Nigerians have been asked to help the government in identifying anybody who returned to the country within the past few weeks without observing the compulsory 14-days self-isolation.
Those to be reported also are people who returned recently without submitting themselves for routine checks at the airports and are yet to be tested for COVID-19, a strain of coronavirus, which has continued to defy science, infecting thousands of people daily.
The minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, at the national press briefing on the pandemic, on Thursday, in Abuja said this has become pertinent as most of the confirmed cases of the virus in the country are from recently returned travellers.
While confirming the number of cases reported in the country so far, Ehanire said a higher percentage of the cases are imported.
The minister urged those in that category not to wait to be reported but to be patriotic in ensuring their safety and that of others by submitting themselves.
“Please report yourself. Give us the date and time of your arrival so you can be tested and quarantined if the need arises,” the official pleaded.
Despite several lockdowns and preventive measures, Nigeria has seen a surge of confirmed cases of COVID-19.
The NCDC had announced on Thursday that it recorded 14 new cases, including six on vessels, which takes the total number of confirmed cases to 65.
It is the highest number of cases confirmed so far by the body in a single day.
“14 new cases of #COVID19 have been confirmed in Nigeria: 2 in FCT, 12 in Lagos,” NCDC tweeted at 8.35 pm.
“Of the 14, 6 were detected on a vessel, 3 are returning travellers into Nigeria & 1 is close contact of a confirmed case,” NCDC said.
Many Nigerians have criticised persons, including leaders, who returned from high-risk countries without observing isolation but rather chose to expose more people to the virus.
Mr Ehanire said the country is intensifying contact tracing to identify and test those who might have been in contact with infected people.
He said it was an irresponsible act that some of the people who flew into the country are not abiding by worldwide advisory of self-isolation.
The health minister’s address builds on that of his colleague, information minister, Lai Mohammed, who also on Thursday criticized Nigerians for not cooperating with safety protocols for coronavirus.
He said Nigerians are busy with “meaningless” criticisms instead of complying with the stipulated directives to keep people safe.
The information minister was however silent on the fact that it was indeed top politically exposed persons, who are at the centre of breaking safety protocols.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief of staff, Abba Kyari, who recently returned from Germany and tested positive, had raised alarm over the breach of safety protocols by several Nigerian lawmakers upon arrival into the country.
Kyari, in a letter to Femi Gbajabiamila, the speaker of the house of representatives on March 21, said the minister of health had drawn his attention to repeated violation of screening procedure at the nation’s airports.
Asides Kyari, more than five persons in Nigeria’s high political class are now infected after they returned from countries seriously battling with the contagion.
Their status suggests possible exposure of many others, whom they had met with in the past days, to the pandemic. This list includes governors, ministers, business leaders, and several other individuals.
The vice president, Yemi Osinbajo and several state governors, are on self-isolation after coming in contact with those infected.
“It is sad that the political class is leading this gross act of irresponsibility,” said broadcast journalist Ukachi Chukwu, on Facebook. “Mr Kyari returned from a trip abroad and refused to isolate…more importantly, he exposed the president to the virus.”
“If the political class will not obey instructions and self-isolate, how can they expect ordinary citizens to do (the) same?” the journalist queried.