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Lagos to sanction erring inbound air travellers, quarantine 4,448 passengers

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The Lagos State Government says severe sanctions await inbound air travellers and passengers who flout the State and Federal COVID-19 pandemic safety guidelines.

Director of Public Affairs of the State’s Ministry of Health, Tunbosun Ogunbanwo disclosed that as of August 19, 2021, Lagos has successfully quarantined 4,448 passengers since the commencement of isolation of passengers from the red-listed countries, adding that it has also identified 58 POIs who tested positive to the COVID-19 virus despite a negative test on arrival from these countries.

Stressing the importance of adhering to the travel guidelines as part of measures to minimize the impact of the pandemic on the citizens and economy, Ogunbanwo stated that the Third Wave of COVID-19 experiencing in Lagos and other parts of Nigeria is a direct result of the importation of cases from other countries where the pandemic is very active.

He stated that Lagos State Government has observed a disturbing trend of false accusations by some defaulting international travellers about the implementation of COVID travel protocols as laid down by the Federal Government, especially around inbound travellers from the red-listed Countries like South Africa, India, Brazil and Turkey.

Ogunbanwo cited the case of a female traveller, Adesola Adeleke, who flew in from South Africa and attempted to bypass the system established to safeguard the citizens and as a result put several innocent people at potential risk of contracting COVID-19.

He narrated thus, “Adesola Adeleke originally arrived at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) on the 25th of July 2021 alongside seven other passengers on Rwandan Airline in transit from South Africa at 1:30 pm. After the usual rigorous reconciliation of headcount at the Port Health Authority, it was discovered that six of the passengers, including Adeleke, could not be accounted for. Even though Adeleke had made the required payment for COVID tests and the mandatory isolation prior to leaving South Africa, she left the airport in Lagos knowing full well that she was contravening the law and her passport was retained by the Nigerian Port Health Authority.

However, 10 days later, on the 5th of August 2021, the Medical Director of the Mainland Hospital (Infectious Disease Hospital), Yaba, Dr Abimbola Bowale reported that Adeleke who was now on an absconded list had returned because she could not retrieve her passport without fulfilling her obligation to quarantine at one of the designated hotels of her choice in Lagos.

Her payment was confirmed, and she was informed she had to continue her quarantine for the next 7 days before being released. This information was communicated to her, and she was also provided with a list of available isolation hotels. She selected an option for her isolation, which only caters for accommodation without feeding. This was brought to her attention that feeding would be a separate arrangement with the hotel.

It is worthy of note that hotels that are utilized for the isolation of ‘Passengers of Interest’ (POIs) from the red-listed countries also accommodate other guests on the condition that entire floors are dedicated to isolating these passengers without mixing with other guests. Whilst it is partly the responsibility of the hotel to inform passengers of their need to stay within their rooms, it is the responsibility of the passengers in quarantine to adhere to the laid down protocols or face the consequences of the law if otherwise.

Adeleke’s day-two test was conducted on the 6th of August 2021 and the result came out negative, but her day seven test on the 14th was positive which required an extension of her isolation. She argued that she could not have been positive and requested a repeat test. A new sample was done by the Lagos State Government at no cost to Adeleke, which was performed on the 16th of August 2021 and released on the 17th of August 2021. The repeat test returned positive.

On the 17th of August, the hotel management called our attention to a man at the facility, claiming to be Adeleke’s father, attempting to forcibly take her away, irrespective of her status. The hotel was asked to allow her to leave as they were being violent and creating a scene. Since this incident, Adeleke has made sensational news to avoid being penalized for her actions. In summary, she avoided initial isolation by absconding to Ibadan, despite being aware of the protocol and only returned to try and collect her passport.

Following our investigations and evidence produced, her claims are totally false, and she would be made to face the consequences of the Coronavirus Law of 2021 based on the allegations that have been levelled against her in a court of law.

We make bold to say that we are not deterred by this frivolous campaign to ridicule the Federal and State public laws targeted to mitigate the third wave of infections and halt the spread of COVID, particularly because of the deadly new strains have the potential to cause massive sickness and death.”

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