39,070 incoming travelers successfully outsmart Nigeria to avoid taking Government’s mandatory Covid-19 tests on arrival, officials said yesterday 23 November.

Angered by this development, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19 has vowed to use security and the law to punish the cheats.

PTF requires passengers to undergo a post-arrival Covid-19 test at a private laboratory within seven days of their arrival.

Chairman, Mr. Boss Mustapha, at a daily briefing yesterday recounted a catalogue of passenger cheating practices uncovered by the PTF.

The three most prevalent, he said, are dodging tests, presenting fake test results, and paying for but not taking tests.

Mustapha, who is Secretary to the Federal Government, said 91,522 passengers booked for the Covid-19 tests as at 9 November.

Government granted waivers to 10,940 applicants, made up of those on special considerations (5,470), children (1,248), diplomats (3,392), and evacuees (830).

Although 46,982 of the remaining passengers paid for their mandatory Covid-19 tests, many failed to turn up for it.

“The amount paid to private labs by passengers who have refused to take the post-arrival seven-day test is between N220million and N270million.”

“We are concluding plans with relevant institutions and legal authorities to impose appropriate sanctions on those that defaulted on the protocols,” Mustapha said.

It’s a scam, passengers claim

Enugu Metro checks show two major reasons why short-stay travellers and returnee passengers seek to avoid the test.

Short-stay visitors see the post-entry seventh-day test as a waste of funds for passengers who must repeat the test within weeks of jetting out.

A visitor from a European capital wondered what sense it made for someone visiting for two weeks to do two tests within a week “merely to satisfy this protocol.”

“First, they expect you to do a test one week after arrival and then do another test not later than 72 hours to your departure,” she said.

“It didn’t make sense to me. I simply skipped the post-arrival test and only did one 72 hours before my departure,” she said.

Returnee passengers, on the other hand, expressed disappointment that government is not even handed in applying the rule.

“They are granting waivers to special categories of peoples as if anyone is immune from the virus,” one returnee passenger who said he conducted the second test said.

“If you must apply this rule as an important health protocol, do it without favours, for goodness sake! Why exempt anyone from a protocol designed to check the spread of Covid-19? What is that?” a third asked in annoyance.

Most of the passengers said that the way government is applying the rule makes this look as if it’s “a scam designed to benefit private laboratories.”

39,070 incoming travelers outsmart Nigeria to avoid taking Government’s mandatory Covid-19 tests on arrival, officials said yesterday.