The Lagos State Government has commenced prosecution of inbound international passengers who fail to submit themselves for Day Two and Day Seven PCR tests as mandated by the Federal COVID-19 protocols and guidelines.
According to a statement issued on Tuesday by the Director, Public Affairs, of the Health Ministry, Tunbosun Ogunbanwo, the move became necessary as a result of the dramatic rise in COVID-19 positive cases seen in the evolving fourth wave.
“Lagos State Government is concerned with the dramatic rise in cases seen in the evolving fourth wave. Identifying that our previous waves are associated with non-compliance of inbound passengers with the testing guidelines, we have commenced prosecution of inbound international passengers who fail to submit themselves for Day Two and Day Seven PCR tests as mandated by the Federal COVID-19 protocols and guidelines,” Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi was quoted to have said.
“In addition, unvaccinated inbound passengers and anyone testing positive for COVID-19 are mandated to self-isolate at home for seven days. We will be sanctioning anyone found to be disregarding these guidelines, which are designed to minimize the community transmission of COVID and its variants”.
The Commissioner further disclosed that the State government has started contacting the defaulting passengers and patients for arraignment before a mobile court for special offenses.
Abayomi explained that defaulting recalcitrant persons who flout the testing and isolation guidelines has been ongoing for a while and is responsible for previous waves of infection in Lagos.
He added that the alarming trend of defaulters constitutes a State and National public health and security threat, and sabotages all efforts to mitigate and reduce the impact of the fourth wave on citizens and the economy of the State.
According to him, inbound passengers are likely to be carrying new variants of COVID-19 whose clinical implications and impact are not yet clearly understood amongst the population.
Abayomi noted that any citizen with symptoms of COVID or who test positive for the virus and refuse to isolate is inadvertently placing other innocent citizens at risk stressing that this can result in severe sickness and death particularly in vulnerable persons. He added that this also places an undue burden on State health resources.
He said: “From our data analysis, we discovered that only about 20 per cent of inbound passengers who pay for the COVID-19 PCR tests prior to their arrival in Lagos actually submit themselves for the tests on the required day at our designated laboratories. Our data also shows that a significant number of inbound passengers who actually do the tests on the designated days are testing positive and if they don’t self-isolate they pose a serious threat to the states ability to manage the fourth wave.
“To protect the rest of our citizens from this irresponsible behaviour, the Lagos State Government is taking some decisive actions. We have started contacting all those that have not done their Day two and Day seven tests by text messages. These messages are not a scam. We advise that if you receive such a message please respond and present yourselves before the mobile court to explain why you did not do the Day two or Day seven PCR tests as required. If we are unable to reach you by SMS, it implies that you have given us false information on your data forms, this in itself is also an offense.
“If we cannot reach you or you fail to present to a mobile court, your passport details will be forwarded to the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 and the Immigration Department who will in turn deactivate the passport of such persons for a year. And this basically means that they will not be able to travel out of the country for a period of one year”.
The Commissioner noted that the State government will not fold its arms and watch the irresponsible actions of some citizens erode the success recorded in the war against COVID-19 stressing that the battle against the global pandemic is a shared responsibility and the State now has elaborate laws to protect its citizens from the impacts of contagious pandemics.
Abayomi advised passengers coming into Lagos to obey and abide by the laid down protocols, noting that ignorance of the law will not be an acceptable excuse.
“It is also important to note that if you are positive on day two of entry into Lagos it may be likely that you are in possession of a fake PCR test that you used to board the inbound flight. This will also be investigated through our international networks. Fake PCR tests certificates and vaccination cards from any part of the world can be verified and will attract severe sanctions. Please do not solicit or entertain any offers to provide fake results or certificates”, he said.