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COVID-19: Suspend your Christmas travels, PTF advises Nigerians

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The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has advised Nigerians to suspend or postpone their Christmas travels due to the risk of contracting the coronavirus.

The taskforce also warned of likely second wave of the pandemic.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation and chairman of Presidential Task Force (PTF), Boss Mustapha, warned on monday during the weekly media briefing.

“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.

“The PTF similarly finds it necessary to mention that during the Christmas and New Year festivities, large social gatherings should also be avoided because there is 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 said the curtent situation in U.S and Europe remain major sources of concern to the PTF.

Hr said, “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.”

The PTF chairman said the task force has been evaluating the compliance of Nigerians with the protocols for testing by in-bound and out-bound travellers.

He regretted the discovery that some of the travellers have indulged in presenting fake documents.

According to Mustapha: ‘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 (6%); Children: 1,248 (1.36%); Diplomats: 3,392 (3.7%); Evacuees: 830 (0.9%); Total Passengers expected to Pay: 86,052(94%); Paid: 46,982 (54.6%) ; Not Paid: 39,070(45.45%).

‘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.”

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