By John Ikani
Visitors to Nigeria’s State House in Abuja will be required to undergo a rapid COVID-19 test at the entrance before gaining access to the seat of power.
Garba Shehu, Presidential spokesperson, made this known to State House correspondents on Sunday.
According to him, the development had become necessary to check the recent increase in positive cases within the seat of power.
Shehu said every visitor, with the exception of some leaders, will be required to take the test free of charge at the entrance of the villa.
What the Presidency is saying
“Yes, a new regime of Covid-19 regulation has been put in place for all visitors to the Villa, not for Governors alone,” said the Presidential Media Aide.
“Every visitor to the Villa, not just those seeing the President, is now required to do a rapid test at the gate.”
“The kits are freely issued so no one is required to make payment. This is purely temporary in view of the recent spike in cases, and will be removed any moment the situation abates. It’s a growing practice in government offices in many countries.
“Although some exceptions have been made for a few leaders in government coming from outside the Villa, they too are encouraged to do those tests.
“This policy has rightfully been justified following the discovery of COVID-19 positivity in some of those tested since the last few days of the practice.”
What you should know
The new regulation for gaining access into the Villa was not unconnected with the global spike in the rate of the virus’ infection, especially the Omicron variant, and the recent development in the villa, which saw some officials and aides of the President testing positive for COVID-19.
Last month, a number of close aides of President Muhammadu Buhari, including his Senior Special Assistant on Media Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, tested positive to the virus and had to go on self-isolation for treatment before being tested negative to the infection after a repeat test last week.
Also, Nigeria has reported a steady increase in COVID infections in what has been confirmed as the fourth wave of the pandemic by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
According to the agency, a total of 242,877 confirmed cases, 214,778 recoveries and 3,033 fatalities have been recorded in the country so far.