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Minister laments continuous violation of COVID-19 protocols at Airports, others

Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire on Monday lamented the violation of COVID-19 protocols by travelers at Airports and other points of entry, despite the spread of the deadly delta strain.

Ehanire also decried that despite evidence of the emergence of a third wave in the country, passengers are absconding quarantine at all points of entry.

The minister also expressed concerns that citizens have refused to adhere to public health advisories, even as treatment bed occupancy is recording an increase.

Ehanire, speaking at a virtual press conference in Abuja, warned that Nigeria is at risk of recording high incidences of the variant.

Ehanire expressed this concern while noting that countries that are popular travel destinations for Nigerians, including the United Kingdom, United States, UAE, France and Turkey, have high incidence of this virulent strain.

He said, “Nigeria is at increased risk if we continue to neglect public health protocols placed at points of entry, which are our first line of defence and a critical point of concern.

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“It is worrisome that despite evidence of the emergence of a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, citizens continue to refuse adherence to public health advisories.

“The Federal Ministry of Health Point of Entry (PoE) pillar of the COVID-19 response has been continuously monitoring passenger arrivals especially from high-risk countries like India, Turkey, and Brazil. This process has been an arduous one given that port health staff have continued to report a trend of abscondment by quarantined passengers, an act detrimental to our pandemic response and public health safety.

“The severity of this disease should NOT be disregarded as it is still a primary cause of concern, even in countries with stronger health systems.”

Hr therefore tasked all persons to comply with our Port Health staff or risk facing sanctions, including prosecution.

“Non-compliance with their directives constitutes a risk to national health security and will be handled with commensurate severity”, Ehanire warned.

“I wish to re-emphasise that we must fervently avoid complacency and continue to abide by the given Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions.

“Remember that Nigeria is a well-traversed country and is susceptible to further importation of the virus, especially when there is clear evidence that the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has begun across the continent”, he added.

The minister further noted that in the past 24 hours, the world witnessed an increase in reported cases of COVID-19 across a significant number of countries, due to the high transmissibility of the Delta Variant.

As of 25th July 2021, Nigeria has a total of 170,895 COVID-19 cases, and 2,132 fatalities. There are 4,180 active cases across the country, including 216 new cases recorded in the last 24 hours from 7 states.

Nigeria started recording g an increase in cases after the first case of the deta strain was reported early July.

In preparation for the third wave, Ehanire said the federal ministry of health has taken steps to urgently scale-up and enhance local oxygen capacity even before oxygen consumption increases.

He also said Nigeria has invested directly and strategically to ensuring oxygen availability to avert unforeseen incidence of oxygen insufficiency for COVID-19 patients in the country.

On COVID-19 vaccines, Ehanire restated that Nigeria is expecting over 29 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines purchased by the Government of Nigeria through the African Union AVATT facility; and over 4 million Moderna and almost 700 thousand AstraZeneca vaccines through the COVAX facility from bilateral donations from the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom; as well as Pfizer and Sinopharm from both bilateral agreements and through the COVAX facility.