The Federal Government has imposed fresh travel requirements on passengers travelling into the country from the United Kingdom and South Africa as from Monday.
The National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, who disclosed this at the PTF’s briefing in Abuja on Thursday, said penalties, including passport or visa suspension for at least six months, would be imposed on violators.
He also said the passport numbers of the first 100 violators of international travel protocols would be published.
He said the imposition of fresh travel requirements on passengers from the two countries was due to the emergence of new strains of the virus in the UK and additional mutant of it discovered in South Africa.
He said, “There are new travelling requirements for people coming from the UK and South Africa effective from Monday, December 28, 2020.
“It is the responsibility of those passengers to make sure they familiarise themselves with these new rules, and airlines will be informed accordingly.”
He noted that international passengers were generally required to visit the Nigerian international travel portal to upload their negative COVID PCR result, generate a permit to travel document, also referred to as the QR Code, and also pay for the second PCR COVID test that would be conducted on them by their seventh day of arrival in the country.
He said, “We will open a special register at the airport for all passengers arriving from these two countries.
“We will have an enhanced surveillance so that these passengers will be contacted after they have arrived home.
“We will be checking on them to see if they are having symptoms.
“But even more importantly by Day 7, we expect these passengers, just like any other passengers coming from outside the country, to unfailingly go for COVID PCR test which you must have paid for before boarding the aircraft.”
He said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had at the meeting with the PTF members on Tuesday approved the penalties for the violators of the protocols and that special attention would be paid to “those coming from the UK and South Africa”.
He said, “If you do not do your Day 7 test by Day 10, you will automatically go on to the suspension list and your travel documents, your passport will be suspended for a minimum period of six months.
“If you carry a foreign passport with a visa, we will revoke your visa. And because it is easier to track a smaller group of persons than a large number of passengers which has always been the challenge that we have, we are now able to enforce this specifically for passengers coming from these routes until further notice.”
He said the same penalties would be meted out to “people presenting fake PCR results at our airports when exiting or if they have found to have presented a fake COVID 19 PCR result on arrival”.
On the publication of the list of the passport numbers of violators of the protocols, Aliyu said, “In addition to this, over this weekend we will publish the first list of 100 Nigerian passport numbers that will be suspended for six months.
“We have already contacted the passengers and we have confirmed that they have not had their COVID PCR test.
“We will not be publishing names but we will publish the passport numbers and we asking from now on, people that are travelling should make sure they abide by our protocols because there will be repercussions if you don’t in terms of penalties.”
Aliyu warned against non-essential movements and discouraged those of age 60 and above from joining large crowds.
He disclosed that the Abuja treatment centres were fast filling up.
He advised schools to delay reopening till at least January 18, 2021.
FG blames international travellers for worsen cases
The Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, raised the alarm that international air travellers are worsening the spread of the virus.
According to him, on Wednesday, Nigeria recorded 1,133 confirmed cases and five deaths bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Nigeria to 80, 922 from 912,114 samples tested, while 1,236 people had lost their lives to the disease.
Mamora said, “We are also recording an increase in the number of passengers coming into the country. Last week, the number of inbound passengers increased to 20,208 against 15,805 the previous week.
“About 270 passengers tested positive after 7 days against 129 the week before. This represents more than 100 per cent increase from the previous week.
Our record shows that only about 60 per cent of those due for testing present themselves for test. The implication of this is that many who have the virus could spread it in the community without knowing it.”
We’re studying new virus strain’
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the PTF, Boss Mustapha, said the government was aware of the new and deadly strain of the virus and would take appropriate measures to contain its spread.
“He said, “The PTF is aware of the global conversation on the new strain of virus discovered in the UK. We had assured Nigerians that our experts working with the WHO are studying the variant strain and shall make a statement at the appropriate time. As we make progress on this Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions+ Vaccines phase, I urge the state governments not to close down their treatment centres.”