Governors and other visitors to the Presidential Villa, Abuja, will henceforth, take rapid COVID-19 test to be allowed into the seat of power, the Presidency said in a new regime of protocol it announced yesterday.
The regulation will be applied on visitors to President Muhammadu Buhari and any other visitor to the State House.
Senior Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity Mallam Garba Shehu said the new regulation for gaining access into the Villa became imperative, following the global spike in the virus’ cases, especially the Omicron variant.
He said the recent development in the Villa, which saw some officials and aides of the President testing positive for COVID-19, also informed the measure.
Shehu was one of such aides that tested positive to the virus. He was on self-isolation for treatment.
He said the new regulation will compel every visitor to compulsorily take the test free of charge at the entrance gates of the Villa
The presidential spokesman, however, noted that some exceptions had been made for a few leaders coming from outside, though such persons are still encouraged to still take the test for safety reasons.
He said: “Yes, a new regime of COVID-19 regulation has been put in place for all visitors to the Villa, not for governors alone.“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.”
Also yesterday, investigation by our reporter showed that COVID-19 cases have dropped by 35 per cent in the last 24 hours, according to epidemiological data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
Between December 31, 2021 and January 1, 2022, the agency said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases dropped from 828 to 536 cases.
Overall, as of January 1, 2022, a total of 242,877 confirmed COVID-19 cases were recorded, with 214,778 discharged and sadly, 3,033 deaths.
In the light of the fourth wave of the pandemic, which is largely driven by the Delta and Omicron variants, the agency, therefore, urged Nigerians to avoid crowded and poorly ventilated indoor spaces, regularly wash their hands under flowing water with soap, hand sanitising with alcohol-based sanitisers, wearing of face mask and practising social distancing.