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NCDC denies fraud allegations over COVID-19 test for air travelers

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has denied allegations of fraud over the COVID-19 test for air travelers saying such reports are “simply incorrect and based on information that is inconsistent with the truth.”

It is stated that “no payment is received by NCDC for any purpose, whatsoever describing “as an unfortunate misrepresentation of efforts by Government Ministries and Agencies which aimed at ensuring “safe travel in the context of a pandemic affecting every country in the world.”

In a statement made available to the media, the centre stated that the aim of the platform was to ensure safe travel in the context of COVID-19 and to reduce the risk of a spike in COVID-19 cases as international flights resume.

According to the statement, the Nigeria International Travel Portal (NITP) was launched by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF-COVID-19) with support from the Coalition Against COVID (CA-COVID) saying it is

“is currently hosted on the web portal of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and co-managed with Port Health Services of the Federal Ministry of Health and other government institutions within PTF-COVID-19.”

“The decision to make repeat tests mandatory in Nigeria was based on a review of data by NCDC and PTF-COVID-19. The goal was to find the right balance between protecting Nigeria from more infections while supporting the restart of international travel.”

The statement read in part that “From May till August 2020, evacuation and emergency flights were allowed into the country following an initial restriction on international flights.

“Of the number of people who returned to Nigeria, 5% tested positive within 14 days of arrival in Nigeria. In addition, several people flouted self-isolation guidance on return.

“Based on this data and the current capacity in Nigeria, it was decided that all travelers to Nigeria must be tested after seven days of return to the country.

“This was to enable early detection and to reduce the risk of further transmission of the disease. The NCDC has activated several public health laboratories for COVID-19 in Nigeria as at the 14th of September 2020.”

While stating that these “laboratories are for public health purposes and therefore provide testing free of charge to the public, it adds that they would ensure that the public health response “is not affected by personal requests and needs, all travel-related testing can only be carried out in private laboratories.”

“This is similar to current practice in countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, United Arab Emirates, and others. The private laboratories that provide testing for COVID-19 are commercial entities, independent of the Government of Nigeria.

“The PTF-COVID-19 has ensured that the prices indicated by these laboratories are as subsidised as possible. All payments received on the travel platform are sent directly to the laboratories where the passenger has chosen to be tested, chosen from a list of private laboratories approved for testing COVID-19 in Nigeria.

“ No payment is received by NCDC for any purpose, whatsoever. We advise that passengers should not make payments outside of the official platform.

“The NCDC COVID-19 microsite has a list of frequently asked questions and answers, for passengers who may be facing challenges with the travel portal.

“It is important to emphasize that public health laboratories in the NCDC network do not provide testing services to individuals for travel-related purposes.

“The public health laboratories provide testing free-of-charge as part of the national response. Therefore, travelers are strongly advised to only access accredited private laboratories.’’

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