The fourth wave of COVID-19 seems to be spreading at the Presidential Villa after a minister and three top officials of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) reportedly tested positive to the virus.
PREMIUM TIMES identified the infected government officials as State House's Permanent Secretary, Tijani Umar; Buhari’s Aide-de-camp, Yusuf Dodo; his chief security officer, Aliyu Musa; Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
Their COVID-19 status was confirmed during the week after the results turned up positive.
Reports, however, said that the Buhari government is keeping a sealed lip on the matter, even as newspapers correspondents are advised against reporting the surge in infections at the villa.
According to sources, the infected officials including Shehu were taken out of the cabinet meeting on Wednesday when the result of their polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests came back positive.
When contacted, Shehu, who confirmed that he was 'afflicted by the mild variant of the COVID-19' in a text message on Saturday, declared that he has “no confirmation” of other cases mentioned to him.
The president's media aide was quick to add that he was already fit, claiming that he just finished his routine physical exercise.
His message reads in part; “I have no confirmation of the cases you mentioned, but yes I have been afflicted by the mild variant of the COVID-19. I felt okay from the beginning, maybe because one had received all three jabs, and right now, I feel 100 per cent. I just finished my hour-long running exercise.
“But the strange thing about this ailment is that it is the scientists, not you, that will say you are okay. Right now, I’m taking my prescriptions and isolating, and would go back for a test to ascertain if the virus is still here or it has left me. Thanks for your goodwill.”
Efforts to reach Garba’s colleague and special adviser on media and publicity to the president, Femi Adesina, on the matter, were unsuccessful.
As of the time of filing this report, he has yet to return the calls or reply the short message sent to his phone.
On his part, Special Assistant to the President on Digital and New Media, Tolu Ogunlesi said that he could not comment on the matter, as he referred our reporter to those he described as the government’s spokespersons.
The information minister could not also be reached as his line was unavailable for more than 24 hours.
However, reliable sources confirmed that Mr Mohammed and other affected officials are currently in isolation and are receiving medical attention.
Aisha Buhari’s early closure of office linked to COVID-19 spread
Quoting anonymous government officials who do not want to be mentioned for fear of sanctions, PREMIUM TIMES reported that the decision to seal the office of the wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, earlier in the week was connected to the spread of the virus and report that a considerable number of Buhari officials have tested positive.
In the statement issued by Special Adviser on Media to the First Lady, Aliyu Abdullahi, he conceded that though the situation was not part of the reason advanced for the early closure, it could also not “be unconnected to it.”
Abdullahi, however, declined to either confirm or decline, saying the president’s wife may have taken the decision to avoid the spread of the virus.