COVID-19 test: FG to suspend passports of errant travellers for six months

The Presidential Task Force, PTF, on  Thursday warned international travellers arriving the country to carry out COVID-19 test within 14 days of their arrival.

The National Coordinator of PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, said at the task force’s briefing in Abuja that such Nigerian travellers who failed to carry out the PCR COVID-19 test within the stipulated period would have their passports suspended for six months, while foreigners would have their visas on their way out of the country cancelled.

He explained that a passenger must have a negative PCR COVID-19 test, upload it on the prescribed portal and generate a QR Code, before departure and must pay for another test within seven days, and undergo the test within 14 days of arriving Nigeria.

He said, “We are urging passengers coming into the country to make sure they pay for their COVID-19 PCR test by day 7 of arrival. If passengers do not have a test for COVID 19 by day 14,  our system will pick up these passengers and if it is very clear they haven’t had a test for COVID 19 , the passports will be suspended  for a period of six months.

“Therefore it is really essential for non-Nigerians,  their visas on their way out of Nigeria will be cancelled. So, they might have difficulties coming to the country.”

He said although government continued “to have issues with payment” for the PCR test by arriving passengers, it would “not insist on evidence of payment before boarding, but we will be releasing a strong recommendation to airlines  that preferably people come onboard with the QR Code.”

Aliyu said it was unrealistic and unsustainable for the Federal Government to bear the cost of the PCR test for every passenger arriving the country.

He said, “Currently about 5,000 air travellers come in and out of Nigeria, and the PTF wants to ensure that we do not lose the gains made in the response.

“It is therefore critical that passengers are tested and follow protocols correctly. When fully open, the number of passengers going through the country is not small. At the moment, our daily testing number is about two and a half thousand (2,500) per day. If we add the passenger numbers coming, potentially, we are tripling the number of tests we do every day, and that is why we have to use the private sector to get this leverage while at the same time  working to bring down the cost for passengers.

“Therefore it will it be costly and unrealistic for the Federal Government to bear the cost for  test for each passenger coming into Nigeria. This  will not only be unsustainable but will also redirect precious resources away from the public health response.”

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