The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and some of his close aides are currently awaiting results of the COVID-19 tests conducted on them shortly after they returned to Nigeria from London, United Kingdom.
They are, however, currently in isolation according to the protocols for international travellers.
Recall that Buhari travelled to London on July 26 to participate in the Global Education Summit on Financing Global Partnership for Education 2021-2025.
At the end of the summit, the President stayed back in London for a scheduled checkup while some members of his entourage returned to the country.
Buhari only returned to the country on Friday with some close aides who stayed back with him.
The PUNCH learnt that shortly after their return, the President and the close aides took COVID-19 tests.
The anxiety ahead of the result, it was further learnt, was caused by the reported cases of the virus among officials of the Nigerian High Commission in UK while members of the presidential delegation were still in London.
A Presidency official, who did not want his name mentioned because he is not the spokesman, said, “You know that some officials of the High Commission were reported to have tested positive recently, leading to the shutting down of the High Commission’s complex.
“You also know that when the President visits a country, officials of our High Commission or Embassy, as the case may be, in that country are always on ground to see that the President and members of his team have a successful stay.
“In this regard, it is just natural that those who had interface with officials of the High Commission during their state will be a bit agitated, but it is not really a big deal.
“First set of tests has been conducted and we are waiting for the results. Of course, they will be isolating in accordance with the guidelines released by the PSC (presidential steering committee) for international travellers.”
One of our correspondents further learnt that members of the President’s team who arrived earlier at the end of the education summit also went into isolation, had COVID-19 tests had since been released from isolation.
Recall that the Nigeria High Commission was shut down for 10 days on August 12 following confirmed cases of the virus among officials.
A statement on the matter titled ‘Closure of Nigeria High Commission, London’ had read, “This afternoon, the Head of Immigration Section and two other officials went for a meeting at the Home Office.
“At the entrance, COVID test was administered on them and one of them tested positive to COVID-19. The affected officer immediately isolated while the other officials, who tested negative, will also isolate for the next 10 days.
“In response to this challenge, the mission embarked on testing all officials of the mission, after which another official of the Mission tested positive,
“In line with COVID-19 regulation and the need to adhere to the rules and regulation of the host country, the Mission will close down for the next 10 days, in order to observe the mandatory isolation of those who were in contact with the affected officials.
“While the High Commission regrets any inconvenience that this may have caused, we solicit the cooperation of the general public.”
When contacted on the telephone on Sunday, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, did not speak on the matter, saying he was out of town.
“Sorry. We are presently in Yola on a condolence visit,” Shehu had replied after he had asked that our correspondent send a text message as he was unable to take his call.
The PUNCH learnt that the worker, who is in the customer care unit, contracted the virus last Monday.
An official, who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, said several workers of the agency had also been ill.
The source said, “The woman, a nursing mother working in the customer care unit, tested positive on Monday.
“Other staff have been reporting one form of illness or the other. I am not feeling well as well and hope I have not contracted the virus.”
A memo to workers of the agency, obtained by one of our correspondents, showed that the Lagos office would be shut from Monday, August 16.
The memo said, “Good day #TeamLagos. This is to officially notify all members of staff of the temporary closure of the NIMC Lagos State Office, Alausa, from Monday, August 16 to Friday, August 20, 2021, to enable management to fumigate and sanitise the offices.
“Enrolment activities will resume on Monday, August 23, 2021.
“Meanwhile, ensure you observe all COVID-19 protocols in all the LGAs/ LCDAs. You will be notified by your state coordinators immediately we get receipt of personal protective equipment from the headquarters. Please stay safe.”
Asked why it took a week after the detection for the NIMC to shut down for fumigation, our source said the NIMC headquarters just approved the request of the Lagos management.
The NIMC Public Relations Officer, Kayode Adegoke, denied knowledge of the COVID-19 case, adding that the fumigation was being done by the Lagos State Government.
He promised to call back our correspondent for further details, but had yet to do so as of the time of filing this report.
Second phase vaccination begins today
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has confirmed that it will begin the second phase of COVID-19 vaccination on Monday (today).
The second phase will see the government administering the Moderna vaccine recently received in the country.
The confirmation was contained in a notice issued by the Nigeria Primary Health Care Development Agency.
“I am directed to invite you to the flag off of the second phase of COVID-19 vaccination exercise on Monday, August 16, 2021 at the Federal Medical Centre, Jabi Abuja by 9.30 am,” the invitation read.
Data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control showed that no fewer than 8,054 cases of the coronavirus were reported over two weeks.- Punch