Thursday, February 1, 2024

Nothing abnormal about presidential aides contracting COVID-19 – Presidency

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The Presidency says there is nothing abnormal for presidential aides testing positive to COVID-19, “and are now on self isolation in their respective abodes”.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, who stated this when he appeared on Sunday Politics on Channels Television, said such incidents only “confirmed that the presidential aides are human and not immune to happenings around them”.

Our correspondent had on Saturday reported that some presidential aides had tested positive to Coronavirus.

Mr Adesina’s statement is the first subtle confirmation that presidency has been hit by the scourge according to sources who spoke with Premium Times.

Our correspondent had reported how the rampaging coronavirus pandemic hit Nigeria’s State House, as some administration officials and aides of President Muhammadu Buhari have contracted the virus.

But the Nigerian government had kept sealed lips on the matter until the news broke out.

Presidency sources named those believed to have been infected by the virus to include the Permanent Secretary in the State House, Tijani Umar; the President’s aide-de-camp (ADC), Yusuf Dodo; his chief security officer (CSO), Aliyu Musa, and his senior special assistant on media and publicity, Garba Shehu.

One source included the minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on the list. But the minister later told our correspondent he was neither infected nor down with the virus.

But Mr Shehu, who confirmed that he was “afflicted by the mild variant of the COVID-19,” in a text message shared with our reporter on Saturday, said he has “no confirmation” of other cases mentioned to him.

He added that he was already fit, claiming he just completed his physical exercises when our reporter called, but that it would require scientific evidence to claim that he no longer had the virus.

His message read 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 get the reaction of Mr Garba’s colleague and special adviser on media and publicity to the president, Mr Adesina, on the matter, then were unsuccessful as his phone always indicated “busy” when called many times, and he also did not reply to a short message sent to him, many hours after.
‘Presidential aides human’

Meanwhile, Mr Adesina in his reaction to Channels TV said: “Well, what I like to say is that presidential aides are just human. They can fall sick. If anything happens to human beings it can also happen to presidential aides.

”The fact that we are presidential aides does not make us to be immune to certain things. If there is a virus that is ravaging society. Well, it can touch anybody.

”So Malam Garba Shehu has confirmed that, yes, he tested positive but he said it’s mild. And I believe that by now, because it’s happened since Wednesday, by now, he should almost have beaten it if he had not beat it already. There is no cause for alarm.”

Commenting on his contact with Mr Shehu recently, the media aide said: “Well, I also believe God for the best. If it happens (I get infected), I’ll recover. So that’s it.”

Asked how many of the President’s aides in the State House have been infected, Mr Adesina said: “No. That will not be within my purview to discuss maybe if you get the Presidential doctor or anybody in the medical side, they will tell you.

”I wouldn’t know because, it is a private thing. If it happens to anybody, it is between that person and possibly the doctor. It’s not going to be general knowledge.
”So I may not be able to say.”

Mr Adesina also dismissed the fear being expressed in some quarters over the president’s health following his exposure to his aides believed to have been infected with the virus.

He said: “Well, I think Mr. President is quite fine, he is doing his normal routine, following his normal schedule. But if anybody close to him test positive, that person is required to stay away till he tests again, and he tests negative.”

”So, Mr President is following his normal schedule and routine.” (NAN)

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