Coronavirus: El-Rufai tests positive, top aides to proceed on self-isolation

Kaduna State Commissioner for Health, Dr Amina Baloni, will on Sunday (today) speak on the contacts of Governor Nasir el-Rufai, who on Saturday announced that he had tested positive for coronavirus.

Some of the persons that might be asked to go into self-isolation include some of his commissioners, top aides, drivers as well as their families.

Sources close to the governor told one of our correspondents that the commissioner had been mandated to speak on the issue.

It was also learnt that the revelation by the governor shocked his aides and that there was anxiety among them, as some of them had had close contacts with him a few days back.

A source said the governor decided to make the result of his test known to Nigerians because he saw nothing wrong with it, adding that it was seen as his social responsibility.

He said the test was conducted only on the governor, adding that because of that, there was no way the state would know the status of other officials.

He said, “The result was conducted only on the governor. There is no way the state can determine the contacts now and only the commissioner of health can speak on it and it will be done on Sunday (today) because it is late now (Saturday night).

“So, there is nothing to hide. The governor decided to release the result because he is a responsible leader and he had nothing to conceal. He did not want to conceal any fact. He preferred to open up on the result because he is a responsible leader.”

Another source said there was anxiety among the governor’s aides, fearing that they could also have contracted the virus because of the close contact they had had with him.

“We are afraid that many of us could have contracted the virus because we work as a family and are very close to our boss. However, we all know it is not a death sentence. Whatever comes out of it, we know we will come out stronger.

“Therefore, we the aides like the commissioners, advisers, assistants, drivers, family members and others who are very close to the governor are likely going to go on self-isolation,” the source added.

In a statement signed by him on his social media pages, the governor said he had earlier in the week submitted his blood samples for COVID-19 test.

He said the results, which came in on Saturday evening, showed that he tested positive for the virus and he had gone into self-isolation.

“According to the protocols for managing COVID-19, I am in self-isolation as required by the case management guidelines of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control for someone who is not showing symptoms.

“I wish to appeal to the people of Kaduna State to continue to closely observe the preventive measures already announced. It is most important that everybody should do their utmost to stay safe. Stay at home and stay alive,” he said.

El-Rufai added that his Deputy Governor, Hadiza Balarabe, was chairing the state government’s COVID-19 task force and that she would continue to issue statements from time to time.

The governor would be the first known case of the coronavirus in Kaduna State and the second governor in the country to test positive for the coronavirus, after his Bauchi State counterpart, Senator Bala Mohammed, tested positive last week.

Mohammed had last Tuesday said he met and shook hands with Mohammed, the son of former Vice-President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, who tested positive for COVID-19 last Sunday.

The governor said he had since been in self-isolation.

Meanwhile, with el-Rufai’s announcement, Nigeria had recorded 97 cases of the coronavirus as of 11 pm on Saturday.

According to the NCDC, Lagos had the highest number of cases at 59; Federal Capital Territory, 16; Oyo and Ogun states had seven and three cases, respectively. Bauchi, Enugu, Osun and Edo states had two cases each.

Ekiti, Kaduna, Rivers and Benue states had one case each.

Globally, as of 7 pm on Saturday, around 646,000 coronavirus cases had been recorded, with about 30,000 deaths, according to data site, Worldometer. Around 140,000 patients had, however, recovered.

Meanwhile, reacting to el-Rufai’s diagnosis, the spokesperson for opposition political parties under the aegis of Coalition of United Political Parties, Ikenga Ugochinyere, said the governor and the 89 other Nigerians who had tested positive for the virus needed the people’s prayers.

“We wish Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, who today (Saturday) tested positive and the other 89 Nigerians who have tested positive for the coronavirus quick recovery.

“Let’s continue to stay safe, maintain social distancing, remain at home, if possible, and follow all instructions issued by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control,” Ugochinyere said in a statement.

In a related manner, Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde has said he is in self-isolation based on the advice by the NCDC to governors who attended the last National Executive Council meeting in Abuja.

Speaking via a live Twitter chat on Saturday, Makinde said governors who attended the NEC meeting came in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case.

“We were all advised to self-isolate and go for test. I have been in self-isolation since then.” he tweeted.

The governor also said an enforcement team had been put in place to ensure compliance with all the directives aimed at curbing the spread of the disease in the state.

“If there is a gathering of more than 10 people, for instance, they will be dispersed. If it is a nightclub, we seal it, until the ban is lifted,” Makinde said.

The governor said the state’s testing capacity was limited, but it had improved upon it by setting up two diagnostic centres in collaboration with the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan.

According to him, more people can be tested once the NCDC certifies the facilities.

“We are stepping up both enlightenment campaigns and enforcement measures. We have disease surveillance and notification officers in all the 33 local government areas and 35 local council development areas.”

Also, a former Minister of State for Defence, Mr Musliu Obanikoro, said he is on self-isolation on return from the US and the UK.

“I am fine, I just got back from the US and UK hence the decision to self-isolate,” he said. – Punch.

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