Wednesday, October 20, 2021

FG Clarifies UK Travel Advisory, Says Nigeria Not On Red List

…Reads riot act on illegal COVID-19 vaccination card procurement

The executive director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib.
The executive director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib.

Sequel to the uncertainty on the fate of Nigerians planning to travel to the United Kingdom (UK), the Federal Government has clarified the travel advisory released by the UK government, saying Nigeria will not be on the COVID-19 red list.

The executive director of National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, made the clarification during the weekly media briefing on COVID-19 vaccination rollout yesterday in Abuja.

Recall that uneasy concern trailed the news of the alleged plan of the UK to treat both vaccinated and unvaccinated Nigerians entering the country as unvaccinated from Monday October 4, 2021.

Shuaib explained the UK government had no issues with the vaccines being administered in Nigeria, saying the directory was a phased approach to deal with the high demand and volume of people arriving their country, even as he assured there is no change in the guidelines for entry of Nigerians into the UK at the moment.

“As you may be aware, the UK government released a new travel advisory which would take effect from Monday October 4, 2021. There have been concerns by Nigerians on how this would affect us. We would like to clarify that the guidance provided by the UK government is that they would want to simplify the classification of countries from green, amber and red to just red and green list. Therefore, countries that are currently on the amber list may fall into either of these two categories.

“We have had preliminary discussions with officials of the UK government. Without prejudice to the information yet to be released, we have been assured that Nigeria will maintain the status quo. That is to say Nigeria will not be on the red list. The UK government have also stated that they have no issues with the vaccines used in Nigeria. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, also known as COVISHIELD that is used in Nigeria was approved by the UK regulatory body (MHRA), other stringent regulatory authorities and the World Health Organization.

“So, the UK government does recognize the vaccines used in Nigeria. The UK is doing a phased approach to deal with the high demand and volume of people arriving their country. It is important to stress that this phased approach is still under review by their government and they would be providing updates regularly. For Nigeria at the moment, there is no change in the guidelines for entry of Nigerians into the UK,” he said.

The NPHCDA boss also read riot act on peddlers and patronizers of fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination card, saying the agency and other law enforcement agencies would prosecute and punish defaulters who are caught trying to secure vaccination card without getting vaccinated, even as he urged the public to immediately report any suspected cases of buying and selling of COVID-19 vaccination cards without receiving the vaccines to the nearest law enforcement agency or to NPHCDA.

“With the increase in COVID-19 vaccination mandates globally, it has come to the notice of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the Federal Ministry of Health, that attempts are being made by unscrupulous persons to procure the COVID-19 vaccination cards, without receiving the COVID-19 vaccines. NPHCDA and the Presidential Steering Committee strongly condemns these fraudulent attempts and is urging those attempting such acts to desist henceforth.

“The ongoing COVID-19 vaccination and the vaccination cards are totally free of charge at all designated COVID-19 vaccination sites across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT. Possession of vaccination cards without receiving the vaccines is criminal and punishable by law. The NPHCDA is collaborating with the State Security Services (SSS), ICPC and other law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute any persons and their accomplices attempting to fraudulently acquire COVID-19 vaccination cards without getting vaccinated,” he stated.

Giving update on the vaccination status of Nigeria, he said a total of 4,487,367 eligible persons have received their 1st dose of COVID-19 vaccine as at September 20, 2021.

“This is made up of 2,863,422 persons who have taken the first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine and 1,623,945 persons who have taken the first dose of Moderna vaccine. So far, 1,783,676 eligible persons have been fully vaccinated, of which 1,781,840 is with the AstraZeneca vaccine, while 1,836 persons have had the Moderna vaccine,” he added.

He urged all eligible Nigerians to visit the nearest designated health facility to get vaccinated, reiterating that vaccination is free and is currently ongoing.

“We are beginning to see not just the UK government but other developed countries also instituting more stringent COVID-19 guidelines for travel and public spaces. As the pandemic evolves, we may get to a point where countries would not allow the entry of unvaccinated individuals,” he added.

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