…17,000 ad-hoc staff for Edo election — INEC Chairman
By Chioma Obinna, Omeiza Ajayi & Gabriel Olawale
The Federal Government, yesterday, lamented fake COVID-19 PCR tests in circulation, cautioning travellers against the use of same.
It also disclosed that the government was working with relevant bodies to halt the trend.
This is even as the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, said it would recruit 17, 000 Adhoc staff for the Edo governorship election holding on September 19 in the 2, 627 polling units and 192 wards in Edo State as part of strategies to ensure COVID-19 safety guidelines.
The Chairman, Presidential Taskforce PTF on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha, who stated this during a briefing of the task force in Abuja, said: “Over the past one week, a lot of discussion in the public space has happened around the strike by doctors and threats by other unions in the health sector.
“While appreciable progress has been made in the negotiations to resolve the issues, I must underscore the fact that we are in a global public health emergency situation that has impacted negatively on all aspects of our lives, including the economy and finances of government.
“This has made it imperative for all citizens, irrespective of their professions and particularly health workers to re-awaken their sense of humanity and patriotism. The health and survival of our dear nation is important and we should eschew any action that will diminish the gains made in the containment of the pandemic so far.
“I am pleased to announce that the President has graciously approved additional N8.9bn for COVID-19 hazard allowance to all health workers. In addition, the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for hospitals and isolation centres will be given priority.”
National Coordinator of the Task Force, Dr Sani Aliyu, warned travellers against procuring fake COVID-19 PCR results for the purpose of flying out of the country.
He said: “We are aware of instances where COVID-19 PCR test results presented were fake and we are working with the authorities to deal with those as they arise.”
Aliyu advised those trying to come into the country to visit the travel portal and fill in their details rather than waiting to do same at the airports which he said could take longer time.
The PTF said it had also released guidelines and protocols regarding the international flights, the obligations of airlines, the pre-boarding conditions and post-boarding choices available to passengers regarding arrangements and facilities for testing.
“Travelers are to visit the Nigeria International Travel Portal- www.nitp.ncdc.gov.ng to register before embarking on any international travels in and out of Nigeria.
“For emphasis, I wish to reiterate that all travelers arriving in Nigeria must have tested negative for COVID-19 by PCR in country of departure pre-boarding and the PCR test must be done within 72-96 hours before departure.
“It is also important to note that passengers are required to remain in self-isolation post-arrival and should undergo a mandatory COVID-19 test in a designated private laboratory by the seventh day after arrival.
“The PTF is aware of and working with our partners to speedily resolve the teething challenges faced by intending travellers in accessing the portal, the costs of the test on arrival, inability to complete payment online and consequential inability to board.
‘’We, therefore, apologise to everyone that had experienced these challenges using the platform. We assure all Nigerians and visitors to Nigeria that the PTF is working across multi-layer stakeholder platforms to ease the bottlenecks,” the SGF said.
He said as part of efforts to promote community engagement, the PTF met with the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Polio and Primary Health Care, to discuss on how it can control community spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Also, today, the PTF briefed the National Food Security Council on the impact of COVID-19 on agriculture and the food value chain. The impact no doubt has been heavy but the government has re-calibrated its strategy for mitigating the impact”, he added.