Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The National Coordinator of Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, has advised schools to send home any child with respiratory symptoms consistent with coronavirus in order to reduce risk of transmission.
‘Following some of the issues we had with Lagos State with outbreaks in some of the schools, we will like to re-emphasis adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions by schools and in particular screening and heightened awareness with regards to COVID-19,’ Dr Aliyu said on Monday.
‘Any student presenting with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 particularly respiratory symptoms or fever should not be allowed to come to school.
‘When teachers noticed a child with respiratory symptoms, the child should be sent back home, so that we can reduce the risk of transmission. Just as it is important for the need to communicate effectively with parents, staff, school health teams and creating protocols and providing regular updates on any changes to the school procedures as it relates to COVID.
‘We encourage schools to continue to consider creative solutions to abide by our COVID guidelines including staggered learning to avoid overcrowding, Platooning, daily attendance and adjusting teachings, etc.’
He said 60 per cent of inbound travellers who paid for the compulsory PCR test but fail to turn up for the test seven days after arriving the country would be restricted from travelling for the next six months.
‘I want to raise the issue of international travels. As we are aware we are approaching a very busy season, where we see a surge in passenger travel. The aim of the PTF over the next few weeks is to discourage travel, especially non-essential travel. We want to flatten that surge in passenger travel that we see every year around December. Why? Because of COVID-19. COVID-19 has changed the world, the way we interact, the way we deliver our services and it has to change the way we travel as well.
‘We are actively discouraging non-essential travels. Essential travels is if you have to travel for study, work purposes, humanitarian services, travel to support critical infrastructure, economic services and maintaining supply chain arrangements. Outside this, if you do not need to travel, please stay where you are over this period.
‘At the moment, we are seeing a lot of travel restrictions going on in Europe and other places, if numbers continue to increase and we notice importation of infections, we will review our policy. I am not saying we will ban flights but I am also saying that we will do everything necessary to protect ourselves from a surge.
‘So, if you don’t want to be stranded whether in Nigeria or outside the country, think again about travelling over this period. If it is not essential, stay put. There will be other seasons, there will be other celebrations especially with vaccines now being available across the board it is very likely that travels will be sorted, so all the testing and monitoring will go away. Once we have effective vaccines, I am sure the travelling community will soon be imposing rules on the need for vaccination, so once you are vaccinated it’s very unlikely that there will be restrictions. So all these inconveniences are for a short period of time.
‘In terms of assurances we want to give the country, Nigeria has one of the most strict systems in terms of double testing. You have to do a PVR test not more than five days before boarding and you have to repeat the test on day seven. When it comes to COVID test, not more than five days before boarding for Nigeria and you have to repeat the test after seven days.
‘We have been doing this for a number of passengers as explained by the chairman earlier. But 60 per cent of those that paid did not even turn up on day seven. You give out your money, pay for a service but you don’t even show up. So, we are not interested in the money because nothing comes to PTF, NCDC, or any federal parastatal if you pay for the test.
‘The money goes to the laboratories and a small percentage goes to the state governments as well as banks that run the portal. So, we are not interested in your money; what we are interested in is your status of your COVID-19 when you come into the country.
‘Do you have COVID-19? If you do we have to take measures to isolate you and we have to protect our population. If you have COVID-19 you exit from quarantine at day seven.
‘We are going to enforce this over the coming days. We have now got the list of the first 300 passengers that have not done the test up to day 14, we are going to streamline these results and create a COVID-19 restriction list for passengers that have not abided by our protocols and these passengers will not be allowed to fly for a period of six months. We hope that we don’t have to continue doing this and people will continue to comply with our protocol.
‘As I said, this is a short time measure, even the testing itself is a short time measure. Eventually, all this testing for travel purposes will stop as soon as we have an alternative that is safe such as vaccines.
‘So, the message is: stay home, it is the best way to protect yourselves and others and please don’t play Russian roulette with your family members.’