NIGERIAN health officials have declared 89 people persons of interest and has threatened sanctions against them for violating coronavirus protocols after they arrived in the country from abroad and refused to go into quarantine.
On May 10, the federal government announced another phase of restrictions in addition to the existing ones that make it mandatory for all visitors from abroad to go into 10 days of isolation. However, 27 foreigners and 62 Nigerians who recently returned from countries with high incidence of Covid-19 have refused to comply with these directives and now face the wrath of the authorities.
Boss Mustapha, the secretary to the federal government and chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on Covid-19, said that it had on May 1 issued a Travel Advisory for passengers arriving from Brazil, India and Turkey. He explained that such precautionary measures were necessary to mitigate the risk of importation of variants and break the chain of transmission to the population.
Under the new measures, passengers arriving from or who have visited any of the three countries within 14 days prior to their visit to Nigeria, are required to follow mandatory arrival quarantine and testing protocols in designated facilities. As these new arrivals failed to abide by the guidelines, they face the prospect of prosecution or being fined.
A PSC spokesman said: “The Presidential Steering Committee has however observed that while most of the arriving passengers dutifully observed the guidelines, some Nigerians and foreigners have violated them in contravention of the provisions of the Coronavirus Health Protection Regulations 2021. They have been declared persons of interest on account of posing considerable danger to overall public health and for the violation of Nigeria Covid-19 travel protocol by evading the mandatory seven-day quarantine for persons arriving from restricted countries.”
While 26 of the foreigners are Indian nationals, one is a Dane. All the affected persons arrived in Nigeria between 8th May 2021 and 15th May 2021 through the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
“Members of the public are by this notice advised that these persons of interest constitute an immediate health hazard to the society. They must therefore transport themselves safely to the nearest state public health departments within 48hrs of this notice for immediate evaluation and call the Port Health Services, Federal Ministry of Health on 08036134672 or 08032461990 for further directions.
“The PSC shall in addition, take further steps to sanction these violators. These steps include disabling their travel passports for a period not less than one year, the cancelation of visas/ permits of foreigners that have abused our hospitality and prosecution under the 2021 Health Protection Regulations. An additional list of Batch II defaulters shall be published in subsequent announcement by the PSC,” the PSC spokesman added.