Molly Kilete, Joseph Inokotong, Abuja, and Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
There is palpable tension in the Nigerian armed forces as one officer is said to have tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
About 20 others are also said to have gone into quarantine, Daily Sun has gathered. Top military sources said all the affected officers, mostly in the ranks of two and one star generals in the Army, Navy and Air Force, have just returned from the United Kingdom where they had gone for an undisclosed assignment.
It was gathered that the status of the officers, who are serving in one of the outfits under the Defence Headquarters (DHQ), in Abuja, is now sending fear down the spines of military and civilian personnel of the outfit.
Sources hinted that those who have gone into quarantine include the head of the unit, while the officer that tested positive to the virus is being treated in one of the designated centres.
To this end, anxiety has gripped all those who had direct contact with the affected officers and are contemplating going for tests. The head of the unit was said to have held a meeting shortly after returning from the trip. Aside from the meeting, there are fears that his driver, orderly, military assistant, domestic staff and personnel deployed to guard his residence may have to take a coronavirus test.
It was also gathered that the military authorities were not taking any chances as there is a record of all personnel who had returned from the COVID-19-prone countries abroad and have ensured they went into self-isolation and submit themselves for medical test.
At a media briefing last Friday, coordinator of the Defence media organisation, Major General John Enenche, while responding to journalists’ questions on precautions by the armed forces to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the services, said, “All our personnel who had the cause to travel to countries that are hit with the virus have heeded the advice of the Federal Government and they have self-isolated themselves before reporting back to work. Now it has become an order.”
Tis is as the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammad Babandede, chief medical director (CMD), University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Prof. Jesse Abiodun Otegbayo, the provost of the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Prof. Olubunmi Olopade-Olaopa, and the deputy provost, Prof. Obafunke Denloye, have also tested positive.
In a statement released in Abuja, yesterday, NIS spokesman, DCI Sunday James, said as a top official of government the CG adhered to the NCDC instructions to self-isolate and undergo tests on his return from a UK trip.
Tagged “Press release/health status of the Comptroller General of Immigration,” the statement read: “The Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammad Babandede, MFR, health status with regard to coronavirus and his self-isolation since he returned from UK.
“As a top official of government he has adhered to the NCDC instructions to self isolate and undergo test. The result of the test came out positive, hence the need to make it public. He conveys his goodwill to all and he is in stable condition responding to treatment.
“The Comptroller-General is active and directing as expected the affairs of the service online, while the Deputy Comptroller-General overseeing the administration of the service is in touch online to keep the service activities running within this period.
“The Nigeria Immigration Service community will continue to deliver on its mandate for the nation even in these trying times as we pray the whole world gets over it, Nigeria inclusive.”
Otegbayo and Olopade-Olaopa made the result of their tests known in separate statements issued personally yesterday morning.
The statements also came few days after Otegbayo announced that some doctors in the teaching hospital have been placed in self-isolation after they were confirmed to have had contact with some persons that had tested positive for coronavirus.
The UCH CMD said on the Facebook wall of the teaching hospital: “On Monday, 23rd March, we commenced a 12-man quarterly board meeting, which was meant to last five days in the hospital. We observed social distancing and other precautionary measures for COVID-19 as much as possible.
“However, on Wednesday morning, one of us presented with what appeared to be symptoms of COVID-19. His samples were immediately taken for test and the meeting called off.
“His results returned positive on Friday morning and every participant (including me) immediately went into self-isolation, while our samples were also taken for test.
“Unfortunately, my result returned positive on Saturday afternoon and I remain in isolation as I am not symptomatic. All staff who have been in contact with me and other participants during this period have been advised to immediately proceed on self-isolation, pending the time they get tested.
“COVID-19 is spreading faster than we think and I enjoin everyone to take precautions. If one person has it, then a gathering of two becomes dangerous. Stay at home, avoid unnecessary outing and stay safe.”
Olapade-Olaopa, also posted a message on a WhatsApp group message on Sunday morning, saying: “Dear colleagues, I wish to inform you that the deputy provost and I tested positive for the COVID-19, following the tests done on Friday.
“Although we are both asymptomatic, we have gone into self-isolation for the 14 days while our contacts are being observed closely to determine if they should also be tested.”
It was gathered that the trio are among the four new cases of COVID-19 in Oyo State announced on Saturday night by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).