Nigeria cannot afford free COVID-19 tests for travellers – PTF

The National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, has said the country can no longer sustain free Covid-19 tests for passengers arriving into Nigeria.

Aliyu who spoke on Saturday during a webinar organised by the Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, explained that the country would run out of test kits if it chooses to test the 5,000 to 7,000 persons who come into the country daily.

He therefore submitted that travellers must pay for the full cost of COVID-19 testing.

He said, “The main reason why we can’t test people is due to the number of passengers we get into Nigeria. It is nothing compared to Ghana or other countries. We get between 5,000 and 7,000 passengers when we fully open the airport every day. There is a slightly smaller number that goes out.

“At the moment, we have done just half a million tests. The tests are very expensive as we all know. PCR tests are very expensive in Nigeria and even in developing countries. At any point in time, we have 300,000-400,000 test kits available. The majority of these test kits are donated by our donors. We have some we have bought. We are in the process of buying about another half a million or so.”

He added, “If we were to take up the travel testing, we will run out of test kits in no time, believe me. We will be tripling the number of tests every day and it is not sustainable. Even in developed countries, like the United Kingdom for instance, yes you do testing and it is free under the National Health Service but it is not for travel purposes.

The PTF Coordinator listed Lagos as the only one charging N50,000, noting that others were charging between N36,000 and N39,000 for testing.

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