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COVID-19 resurgence: Nigeria to screen travellers from other countries

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The Federal Ministry of Health has said that it will screen passengers coming into the country, using Rapid Diagnostic Test (RTD).

This is as the Federal Government assured that it is maintaining vigilance and a high level of preparedness at the nation’s entry points to prevent a fresh outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.

On Friday, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) reported 13 new laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Lagos and Edo States with Lagos having 12 infections. The cases were reported between 31st December and 6th January.

That increased the total number of confirmed cases of the disease across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory to 266,463, with 3,155 deaths, while 259,850 cases have been discharged.

The Director of Port Health Services, Dr Geoffrey Okatubo said on Monday during Monday’s Ministerial bi-weekly meeting on the update of COVID-19 response and developments in the country’s health sector that positive cases would be quarantined and all negative cases monitored.

He said that the Federal Government was undertaking other measures as well to keep the COVID-19 situation under control.

“COVID-19 self-tests (RTD) will be handed out at all our international airports, land and sea borders, while travellers will also be informed on the importance of measures that they can take to prevent being infected”, he said.

He acknowledged that some people had experienced difficulties with the travel portal, noting that the health declaration certificate could also be filled out on arrival.

Okatubo said that the health certificate form was also available at the country’s land borders, and that it was compulsory.

“The health declaration is being done by the Port Health officers at the border”, he disclosed.

He said that completing the health declaration was good for the country if the citizens understood the advantages, part of which he said was to protect everyone, and was also an international health regulation.

At the briefing, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire said that the ministry has met with the World Health Organisation and the Embassy of China to review the resurgence of COVID-19 in China.

China experienced a resurgence of infection following the relaxation of the country’s “Zero-COVID” policy, as well as significantly increased COVID-19 cases, admissions, and deaths in the United Kingdom and the United States over the past weeks, driven partly by the usual winter exacerbations of respiratory illnesses.

Ehanire said: “My ministry has been having discussions with the World Health Organisation with the senior officials of the ministry, and we have had technical sessions to do a situation review.

“The observed increase in the number of cases in China, the USA, and Europe is seasonal, and it is not unexpected during the winter.

“So, the recent relaxation also affects the rise in cases with the removal of travel restrictions.

“From what you know so far, it’s not that there is a new variant, but there are sub-variants, and they are different.

“The ministry of health will continue to maintain vigilance and a high level of preparedness, especially at our points of entry.

“The Ministry of Health will not hesitate to take necessary action.”

The minister advised Nigerians to take the necessary precautions, get vaccinated, and use facemasks when necessary.

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