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COVID-19: PTF advises Nigerians to suspend Christmas travels



The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has warned that a second wave of the pandemic was very much likely, advising Nigerians to suspend their Christmas travels due to the risk of contracting the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the PTF, Mr Boss Mustapha, gave the warning on Monday at the National briefing on COVID-19, in Abuja.

“Ahead of the upsurge in travels for the Christmas and New Year festivities, we urge strongly that for this year, such trips should be put on hold firmly because of the risks involved. The transmission rate has simply become astronomical,’ he said.

Mustapha said that similarly the PTF found it necessary to mention that during the Christmas and New Year festivities, large social gatherings should also be avoided because there was a bigger risk of COVID-19 transmission.

“New clusters of cases can emerge in places that have so far been unaffected as people travel and gather for festivities. But we can lower the risks by adhering to the NPIs (Non-Pharmaceutical measures) and celebrate, safely.

“There will always be many more festive seasons to celebrate,” he noted.

The SGF stressed that the development in the country and around the world particularly in the U.S. and in Europe remained a major source of concern to the PTF.

According to him, this is particularly so because our risk perception is low in-country; our compliance with Non-Pharmaceutical measures is extremely low to the extent that Nigerians now think COVID-19 is no more; the response of citizens to testing and detection is very low.

The risk of importation will be higher with the opening of our airspace; and the numbers in Nigeria, though appearing low over the last two weeks, has been rising gradually.

He, however, said the task force had been evaluating the compliance level of Nigerians with the protocols for testing by in-bound and out-bound travellers.

Mustapha regretted the discovery that some of the travellers had indulged in presenting fake documents.

“Some, that have paid for post arrival testing have failed to show up for the tests.

“Statistics show the following as at 9/11/2020: Total No of bookings: 91,522; Total No of passengers exempted: 5,470 (6per cent); Children: 1,248 (1.36 per cent); Diplomats: 3,392 (3.7 per cent); Evacuees: 830 (0.9 per cent); Total Passengers expected to Pay: 86,052(94 per cent); Paid: 46,982 (54.6 per cent) ; Not Paid: 39,070(45.45 per cent).

“Travellers that have arrived in-country but have not paid (approximately 39,000); Amount paid to private labs by passengers who have refused to take the post-arrival 7-day test: N220 – 270 million.

“The PTF is concluding steps to work with relevant institutions and legal authorities to impose appropriate sanctions on those that default on the protocols. The Port Health Services will elaborate more on this,” he stressed.

Abujah Racheal

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