FG worries about absconding of passengers from high-risk countries

The Federal Government has decried the trend where quarantined passengers from high-risk countries like India, Turkey, and Brazil violate health protocols. It warned that Nigeria is at increased risk if people continue to neglect public health protocols at the nation’s points of entry.

This came as the country recorded 10 cases of the more virulent Delta variant of COVID-19. Also, the government is pushing to have a manufacturing site for the COVID-19 vaccine in the country and is currently working with a company.

Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who made the disclosure in Abuja, yesterday, said the Federal Ministry of Health Point of Entry (PoE) pillar of the COVID-91 response has been continuously monitoring passenger arrivals, especially from high-risk countries like India, Turkey, and Brazil. He said the process has been arduous, given that port health staff continue to report a trend of absconding by quarantined passengers.

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He cautioned all travelers to comply with port health staff or risk sanctions, including prosecution.

Ehanire lamented that the world has witnessed an increase in reported cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours in a significant number of countries, due to the high transmissibility of the Delta Variant. He said this threat includes importation from countries that are popular travel destinations for Nigerians including the United Kingdom, United States, UAE, France, and Turkey, which have a high incidence of the virulent strain.

He said: “As of July 25, 2021, we have confirmed a total of 170,895 COVID-19 cases and 2,132 fatalities. There are 4,180 active cases across the country, including 216 new cases recorded in the last 24 hours from seven states; 108 cases from Lagos State, 96 cases from Akwa Ibom state, four from Oyo, three from Rivers, two from Edo, and one each from Ekiti and Kano States.

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“It is worrisome that despite evidence of the emergence of a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, citizens continue to refuse adherence to public health advisories.”

The severity of this disease should not be disregarded, as it is still a primary cause of concern, even in countries with stronger health systems. COVID-19 treatment bed occupancy is also recording an increase, given the emergence of a third wave.”

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He added: “On our push for COVID-19 vaccine sufficiency, we are expecting over 29 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines purchased by the Government of Nigeria through the African Union AVATT facility; and over 4 million Moderna and almost 700 thousand AstraZeneca vaccines through the COVAX facility from bilateral donations from the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom; as well as Pfizer and Sinopharm from both bilateral agreements and through the COVAX facility.”

On the plan to have a COVID-19 vaccine-manufacturing site in Nigerian, the minister said: “We are working with a company where the Federal Government owns 49 per cent equity.”

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