COVID-19 Scare: Health Experts Raises Concerns As Nigerian Government Fails To Monitor Foreign Arrivals For Compliance | A Must Read

Experts have warned that Nigeria might experience second wave of the coronavirus global pandemic if there is no mechanism to monitor how persons arriving the country from overseas are observing the mandatory seven-day self-isolation.

This is even as Nigerians entering the country from abroad have expressed concerns for a system that they describe as being only interested in collecting money for COVID-19 tests without requisite monitoring of their need for self-isolation pending their test and release of result.

According to reports from PUNCH HealthWise, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC had advised returning passengers to proceed on a seven-day self-isolation as per protocol, and present at the designated COVID-19 sample collection sites on the seventh day of arrival.

The NCDC said positive cases will be managed based on National Guidelines for COVID-19 treatment, noting, “Passengers who test negative after seven days will end self-isolation on the eighth day.”

However, some of the arrivals who spoke to our correspondent said despite the COVID-19 tests they are required to do, and the need for self-isolation pending the test and release of results, there is no official follow-up to check if self-isolation is being observed.

Our correspondent spoke to three of such Nigerians who arrived the country from the United States of America on September 20.

Producing the result of the COVID-19 test which he did in the United States to enable him board his Nigeria-bound flight, one of the respondents, Mr. Dotun Iluyeade, who holds dual citizenship of Nigeria and the United States, said he had also completed the passenger pre-boarding health declaration and screening form, which he downloaded and produced on arrival in Nigeria.

“As soon as I and other passengers disembarked, we were made to pay for our already scheduled COVID-19 test.

“I paid N51,950 (fifty-one thousand, nine hundred and fifty naira only), and a printout showed that I paid into a Sterling Bank account of Carter Biggs Investments Limited,”

Iluyeade said.

A check on the website of Carter Biggs Investments Limited shows that it was incorporated in 2009 as an investment company in Nigeria, “offering its clients integrated investment solutions in financial investment and management, trading, marketing, consultancy and advisory services,” alongside foreign and local partners.

Iluyeade said after the payment at the port of entry, he was advised to expect an email within seven days, which will inform him as to where he could have his COVID-19 test done.

His test was finally scheduled for October 2, he told PUNCH correspondent at a relative’s house in Lagos, where he was on a short visit.

Asked if he had been contacted by government since he arrived or if he had received any communication (email, text message or Whatsapp) on the need for self-isolation, he said there was no advice to that effect.

“Once you paid the requisite testing fee, you are released to go. Those who were unable to pay for the COVID-19 tests were delayed, while the rest of us went our different ways,”

Iluyeade said.

Two other respondents, one Immanuel; and Mrs. Iyabo Demuren-Ali, spoke in the same vein. As of last Sunday, Immanuel and Demuren Ali said they were waiting for their own invitations for COVID-19 test.

Recently, the Lagos State Ministry of Health, via its verified Twitter handle @LSMOH, advised those who are entering Nigeria from overseas.

SEE ALSO: Abuja-based Lawyer, Ojo Damilare Who Survived The Dreaded COVID-19 Infection Wants Others To Know These

In a series of tweets, it advised:

“On arrival, passengers must self-isolate and present self at approved testing centres for #COVID19 PCR test seven days after.

“Passengers must thereafter continue to self-isolate by strictly observing #PhysicalDistancing and #SocialDistancing principles until they receive the #COVID19 test results.

“Passenger may reunite with the society if the #COVID19 test result is negative. However, if test result is positive, passengers should continue to self-isolate for another seven days and call 08000EKOMED=08000356633 or 08000CORONA = 08000267662 for follow up.”

On its own, the NCDC noted that the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 had released a provisional quarantine protocol for all returning travellers to Nigeria, effective from the 5th of September.

The protocols states ,

“Returning passengers must proceed on a seven-day self-isolation as per protocol and present at the designated sample collection sites on the seventh day of arrival.

“Positive cases will be managed based on National Guidelines for COVID-19 treatment. Passengers who test negative after seven days will end self-isolation on the eighth day.”

The advice did not state how foreign arrivals will be monitored for the mandatory seven-day self-isolation.

Meanwhile, President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Prof. Innocent Ujah; and the President of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, Dr. Okhuaihesuyi Uyilawa, both condemned the situation, saying it might lead to unintentional spread of the pandemic in the country.

Speaking to our correspondent on the unrestricted entry after payment for COVID-19 tests that are never done on the spot, Uyilawa said,

“When people don’t follow the seven-day self-isolation as per protocol, the community is at risk if they are infected by any chance and they will infect other people.

“There might be a second wave of the viral infection and that is what we should be scared of.”

Continuing, the NARD leader said,

“The government should be more sensitive about the protocol for COVID-19 and mostly with our land borders.

“The government should have specialised people that go to test regularly, isolate them in a place where they will not be exposed to other people until they are certified negative.”

In the same vein, Ujah warned that people arriving into the country must be encouraged to follow the COVID-19 protocol because it is a risk to the community if they don’t.

SEE ALSO: NCDC Boss, Chikwe Ihekweazu Raises Alarm Over COVID-19 Test Kits Being Sold In Black Markets

“We expect that they should take the NCDC protocol to self-isolate,” Ujah said. Continuing, the NMA president said,

“We know it is not likely to be very effective in our society.

“I have said this earlier that our culture and custom will not allow for anybody to go stay in a room and lock himself up.

“As a Nigerian and knowing the culture that we have, the issue of self-isolation may be very difficult and it is also true that because of the large number, the public sector may not be able to accommodate everybody that is coming into the quarantine centre.

“But when the person is identified to test positive for the virus, he is then isolated so that he will not infect any other person.

“But, as a person, I don’t think it is effective. We are not in Europe where you will just have one person in a room.

“Assuming in a place where they stay in areas where the apartments face each other or they live in a mini flat, you may have 10 children in a room. So, how on earth do you want to isolate?

“The truth is that when you come home, you will be welcome by your family. What measures can be taken to ensure full compliance?

“People need to be educated. The culture is in such a way that it is difficult to comply with the protocol.

“So, we need to continue to educate the community on the need for the quarantine so that the family and the community do not get infected.”

 

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