COVID-19 Update: FG to Investigate N2.67bn School Feeding Scandal, Return Ticket to UAE and Others
As Nigerians protest against SARS and insecurity in the country and stakeholders continue asking for a resolution to the ASUU strike, the country seems to have forgotten about Covid-19 and returned to a state of normalcy. But coronavirus is still in the air as Covid-19 testing is still being conducted in the country.
Details from the NCDC show that from September 28 to October 5, 29,260 Nigerians were tested for the virus. Of the number tested, 1,005 were confirmed to be infected.
25,504 people were tested in the previous week and 1,023 results came back positive. Comparing the figures from this week and the previous week, there is a slight drop in the number of infected people even though more people were tested this week.
Recall that TechNext reported the development of a new and cheaper testing kit by the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) which produces a result in about 40 minutes. With the adoption of the new kit, the volume of tests is expected to rise in the coming weeks and the corresponding results will show the true rate of COVID-19 infection.
These are the other important developments that happened in the country relating to the COVID-19 recently.
Incoming travellers test positive after getting re-tested in Nigeria
The Nigerians-in-Diaspora Commission, in a statement on Twitter, has revealed that people travelling into the country are testing positive for the COVID-19 even though they tested negative before boarding the flight into the country.
According to the Commission, “Many travellers tested positive for COVID-19 after 7 days of arrival in Nigeria, despite testing negative before departure. Numbers are high because the virus spreads quickly and silently. This is why testing and 7-day isolation are mandatory.”
About 2,403 people have been tested in Lagos with 80 of the test results coming back as positive after the re-test. The tests are not carried out at the airports because this will reduce the chances of detecting infected persons.
Incoming travellers are not mandated to observe two-weeks isolation in Nigeria because the government cannot afford to enforce it, according to the Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu. As a result, people who are considered to be highly at risk of being infected are asked to do another test days after their arrival.
“If we had a system of enforcement or isolation, such that everyone coming into the country self-isolates effectively for two weeks, you do not need to do the test because we know you will not transmit to anybody else,” Aliyu said.
Passengers complain of long queues and multiple payment for testing
As people follow the government’s instructions to get another testing done when they arrive the country, many have aired their frustrations about shortcomings in the entire process.
There have been cases of diagnostic laboratories misplacing people’s results and asking for another payment to carry out another test as well as cases when the NCAA portal did not allow people upload the necessary documents and seamlessly pay in advance for tests.
Nairametrics reported the case of a journalist who was told to pay for a test at a private laboratory that supposedly had branches across the country. He found out that the laboratory had only one branch and it was in Abuja, which meant another round of travel after coming in from a journey.
Another traveller, Ndubuisi Ekwulonu, during a session with Brekete Family, a reality programme focused on human rights, lamented having to pay twice for the COVID-19 test. Despite the multiple payments, he still did not find his name on the list of those who paid.
While the money was refunded, the hitches experienced by people in the process of getting tested reveals the slow pace at which the country’s system is catching up with the demands of the present reality.
FG Launches $195.5 million fund to support small businesses
Micro and small business owners in the country can now obtain grants from a $195.5 million (N75 billion) fund set up by the Trade and Investment Ministry. Information from the ministry’s website indicates that almost a million people are expected to benefit from the fund in order to meet payroll obligations, official registration requirements and improve business operations.
Women-led businesses are the major targets of this fund as they are to form 45% of the beneficiaries. 5% of the fund is set apart for people with special needs. The fund will be pulled from President Muhammadu Buhari’s N2.3 trillion virus stimulus package
To know how to apply for the fund, follow this link.
UAE authorities mandate incoming Nigerians to have return tickets and negative COVID-19 test results
Nigerians travelling to the UAE now have to follow a new set of directives laid down by the UAE authorities. The new guidelines were made known by the Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede.
The intending travellers must have a confirmed return ticket in addition to a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 96 hours before departure. They also have to confirm their hotel reservation or alternative place of residence for the duration of their stay in the UAE. The alternative can be the home address of the person or that of anyone who is hosting the traveller while he/she is in the UAE.
He added that the individuals are to have “valid health insurance, copies of trade licenses in the UAE and Nigeria, if applicable.”
For official visits however, only the negative PCR test result is mandatory and applicable.
FG investigates N2.67bn school feeding fund found in personal accounts
A sum of N2.67 billion that was disbursed to 104 unity colleges in Nigeria has been found in the accounts of some private individuals. This was made known by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC). The funds were supposedly disbursed for school feeding program even though schools have majorly been under lock and key at the time they were disbursed.
Following the claims by the ICPC, the federal government has ordered an investigation into the matter. In response to the alleged laundering, Ben Goong, Director, Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Education, shared that the schools principals’ claimed that some of the payment was used to clear off debts that were incurred before the lockdown began.
According to the principals, the government Integrated Financial Management Information System platform that was designed for the scheme allowed individual officers of those colleges to receive payment and disburse money to vendors.
The principals also explained that because the local vendors and market traders do not have Tax Identification Numbers, PENCOM and other requirements to access the payment platform, the schools’ officers had to act as the middlemen.
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