The Nigeria’s centre for disease control on Tuesday confirmed two new cases of the coronavirus in the country, bringing the total number to 44. The two cases were located in Abuja and Bauchi State. “2 new cases of #COVID19 have been confirmed in Nigeria: 1 in FCT and 1 in Bauchi,” NCDC said. “The cases have travel history to Germany and the UK. As at 06:25 pm on 24th March, there are 44 confirmed cases of #COVID19 in Nigeria. 2 have been discharged with 1 death,” it added. Two of the 44 cases in Nigeria have recovered and been discharged, while the nation’s first coronavirus death was announced on Monday, March 23.
The two new cases are likely to be those of Abba Kyari, President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief of staff, and Bauchi state Governor Bala Muhammed. The two on Tuesday tested positive for the virus after their recent visit to Germany – a high-risk country that has recorded nearly 30,000 cases of coronavirus. Kyari tested positive several days after returning from an official trip to Germany. Kyari, chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, was in Germany in early March with a delegation of other Nigerian officials for meetings with Siemens AG. Kyari, who is in his 70s, has a history of medical complications, including diabetes, Reuters reported. There are strong possibilities that he has met with the president after he returned from Germany. Multiple media reports said the president was also tested for the virus but his test came back negative.
Before his diagnosis, Kyari met with Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello when he represented Buhari at the Fidau prayer for the governor’s late mother on March 17. The Minister of information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Minister of Special Duty, George Akume, Minister of State for FCT, Ramatu Tijani, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media, Garba Shehu, and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs were also at the event alongside the Chief of Staff. It is unclear if Bala visited the UK recently but on March 13, the governor signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Water is Right Foundation, led by its founder, Rolf Stahlhofen in Germany. After his return from Germany, the governor led a high-level delegation from Bauchi State to the office of the NCDC, led by its director general, Chikwe Ihekweazu. The meeting was to discuss Bauchi’s preparedness and response to Lassa fever and other infectious diseases.
However, before the governor took the test after it was announced that Mohammed Abubakar, son of former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, had tested positive for the virus on Sunday, March 22; the governor had met Abubakar inside an Abuja-bound airplane in Lagos and shook his hand on March 17. A day after the meeting from which the governor is now believed to have contracted coronavirus, he met with Nigerian billionaire, Aliko Dangote. He also attended the National Economic Council meeting on March 19. The meeting regularly takes place at the Presidential Villa and comprises all 36 state governors, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and other top government officials.
It is uncertain if they both adhere to the directive of the NCDC to self-isolate themselves for 14 days to watch for possible symptoms and avoid infecting others unknowingly. But sources said Kyari went into isolation on Monday. Mohammed’s aide said he went into isolation the same day.
Meanwhile, the National Examinations Council (NECO) has postponed the 2020 National Common Entrance Examination (NCEE) into unity colleges earlier scheduled for March 28, 2020. The organisation said the decision was in deference to the various measures being put in place by the federal and state governments to contain the potential spread of the Coronavirus. NECO’s Head, Information and Public Relations Division, Azeez Sani, made the announcement yesterday in a statement. He said a new date would be communicated to candidates in due course.