As the December deadline fixed for all federal civil servants to get vaccinated against COVID-19 draws near, the federal government is mulling the possibility of compelling passengers of domestic airlines to show evidence of vaccination.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire who gave the hint while speaking at the regular media briefing of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 yesterday, said it was commonplace in many foreign countries for people to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, in order to be admitted to restaurants, cinemas, nightclubs, even to board aircraft on international flights.

While calling on those yet be vaccinated to drop their hesitancy and get the vaccine jab, Ehanire said the vaccines being used in the country are trusted and are of high standards.

“So I urge all citizens to drop their hesitancy and take the vaccines. It is commonplace in many foreign countries now that proof of Covid-19 vaccination is needed, in order to be admitted to restaurants, cinemas, nightclubs, even to board aircraft on international flights.

“This trend is intensifying around the world and will, no doubt, begin to take root in Nigeria in due course. I will not be surprised if domestic Nigerian Airlines start to demand vaccination cards, before boarding. I advise that, nobody should be left behind in vaccination, lest they face an embarrassing situation,” he said.

The minister said Nigeria had so far tested a total of 3,392,457 samples, of which 213,147 were confirmed positive for Covid-19, while active cases are 4,447 and cases discharged to date are 205,732.

He also said bed occupancy in the week under review was 16.17 per cent in 86 isolation wards, adding that oxygen was widely available, mainly in cylinders, with oxygen concentrators as back up.

He said there was presently no surge in demand for oxygen ventilators, adding that a review of oxygen situation in 125 treatment centres was ongoing, to also identify non-functional plants for repair.

Ehanire further explained that majority of patients (67%) on admission in isolation wards have comorbidities like diabetes, hypertension obesity and other non-communicable diseases, which are known determinants of the severity of Covid-19 illness.

On his part, the Executive Director of National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib said that: “As of this morning, Monday November 15th, 2021, a total of 5,891,305 eligible persons have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.”

He said the number represented only 5.3 per cent of the overall eligible population while 3,252,067 have received their second dose and are fully vaccinated, thereby representing only 2.9 per cent of the overall population of eligible persons.

Shuaib said the overall population of eligible persons in Nigeria targeted for COVID-19 vaccination to enable the country reach herd immunity against the disease is 111,776,503.

He assured that government was committed to mass vaccination campaigns.

“We hope to vaccinate at least 50 percent of our population by the end of January 2022. We will be conducting the National flag off of this mass vaccination campaign this Friday November 19th 2021 by 10am,” he said.

Shuaib said as part of our accountability measures, being taken by government, the agency has received reports of investigations into some fraudulent cases involving illegal procurement of vaccination cards.

For instance, Shuaib said there was a case of one Mr. Amako who attempted to travel outside the country with a vaccination card that could not be validated.

He said upon investigation, “it was found that the reason for the non-validation was that the expiry date of the 1st and 2nd dose was altered, and there was inconsistencies with the vaccine expiration dates and batch number and the QR code scanned belonged to another person. This clearly showed that Mr Amako illegally obtained the vaccination card without getting vaccinated.”

He said the man was denied travel and his case is currently with the law enforcement authorities.

“Once we conclude the investigation, we will reveal his full names to the public,” he added.

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