There was a sigh of relief on Thursday in Abuja as most members of President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet tested negative to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
The positive status of the Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari, who is the coordinator of government activities created fright in government circles of a possible high-rate of infection of the cabinet members and governors.
But it was a thing of joy in the early hours when the tests conducted on most of the ministers were negative.
Although some results were still being awaited as of press time on Thursday, some of those whose results were released are members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, including the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who had gone into self-isolation ahead of the results.
There were signs that some members of the PTF might occasionally come out of isolation to attend to urgent issues on COVID-19.
Those given clean bill of health are: Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha; Dr. Ehanire; Interior Minister Rauf Aregbesola; Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika; Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed and Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Services Minister Sadiya Umar-Farouk.
Others are Finance Minister Mrs. Zainab Ahmed; her Minister of State Clem Agba; Education Minister Adamu Adamu; Environment Minister Mohammed Mahmoud; Others are the Minister of FCT, Mohammed Bello; the Minster of State for Mines and Steel, Mr. Uche Ogah; and the Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Dr. Ramatu Aliyu.
Other members of the SGF-led presidential taskforce on COVID whose tests turned out negative are the Director-General, Department of State Services (DSS), Mr. Yusuf Bichi; the Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control; Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu; and the World Health Organisation Country Representative, Wondimagegnehu Alemu.
A top source said: “All members of the PTF tested negative to COVID-19. At least, we now know the status of those managing this crisis for us.”
A minister, who spoke in confidence, said: “It was harrowing in the last 48 hours awaiting the results. I, members of my family and my aides had been in suspense.
“We were expected to receive the results on Wednesday but we were not notified until the early hours of Thursday.
“It was traumatic but it was worth it at the end of the day. The fear is not about whether positive or negative but the stigmatisation.
“The tension was more profound when we were given our results individually. No minister could ask his or her colleague the outcome of the test.”
The Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Dr. Ramatu Aliyu, said via a tweet: “I’m glad to inform all my family and friends, including the good people of the FCT at large that I have tested *negative* to COVID-19. I thank Almighty Allah for good health and his infinite grace in these trying times.
“I want to implore you all to take all possible precautions not just for yourself but also for your loved ones. Please avoid getting panicked. As a nation, we shall come out of this stronger and better”.
Responding to a question at a news briefing yesterday, the Minister of Information and Culture, said, “Yes, I did the test and early this morning (Thursday), I got the result and it came out negative.
“Every member of the Presidential Task Force(PTF) submitted himself or herself to the test. I am not at liberty to tell you the results of anyone
“We were tested at home. You can be tested within three to five minutes.”
But Mohammed was put to task on why the ministers, who were negative, had not gone into isolation.
He said:”Given the nature of the assignment before the PTF, we cannot abdicate our responsibility.
“We have taken measures on how to go about our duty such as teleconferencing. We came out of self-isolation because we have a huge task at hand.
“We will, as when necessary, come out of isolation, not because we have tested negative, but because we cannot abdicate our responsibility and just disappear.
“We are going to adhere strictly to the regulations on hygiene, social distancing, and other preventive measures.”
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