Expert kicks against health certificate for travellers into Nigeria
Says policy adds nothing to efforts to stop COVID-19
Despite relaxation of COVID-19 protocols by many countries, to ease international travel, including compulsory requirement of COVID-19 passport/health certificate, Nigeria is still demanding the document for inbound travellers.
Reacting, Chairman, Ministerial Committee on COVID-19 and foremost virologist, Prof. Oyewole Tomori, told The Guardian, yesterday: “Please, help us get the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 (PSC) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to cancel the outdated requirement of uploading health certificate before you can enter Nigeria.”
Tomori, who is the pioneer Vice Chancellor of Redeemer’s University, Ede, Osun State, said the requirement makes Nigeria, perhaps, the only country still asking for the document.
He said besides unnecessary delay and opportunity for fraudulent practices, the requirement is useless, adding nothing to efforts to stop importation of COVID-19 into the country.
He said: “The ‘staring’ (pun on steering) committee and the NCDC have combined to generate a new variant, called ‘Comatose.Limbo’, leaving Nigerians helpless and confused over COVID-19. Is it over? Is it still there? Do we need to continue vaccination?
“Election is not the only thing going on in Nigeria. We are still reeling from the repercussions of the last election. Please, help us wake up the NCDC and the ‘staring’ committee to come out of the 19th century and remove the obnoxious, time wasting, fraud encouraging requirement to upload the NCDC health certificate for travellers coming to Nigeria.”
Tomori added: “They should communicate better with the public on issues of public interest.”
But a source at the NCDC told The Guardian: “We are using the Nigeria International Travel Portal (NITP) as a surveillance tool for other infectious diseases. We are using information from this platform for Point of Entry (POE) surveillance of the ongoing Ebola virus disease outbreak in Uganda.
“Retaining the NITP for multiple infectious disease surveillance is a positive step by Nigeria, and it keeps us ahead of many other countries in our POE surveillance. We only require people to be honest in completing the form. It takes only a few minutes and there are no charges.”
The source said the PSC on COVID-19 is currently reviewing protocols and procedures, adding: “The updated protocols will be shared very soon.”