The Federal Government will on Wednesday begin contact tracing of 90 international travellers, who violated the COVID-19 Health Regulations Protection, 2021.
The spokesman for the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Mr Willie Bassey, gave this indication in an interview with one of our correspondents on Monday.
India, Brazil and Turkey have been witnessing rapid spread of a devastating strain of COVID-19, which has stretched health systems in the countries.
For example, The Times of India on Monday reported that India had 2,22,315 new COVID-19 cases, taking the country’s total cases to 2,67,52,447.
On May 10, the Federal Government issued a travel advisory for passengers arriving in Nigeria from Brazil, India and Turkey.
Under the new measures, passengers arriving from/or that have visited any of these three countries within 14 days prior to the visit to Nigeria, are required to follow mandatory arrival quarantine and testing protocols in designated facilities.
But in a statement on Sunday, the PSC said some travellers had been evading the mandatory seven-day quarantine for persons arriving from restricted countries.
On Monday, one of our correspondents asked the PSC spokesman, Bassey, how the Federal Government planned to trace the affected persons and if they did not leave their addresses.
But Bassey said the government was in possession of the affected persons’ addresses.
He said the Federal Government would do all possible to trace them but would need the support of state governments.
He also said the affected persons were not declared wanted but were declared persons of interest because of the potential danger they pose to the society.
Bassey said, “They are persons of interest and that is why we published their names.
“We have given them 48 hours to report themselves, failure to do so will result to sanctions. We really mean business. We are serious about it.
“We have their addresses; the plan is to do contact tracing and be sure they are free from the virus so they don’t infect others.
“They are not to be addressed as ‘wanted’, they are simply persons of interest to the Federal Government.
“State governments are also enjoined to work alongside so that we fish them out easily.”
When asked the types of sanctions the government plans for the defaulters, Bassey referred one of our correspondents to the statement released on Sunday on the matter.
The PSC had in the statement said it would some additional steps to sanction the listed violators.
He listed the sanctions to include disabling their travel passports for a period not less than one year; cancelation of visas/ permits of foreigners that have abused the country’s hospitality; and prosecution under the 2021 Health Protection Regulations.
He had promised to publish an additional list of Batch II defaulters later.
Lagos joins hunt for 90 travellers, asks residents not to panic
The Lagos State Government on its part asked residents not to panic over the 90 travellers.
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotosho, said the state had set machinery in motion to track the travellers.
Omotosho, who spoke to one of our correspondents on the telephone on Monday, said the state government was making moves to address the situation.
He said, “The Federal Government beefed up security at the airport and decided that people coming in from Turkey, Brazil, India, where the new variant of COVID-19 is coming from, observe the seven-day isolation. The state government, being in support of this, provided personnel and equipment to ensure we don’t make any mistake that can cause another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are currently tracking the people declared persons of interest by the Federal Government. I am also happy to announce that there are many others who are observing the protocols and are under isolation; they are being supervised by our medical officials.
“I don’t have an idea (how the foreigners beat the security system), but you know people do things to break the law. But it is no longer business as usual. We have technology in place to track such people and monitor their passports and movements. Once you are on the database, there is no way you can escape the isolation and if you do that, there is a way of tracking you and as it is now, people can get punished for doing that.” ,,