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COVID-19: Experts worry as 221 inbound passengers test positive in three weeks

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Deborah Tolu-Kolawole

No fewer than 221 out of the 11, 671 international inbound passengers tested positive for COVID-19 in three weeks.

Also, the rate of recovery among those infected with the virus dropped by 69.77 per cent within one week.

Virologists, who spoke to The PUNCH on Sunday, described the figures as disturbing.

They particularly expressed concern about the sharp increase in the rate of COVID-19 positive cases among passengers coming into Nigeria.

The virologists, therefore, urged the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control to release more details about infections and the Delta variant.

They said the release of the details would go a long way in enlightening the public while drawing attention to the need to take non-pharmaceutical preventive measures more seriously.

A report contained on the NCDC website accessed by The PUNCH on Sunday revealed that the number of inbound passengers who tested positive had spiked.

A check on epidemic week 26(June 28 to July 4) revealed that only 14 out of the inbound passengers to Nigeria tested positive for COVID-19.

It was also discovered that in week 27(July 5 to July 11), the figures rose drastically as 81 passengers who presented themselves for testing and isolation tested positive.

The data also revealed that in week 28 (July 12 to July 18), no fewer than 107 inbound passengers tested positive making a total of 221 passengers in three weeks. This is against a total of 54 positive passengers in the last month.

A total of 11, 671 inbound passengers submitted themselves for testing during the period under review.

An analysis of data accessed by The PUNCH revealed that no fewer than 10,000 inbound passengers were reported to have shunned testing and isolation.

The Chairman, Expert Review Committee on COVID-19, Professor Oyewale Tomori, in an interview with our correspondent, described the situation as alarming.

Tomori said, “This is worrisome and this is a big problem. Were the passengers positive before getting onboard or were they positive after getting into the country?

“From what I know, you have to test negative before you are allowed into the plane, so where did they get it from? I also think the NCDC needs to start sharing more details about the situation.

“The index case of the Delta variant was said to have come in through an inbound flight, which country? Is the person a he or a she, has he or she infected anyone? Are there plans to trace the infected individuals? All these will help in monitoring the trends.”

Another Virologist from the University of Ibadan, Professor David Olaleye also shared the same sentiment with Tomori. Olaleye however expressed concern over the number of inbound passengers who were said to have escaped testing and isolation.

He said “Over 10,000 were said to have avoided testing and isolation which means at one point or the other they would have been in contact with the positive cases.

“This is highly disturbing and if things are not well managed, cases could skyrocket and we will be in very big trouble.”

Also, the number of positive cases within the past week (July 19 to July 24) was 1,363, the highest within the last three months.

The PUNCH also observed that on Friday, 23 July, the country equally recorded 317 cases.

Four weeks ago (June 28 to July 4) 392 positive cases were recorded.

From July 5 to July 11, a total of 693 positive cases were recorded.

An analysis of the data by our correspondent also revealed that no fewer than 966 cases were reported from July 12 to July 18.

The latest findings by The PUNCH however revealed that from July 19 to July 24, the country reported 1,363 cases.

Further analysis of the data also revealed that the recovery rate among infected persons lowered drastically by 69.77 per cent within one week.

July 12 to July 18 recorded 966 cases with 258 recoveries while July 19 to July 24 recorded 1,363 cases with just 78 recoveries and 4 deaths.

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