The Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 Pandemic announced on Monday that it would proceed to deactivate the international passports of Nigerians who flouted the 2021 Health Safety Regulations as its concerns travel advisory.
The committee had already published the names of 220 violators who evaded prescribed protocols on their return to the country from India, Brazil and Turkey where there are still high cases of confirmed coronavirus.
Speaking at the media briefing of the committee in Abuja, the Chairman of PSC and Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, assured that the federal government would enforce penalties including the deactivation of violators’ passports for a period of one year.
He said foreigners involved in the violation would have their visas revoked and prosecution, where applicable, would be an option.
He stated: “Pursuant to the travel advisory issued, I wish to inform you that the PSC has initiated series of sanctions against those that have violated the 2021 Health Safety Regulations.
“To this end, the PSC has published the names and particulars of over two hundred violators that evaded the quarantine requirement.
“This is considered a serious infraction and the PSC will proceed to do the following: deactivate the passports of Nigerians involved, for a period of not less than one year; revoke the visas of foreigners that have abused our hospitality; and prosecute the violators where necessary.”
The PSC boss also explained that the country would be vigilant on the national response process to prevent an outbreak of a third wave, charging all Nigerians to continue to take responsibility by continuing to observe the non-pharmaceutical interventions.
He added: “The PSC, therefore, appeals to all Nigerians to continue to observe the non-pharmaceutical interventions diligently. Similarly, Nigerians must eschew sentiments by ensuring that friends, relations and associates arriving from countries of concern and indeed all countries obey the quarantine and post-arrival protocols. It is our duty to make sure this occurs.
“Nigeria will continue to monitor the unfolding events and will deal with them as applicable. Nigeria cannot afford a third wave and thus will do everything to protect our territory.
“In the next couple of weeks, the PSC will focus on three major things, increase testing especially in the states; increase Oxygen reserve capacity in case there is a third wave and increase vaccine acquisition drive.
“While we watch and study developments around the world, we must continue to disseminate the messages of compliance with the protocols prescribed and to get vaccinated when the opportunity arises.
“The philosophy is for us to keep out the virus as much as possible. India is still quite high in a number of cases and in the last week, the numbers in Africa experienced a spike, especially in South Africa.”
On the face-off between the country and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) flight restrictions, he said Nigeria is still in talks with the authorities, assuring that the outcome of the parley would be in the interest of the country.
Mustapha explained: “For some time now, Nigeria has been discussing with the authorities of the United Arab Emirates on the resumption of flights between the two countries.
“The PSC will urge the United Arab Emirates to remove the country-specific and discriminatory practices against Nigeria. Discussions are however ongoing and we can assure Nigerians that the outcome will be in the interest of the country.”
Speaking on vaccination statistics, Mustapha said that about two million Nigerians have so far been vaccinated, adding that much progress had been recorded in the campaign against vaccine hesitancy in the country.
He further said: “Some twelve weeks ago, the NPHCDA commenced the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine across the nation with about 2million persons vaccinated so far.
“We have since then intensified the creation of awareness to achieve a reduction of vaccine hesitancy and encourage all eligible persons to come out and take their second dose.
“Over the weekend, His Excellencies, the President and the Vice President received their second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Today, members of the PSC will receive their second dose during this briefing. This transparency is to underscore the safety of the vaccine.”
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