20,216 Foreign Returnees Shun Covid-19 Test.

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The federal government has raised alarm that 20,216 foreign returnees have shunned the post-arrival Covid-19 test this breaching the protocols they earlier signed.

Although the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 and the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) are working to impose sanctions in the errant returnees, they may have been the reason for the alarming spike in the number of cases across the country.

It would be recalled that the PTF established the Nigeria International Travel Portal for the control of possible importation of the virus and data by the federal government show that a good percentage of in-bound travellers have breached the travel protocols thereby making surveillance and testing suffer undue setbacks.

Statistics according to the Chairman PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha show that as at date, 163,818 inbound travellers have been captured on the portal of which 77,025 representing 47 percent made payment for post arrival testing.

“64,405 or 84 percent of the number are due for post-arrival test and out of 44,189 or 69 percent that were due for post-arrival test, 44,189 representing 59 percent of those tested; and 20,216 or 31 percent have not shown up for post arrival test thereby endangering members of the community and breaching the protocols they signed up to.

​He announced that the PTF has concluded arrangements with the Nigeria Immigration Service to impose sanctions on these defaulters for breaching the public health protocols, within ambit of the law.

With the increasing number of cases, the Nigerian government may be forced to follow other countries that are closing their airports to passengers from some countries to prevent the further spread of the second wave which described as very dangerous.

The PTF chairman said Nigeria is surveying developments and actions taken by governments around the world, assessed our domestic environment and has accordingly submitted its recommendations to Mr. President on immediate measures to be taken.

The number of cases in Nigeria has alarmingly increased and Lagos, Kaduna and the FCT have emerged as the new epicentres in the past one month, accounting for over 70 percent of all confirmed cases.

Two major indicators according to the PTF highlight the current increase in cases and transmission across Nigeria and they are that the number of cases being reported are disproportionately higher. For example, in the FCT, despite recording an increase of 85 percent in tests conducted over the last week, the number of confirmed cases increased by 285 percent during the same time period and the higher Test Positivity Rate (TPR- the number of positive cases detected as a proportion of all tests). The TPR was below 5 percent through September and October during which a low point of 3 percent was recorded nationally in late October 2020. However, recent trends in cases has seen this number increase to 10 percent in the second week of December.

The PTF noted that the high numbers are further reflected in the increase of admissions to COVID-19 treatment centres and fatalities, particularly in the three epicentre states.

The result of the analysis carried out by the PTF further indicate that the current pattern of spread, and the surge is likely to be driven by the lack of compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions – particularly the disregard for mask use in public, large gatherings as a result of events linked to the yuletide season and recent civil demonstrations.

Further disregard for other public health preventive measures, such as hand hygiene and physical distance requirements are also reasons for the increase in number of cases.

The activities and assumptions of our youthful population has also resulted in an increase in the infection rate among young people, who are subsequently infecting older and more vulnerable family members.

PTF assessment shows the current situation is clearly the consequences of certain occurrences and events of the last few weeks which include sudden increase in social gatherings involving large congregations from different parts of the country, and the world, at events such as weddings, religious activities, political rallies, conferences and end of year celebrations that are classified globally as ‘supers-spreader events’, make the risk of a single infection causing a large outbreak among attendees significantly higher.

Reopening of the economy has also brought about increased economic, social and religious gatherings and activities all of which have combined to play a part in viral transmissions.

It would be recalled that the international airspace was reopened in September 2020 and the average number of daily imported infections into the country in the last 90 days is estimated to be about seven cases, compared to 100-150 reported new infections in the community since the beginning of community transmission, showing that the test positivity rate in travellers arriving Lagos has recently doubled to 6.3 percent.

Outbreaks were also reportedwith the resumption of schools following the resumption of physical classes and the
resumption of NYSC orientation camps though all NYSC members were screened for COVID-19 prior to admission to camp to mitigate the risk, PTF however noted confirmed cases through tests that were carried out.

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