December 1 deadline: Mixed reactions trail FG’s order on compulsory vaccination

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By Ogaga Ariemu, Abuja

Mixed reactions have trailed federal government’s December 1 deadline on  compulsory COVID-19 vaccination for civil servants.

The Chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha on Wednesday announced at a briefing in Abuja that, “With effect from 1st December 2021, Federal Government employees shall be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, or present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result done within 72 hours to gain access to their offices in all locations within Nigeria and our Missions.

“An appropriate service-wide advisory/circular will be issued to guide the process,” the SGF said.

Mixed reactions had trailed Ondo and Edo states mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for civil servants in both states.

Edo state Governor, Godwin Obaseki had said residents without proof of COVID-19 vaccination would be barred from public facilities and large gatherings.

Also, the Ondo State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Donald Ojogo, had said the state executive council decided that all residents of the state must be vaccinated against the COVID-19 pandemic, stressing that the decision was made in view of the ongoing efforts of the state government to contain spread of the Delta variant of the virus.

A Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Edo had protested against the state government’s directive on compulsory COVID-19 vaccination by residents before accessing a large gathering and plans by the state to restrict movement of persons without COVID-19 certificates.

Nigeria COVID-19 Response Alliance, a coalition of over 70 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and faith-based Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) had  described the statement credited to Governor Obaseki as outrageous, insensitive and excessive in response to the COVID-19 situation both in Edo State and Nigeria at large.

Speaking with Nigerian NewsDirect, a public health physician, Dr Isaac Egboja said the directive is good in principle provided the Federal  Government backs it up with adequate action.

He explained that the decision would make more people to be vaccinated.

He added, “FG’s decision if implemented will help in curtailing further spread of COVID-19 pandemic.”

Mustapha also revealed that the government has removed South Africa, Brazil, and Turkey from the list of countries where travellers have been restricted from coming into Nigeria as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He explained that the government took the decision to lift the ban following an emergency meeting held before the briefing.

He also commended the United Kingdom for reviewing its travel protocols which allowed fully vaccinated travellers from Nigeria to enter the country without having to self-isolate after their arrival.

“Over several months, four countries were placed on high-level restriction for travellers from such countries,” the SGF said. “The PSC has after a review of the developments in these countries, decided to remove South Africa, Turkey, and Brazil from the restricted list.

“As you are aware, the UK has eased restrictions on fully vaccinated travellers from Nigeria to the UK with effect from 11th October. Nigeria welcomes this development and assures that the PSC shall continue to review Nigeria’s protocols based on global developments, science, and national experience. A revised protocol will be issued in the next 24 hours.”

He alerted Nigerians on the forthcoming two major religious festivities – Salah and Christmas, noting that there would be increased passenger traffic in and out of the country. Similarly and possibly events of large gatherings.

Mustapha, who said the PSC would escalate surveillance and other control activities, urged the states and all Nigerians to increase their vigilance.

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