By Olawale Ajimotokan
The federal government has again insisted that it is the responsibility of Nigerians travelling abroad to pay for the cost of COVID-19 test as specified by several countries.The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Mr. Boss Mustapha made the clarification yesterday when the task force addressed the media.
Although the matter is already before the Senate Joint Committee, Mustapha admitted that it would be out of place to use public funds to conduct COVID-19 test for travellers as such is not provided in the 2020 budget.
Mustapha, who is the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, estimated the figures of persons that travel out of the country at about six million yearly.
He also stated that it costs the country at N13 billion to obtain one million test kits.
‘’If you calculate that money, it is a huge amount of money and it is a matter of balance. Do we want to pass this huge expense to the public purses? Travels are leisure and private; we must share the responsibility as it is the common global practice. I don’t think the commonwealth of Nigeria should be used for that purpose.
‘’If you go the UK today and you want a test, you will pay for it. It is £250. It is $360 in Iceland; $206 in Austria and $165 in Cambodia. Several countries have set their own requirements for tests. What is provided in the budget is what will be used for the National Response. The Senate Joint Committee appreciates that and said they will engage with the ministries and the FCTA to see how they can provide responses in the 2021 budget,’’ Mustapha said.
Meanwhile, the National Coordinator on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu has said that children below the age of 10 have been excluded from undergoing PCR test if they do not require the test outside country.
While speaking at yesterday’s PTF briefing, Aliyu, however, said the exemption does not apply to foreign diplomats who are required to present their PCR Negative results at the airport and the second test seven days after arriving at the country.
Aliyu also warned against rush in the reopening of the airports because of the risk of escalation is high.