Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidential Task Force on Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on Tuesday raised alarm over failure of some Nigerians who arrived from abroad to present themselves for the in-country Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test which they signed up to and paid before arrival.
It has therefore, resolved to revoke passports of travellers that fail to conduct the mandatory COVID-19 PCR test.
According to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and chairman of PTF, Boss Mustapha, at Tuesday’s media briefing by the Task Force, only one out of three Nigerians who arrive have complied.
Recalled that as of September 18, the Government of Nigeria had announced that it requires a negative COVID-19 PCR test within five days (120 hours) before departure.
The PTF had also in September said while Nigerians will get six- month passport suspension, foreigners face outright visa cancellation.
The PTF had said Nigeria placed travel bans as part of the global lockdown measures to contain the spread of the pandemic in March 2020.
It had stressed that it was mandatory that travellers have the PCR test done on day 7th upon arrival.
It had also said all returning travelers to Nigeria must have tested negative for COVID-19 through polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing in the country of departure. The PCR test must now be administered no more than 120 hours before departure.
Nigeria resumed International flights on the 5th of September and the update followed the announcement by Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA,) that the maximum number of passengers of each incoming international flight must be 200 passengers.
According to the SGF “The PTF is highlighting these issues repeatedly because we remain at risk of importation, having opened our airspace and massive spread as a result of the protests. The next week or two remain critical. The PTF has noted with sadness the failure of Nigerians who arrived from abroad to present themselves for the in-country PCR test which they signed up to and paid before arrival. Statistics emerging from our records show that only one out of three passengers have shown up for the in-country test.
“As you may recall, the PTF announced the guidelines on the reopening of the airspace and the obligations of arriving passengers. The PTF similarly announced sanctions as a consequence of any infraction. Having observed serious non-compliance to the level of 65 percent, the need has arisen to activate the sanctions which includes the suspension of the passports of such defaulting individuals for a period of six months minimum. The National Coordinator will elaborate further on this.”
Mustapha said as part of the strategy of the PTF to deepen community engagement, he addressed an emergency session of the National Executive Committee of the National Council of Traditional Rulers Tuesday.
He noted that: “The contributions of our traditional rulers to the successes so far recorded in the National Response can not be overemphasized. Accordingly, I acknowledged and thanked all our traditional rulers for their support and urged them to continue to do more especially in the areas of risk communication and community engagement. Adherence to the Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions measures and the need for people to come out for testing were emphasized.
“Finally, I wish to inform you that the PTF has revised its meeting and briefing frequency to once a week, to allow members carry out other functions and activities. This does not preclude the need to call for emergency meetings and briefings when the need arises. With effect from Thursday, 5th November, 2020 therefore, the national briefing will only hold once, weekly.”