From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government through the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 has expressed concern over fraudulent activities perpetuated at Nigeria’s international airports by on-duty staff who extort money from passengers wishing to evade quarantine requirements.
The Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of PSC on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, disclosed at Monday’s media briefing that authorities are already conducting necessary investigation in to various reports received.
According to him, although global cases have been on a decline for sometimes now there is a need for more caution, especially among Nigerians.
‘The PSC has observed that caution is needed rather than over-confidence and that there is a decline of suspicion index among doctors. To slide into complacency can be very fatal, hence the need for serious caution and adherence to the non-pharmaceutical intervention measures, vaccination and protocols on self-isolation. The coronavirus is still very much around us and it is virulent and deadly,’ Mustapha said
He also said the PSC has taken note of the challenges raised by travelers that visit the National International Travel Portal in compliance with travel protocols with a view to addressing them.
Mustapha added that notable progress is still being made in the area of vaccine. According to him, ‘over 3.5 million doses of Pfizer is being expected from the US Government this month while about 4 million doses of Astrazeneca is being expected early next month. Nigeria will be receiving over one million doses of J&J shipments on a monthly basis. The PSC is committed to access enough vaccines for the 70% eligible persons in the country in record time.’
He informed that the South-South Geo-Political Zone Town Hall Meeting held on Saturday, September 25 in Benin City to discuss the on-going COVID-19 vaccination programme in the country and get the view and commitment of the leaders and people in our efforts to protect Nigerians against the pandemic. ‘We encourage the people to come out and take the vaccine as well as take the responsibility to mobilise our families and communities to get vaccinated and continue to observe the NPIs to prevent further spread of the virus. Remember, “No One is Safe until everyone is Safe”,’ he stated.
Mustapha noted the United Kingdom advisory on COVID-19 vaccines and changes to International Travel Rules, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria has stated that the UK government of course supports the vaccination programme in the country with vaccines irrespective of where they were manufactured. They will however open up international travels using a standardized COVID-19 vaccination certification process to allow for ease of travels from countries – Nigeria included.
The PSC chairman used the occasion of the last press briefing that Dr Chikwe Ihekwaezu attended, before he leaves to resume as an assistant Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), to show encomiums on him for his contribution as Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Muhammadu Buhari had appointed Dr Ifedayo Morayo Adetifa as the new Director General of the NCDC, who will be taking over from Ihekwaezu on November 1. He is currently understudying the incumbent and learning the ropes on the national response.
‘I want to use this opportunity to thank him for his diligence, professionalism and commitment to duty and the nation. We recall with nostalgia efforts spearheaded by Chikwe during the most difficult period of the control of the Ebola and Coronavirus, when he had to deploy surge teams to support the states and move materials to sub-nationals. We also recall with fondness the increase in the number of PCR Labs from 2 to over a 100 in a record time. This are monumental achievement that has written his name in gold. The PSC urges him to continue to be a good ambassador for our country at the WHO,’ Mustapha said.