From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Embarrassed by the rollout of fake COVID-19 results both in Nigeria and other countries, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Monday, said it will roll out verification platform next week to check the originality of results from anywhere in the world.
The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, made the disclosure Monday at the PTF media briefing.
The Director-General also called on all private laboratories, conducting COVID-19 test to join the platform in order to have their data checked and properly managed, or risks losing their COVID-19 test right.
Ihekweazu also said Nigeria has now recorded 29 cases of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19, with results coming from different states.
He also said in order to have more access to Nigerians, the NCDC has introduced another code, 6232.
Ihekweazu said with the dialling of 6232, an agent of the NCDC will always be handy to assist with any information.
The National Incident Manager for the PTF, Mukhtar Mohammed, reiterated that inbound passengers that have continued to flagrantly disobey COVID-19 protocols, will be apprehended, quarantine them at their own expense while results of their PCR tests.
‘We intend to apply the full force of the law over such violators which include fines and imprisonment. Our aim is not to witch-hunt or punish anyone but just to ensure people travel safely and when they return to the country that they do not constitute their loved ones and their community.
‘The PTF is aware of the report of syndicates at some international airports outside Nigeria, who specialize in providing fake results to innocent Nigerians who are travelling back home. While investigating the matter and working on its relevant authorities including the countries in which these syndicates operate to make sure that these guys are nipped in the bud, I will like to reiterate that it is the responsibility of any passenger returning to Nigeria, to ensure that they are tested before they start returning. You cannot be given a negative result when you samples have not to be taken, please understand this and comply.
‘It is important to note that on arrival here, if you have a fake result, you will be quarantined in any of our facilities and you will bear the expenses of the facility, feeding and the lab test and after that, you are also liable to prosecution.
‘Still, on travel protocol, we received reports of technical challenges experienced by people returning to the country, we have set up a backup Manuel process and communicated same to all relevant stakeholders including the airlines, ministry health and other embassies. These are technical challenges that are bound to occur from time to time but we believe that our technical team will be up to speed and resolve these issues as soon as they occur and that the backup system will also operate as an alternative to the internet platform.
‘The PTF has granted waivers to some ministries, department and agencies to conduct staff exams to fill existing vacancies in various locations across the country. We have communicated to the relevant ministries that COVID-19 protocols must be observed in these centres with particular emphasis on hall capacities and enforcement of non-pharmaceutical interventions. State authorities and Security agencies should help monitor and enforce compliance in the various states.’