International travellers have been presenting fake COVID-19 test results to Nigeria

09/16/2020 | Pulse Nigeria | Jude Egbas
President Muhammadu Buhari; Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari and Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu. [Twitter/@BashirAhmaad]

Passengers have been testing positive after displaying negative test results.

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has raised the alarm that international travellers from some specific countries have been gaming the system.

The federal government had announced that one of the protocols to be obeyed as Nigeria reopens its airspace following COVID-19 induced restrictions, is that all inbound passengers should undergo COVID-19 tests, 72 hours before arrival in Nigeria.

This test result must be negative, the protocol also states.

However, the national coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, says some of the test results presented on arrival in the country simply do not add up.

According to Aliyu, some travellers who arrived in the country with negative COVID-19 test results were later found to be COVID-19 positive.

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Aliyu said the test results presented by inbound travellers can no longer be trusted.

He said 13 countries have been identified to have travellers with fake COVID-19 test results and that the federal government has written to the embassies to correct this anomaly.

National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu. [NAN]

Aliyu stated this when he and other members of the taskforce appeared before the joint senate committee on Health and Aviation on the testing procedures, following the reopening of the nation's international airspace.

Aliyu said in one instance, up to 40 percent of passengers in a single flight tested positive for COVID-19 despite testing negative before boarding from their respective countries.

"When we started the evacuation flights, the arrangement then was that people coming into the country will need to have a negative COVID-19 PCR result, with the test validity put at the time in seven days.

"There were indications from some specific countries where we had up to 40 percent of the passengers in the single flight coming in with a negative COVID-19 PCR result and subsequently being tested and found positive,'' he said.

Aliyu also said that as a consequence, an adjustment has been made to the validity period of PCR tests to be presented before boarding.

Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha. [Twitter/@DigiCommsNG]

In its response, the senate said it is worried about the low number of test laboratories in the country.

The lawmakers however promised that the request for 52 laboratories will be made in the 2021 budget.

Nigeria has reported 56,478 COVID-19 cases, 44,430 recoveries and 1,088 deaths as of September 15, 2020.

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Jude Egbas

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