The Nigerian government has declared that it would sanction inbound passengers who abscond from COVID-19 isolation facilities, adding that it may prosecute such individuals as well.
Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, while addressing a press conference in Abuja, said he believed such persons constitute a major risk to the country’s health system.
He expressed concern over reports from port health officials that some passengers from high risks countries have continued to abscond from facilities where they were quarantined.
“The Federal Ministry of Health Point of Entry (PoE) pillar of the COVID-19 response has been continuously monitoring passenger arrivals especially from high-risk countries like India, Turkey, and Brazil.
“This process has been an arduous one given that port health staff have continued to report a trend of abscondment by quarantined passengers, an act detrimental to our pandemic response and public health safety,” the health minister lamented.
Continuing, he said, “I entreat all persons to comply with our port health staff or risk facing sanctions, including prosecution. Non-compliance with their directives constitutes a risk to national health security and will be handled with commensurate severity.”
Osagie noted that the world has witnessed an increase in reported cases of COVID-19 across a significant number of countries, due to the high transmissibility of the Delta Variant.
He explained that the threat included importation from countries that were popular travel destinations for Nigerians, including the United Kingdom, United States, UAE, France, and Turkey, which have a high incidence of the COVID-19 strain.