FG Mulls Six-month Travel Ban on Passengers without COVID-19 Result

Dr. Aliyu Sani

Olawale Ajimotokan and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The federal government has vowed to impose stiff sanctions, including suspension from all travels for up to six months or denial of foreign travels for all passengers who arrive the country without COVID-19 result.

The government has also confirmed that the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in the country in the past three weeks has dropped.

The National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 , Dr. Sani Aliyu, made the threat at the briefing of the PTF in Abuja yesterday.

He explained that the protocols were in place for the reopening of international airspace in manner that will guarantee the safety of international travellers from September 5.

He reiterated that airlines that allow passengers without the PCR result to board will be sanctioned when they arrive the country, while the details of passengers that decline to do the test after day seven and up till day 14 will be forwarded to the immigration service and the Department of State Services (DSS) for appropriate action.

Aliyu said all intending travellers to Nigeria must present COVID-19 negative results that must be done by a certified laboratory 48 hours before boarding.

He also warned that passengers with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 will not be allowed to board even if their PCR result is negative.

Passengers, according to him, will then self-isolate for seven days after leaving the airport , and after the seventh day, they will present themselves to the sample collection centre to confirm their status.

‘’You will exit self-isolation if your result is negative. At the moment we don’t have the infrastructure at the airport to commence testing but we hope in the coming months we will be able to make suitable arrangements and we might even have rapid diagnostic tests that will allow us to have real time access to results straightaway,’’ Aliyu said.

The federal government has also confirmed that the exiting secondary students who tested positive for COVID-19 have resumed classes having now tested negative for the virus and discharged from treatment centres.

The Minister of State for Education, Mr. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba made the disclosure while giving updates at the PTF briefing.

Nwajiuba revealed that four of the students were from from Gombe State, one from Kwara State and three from Bayelsa State.

He also said discussion was ongoing regarding the reopening of tertiary institutions, stressing that they have received feedbacks from all the universities about their state of preparedness, which is being tabled before the PTF.

According to him, PTF has agreed to a framework that will allow the universities’ governing senates and proprietors to determine when it will be appropriate for them to reopen.

The federal government has also disclosed that the number of confirmed cases in the country in the past three weeks has dropped.

This assertion was made by the Chairman of the PTF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, during the briefing.

Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), further stated that the last seven days also showed a consistently greater number of discharged patients than confirmed cases.

He, however, urged the public not to relent by believing that virus is over, premising the position on the fact that in spite of the enhanced testing capacity, the number of samples collected for testing was not encouraging.

He also attributed the gradual shift to Plateau State as the new country’s new virus hotspot to increased testing by citizens of the state.

Mustapha said the PTF intended to submit the Seventh Interim Report to President Muhammadu Buhari and would be guided by his directives on the next phase.

He said the decisions and approval would be transmitted at the national briefing on Thursday, September, 3, 2020.

He also said resources received from countries and donor partners have gone to most of states totaling N100 million to set up their operational centres and structures to drive the national response while the federal government has in the 2020 revised budget made provision for N1 billion to 32 states.

Speaking at the media briefing, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said that the country was beginning to see a situation where the number of those treated and discharged exceeds the number of positive cases detected.

“We are beginning to see a situation where the number of those treated and discharged exceeds the number of positive cases detected. While these figures may seem reassuring, they may be deceptive, and we cannot assume that the curve is flattening, since we are yet to perfect due diligence on our side,” he said.