 PCR test at its accredited private laboratories from N50, 400 to N45, 250 per PCR test beginning from 28th of January 2022.
Disclosing these in a press statement, Abayomi frowned at what he described as ‘the dubious and irresponsible actions of some inbound passengers who present fake PCR tests and COVID vaccination cards and fill in false travel information in an attempt to bypass the national COVID guidelines.
“It has come to the notice of the State Government that certain returning passengers present themselves at the airport either with fake COVID-9 PCR tests or fake vaccination cards or registering as children under 10 years to bypass the National guidelines or providing false COVID related information.
“These acts will not be tolerated as they represent the main catalyst of all the four waves which have had a major impact on the State public health systems and the economy.
“Whilst we understand that it may not have been the fault of passengers but facilitated by unscrupulous individuals assisting them, we have taken a decision not to submit their passports for deactivation by the Presidential Steering Committee, in the first instance, but give them an opportunity to present themselves at our mobile court to defend themselves and help identify where they are obtaining the fake documents if applicable”, Abayomi said.
He disclosed that confirmed defaulters would be subject to fines or community service as the acts are criminal in nature.
He said: “In the meantime, we have submitted the first 200 names of individuals who have failed to present themselves at the mobile courts to the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) and their passports have been deactivated for a period of one year.
He said the names will be published in the dailies in the coming week while the next set of names will follow in the coming month.
“We encourage all those who have received a text message to present themselves at the mobile court to avoid these sanctions,” Abayomi added.
Continuing, he said the State Government will continue to ensure heightened public surveillance for COVID and ensure access to free PCR testing at all its public health facilities.
Abayomi who noted that the COVID-19 PCR test cost was reviewed and approved by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, explained that it was to cut the expenses to be incurred by citizens who need the PCR tests for travel, work, or other purposes other than COVID symptoms or contact tracing.
“In line with the directive of Mr Governor, the Lagos State Biobank has reviewed the processes involved in conducting a COVID-19 PCR test at the accredited private laboratories consortium and based on this, made a recommendation to the Governor for a reduction.
He called on citizens, particularly, inbound passengers who are required by law to test on arrival, to reciprocate this gesture by booking, paying and presenting themselves at any of the accredited laboratories’ consortium at approved days for their PCR tests on arrival in Lagos.
Abayomi further stated that PCR tests at approved public health laboratories and sample collection centres around the State remain absolutely free for citizens who need to test for COVID; either because they have COVID like symptoms or have been exposed to a positive case.