COVID-19: FG goes tough, slams travel ban on 100 Nigerians

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The Federal Government on Saturday slammed a six-month travel ban on 100 passengers who failed to undergo the compulsory COVID-19 test after their return to the country.

The affected persons will not be allowed to leave Nigeria earlier than June 30, 2021, the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 announced yesterday.

“The PTF has placed travel restrictions on the first 100 passengers for non-compliance to the mandatory Day 7 post-arrival COVID-19 test,” the PTF tweeted.

The restriction took effect from January 1, 2021 and will end at the end of June.

The names of the defaulters were not mentioned but a list containing their passport numbers was attached to the tweet.

It said all the people had been personally contacted.

In a separate statement, Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Mr. Boss Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), said: “Based on presidential authority, travel restrictions are being placed on the following passports due to non-compliance to the mandatory Day 7 post-arrival COVID-19 PCR tests.

“Defaulting passengers have been notified and will be prevented from travelling out of the country during this period.”

A top source in PTF told The Nation that the list of the affected Nigerians had “been sent to the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and other security agencies to stop them from travelling out.

“Any further defiance may lead to the cancellation of their passports. We are no longer going to tolerate any laxity on the part of any Nigerian, no matter how highly-placed,” the source said.

On his part, the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, in a tweet, said: “We understand Nigerians’ urge to relax on compliance measures for #COVID19 prevention after a difficult year. The challenge is:  this virus doesn’t recognise human necessities to celebrate.

“Therefore we’ve sustained the response and must collectively take responsibility.”

“Thank you Nigerians and our partners for the support, as we led the public health response to the #COVID19 pandemic and other disease outbreaks in 2020.

“As the pandemic continues, please take responsibility. We remain committed to our mandate in protecting the health of Nigerians.”

Meanwhile, investigation confirmed last night that President Muhammadu Buhari may determine the fate of states with lukewarm attitude to COVID-19 management.

Some states were alleged to have shut down testing laboratories and isolation centres.

A PTF member said: “I think the President will determine the fate of recalcitrant states. In fact, some people have been pushing for the seizure of their monthly statutory allocations and other forms of sanctions.

“On our part, we have initiated discussions with the leadership of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) on how to offer the best to Nigerians in this trying period.”

The SGF had on Tuesday listed the challenges being faced from the states by the PTF.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Kalu urges caution, observance of protocols

He also spoke on the expectations of the PTF from states.

Mustapha said: “You will recall that we recently issued some protocols to states which a number of states have been actively implementing. We thank these states and urge others to follow suit.

“Closely related to these protocols is the fact that the strategy of testing to detect and treat remains central to the role states are expected to play.

“Data show that despite the resources already made available to sub-national entities, testing is very low across states in varying degrees. This is not helping our national response.

“Indeed, 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 & 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.

‘In the same vein, states should please keep their isolation/treatment centres open because of the rising cases of infection nationwide.”

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