Nigeria Army Panics As Aides To 26 Infected Generals Contract Coronavirus, Drivers, Orderlies, Cooks Not Spared

The Nigerian Army on Monday said 26 Generals and other senior officers have so far tested positive for COVID-19. It also disclosed that 417 officers had undergone testing for coronavirus after the General Officer Commanding 6 Division, Port Harcourt, Maj. Gen. John Irefin, died from COVID-19 complications during the annual Chief of Army Staff Conference in Abuja last Thursday.

The acting Director of Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Sagir Musa, disclosed in a statement that all the officers and soldiers working at the Army Headquarters were being tested, while COVID-19 protocols were being strictly enforced across all units and formations of the NA.

However, there are fears that the aides to the infected generals, including drivers, orderlies, cooks and other close acquaintances, may have contracted the coronavirus. A senior military officer said the secondary victims might also have passed the virus to other family members, colleagues and friends.

When asked if the Federal Capital Territory Administration Health Secretariat had commenced contact-tracing, the Chairman, FCT COVID-19 Protocols Enforcement Task Team, Attah Ikharo, said the army was handling the matter. He said anyone who had contact with the infected military officers “should also take the matter in their hands,” adding that “people must own the process.”

He added, “If you are enforcing everything (protocols), the public would not know the extent of what they ought to do. So, people should own the process and save themselves. The second wave is already here with us as the (FCT) minister said and we are already seeing it. On our own part, we will see what we can do but people must own the process.”

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He directed inquiries on the contact-tracing to the acting Secretary, FCT Health Secretariat, Dr Mohammed Kawu. Kawu declined comment and instead, promised to send the phone number of the official in charge of contact-tracing to Punch.

He, however, did not send the contact and also failed to respond to an SMS on the issue as at 9:25pm when this report was filed. Musa in his statement titled, “The emergence of COVID-19 during COAS conference,’ explained that the Army Headquarters complex was fumigated on Saturday.

The statement read, “On the confirmation that General Irefin’s COVID-19 test was positive on December 9, 2020, the Chief of Army Staff directed the immediate suspension of the conference and all participants were directed to move into self-isolation in line with FGN protocols on the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Equally, comprehensive testing of all participants commenced immediately. Consequently, as of Sunday, December 13, 2020, a total of 417 personnel have so far been tested with 26 confirmed positive cases.

“Currently, all participants are in self-isolation irrespective of their results, while the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control recommended COVID-19 treatment drugs were immediately issued to those that tested positive.

“Accordingly, all officers and soldiers working at the Army headquarters are being tested and COVID-19 protocols being strictly enforced across all units and formations of the Nigeria Army.”

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