All categories of visitors including state governors to the seat of government in Abuja will henceforth take a rapid COVID-19 test before being allowed to visit the President or any other top government official.
THISDAY learnt that the new regulation for gaining access into the villa was not unconnected with the global spike in the rate of the virus’ infection, especially the Omicron variant, and the recent development in the villa, which saw some officials and aides of the President testing positive for COVID-19.
Last month, a number of close aides of President Muhammadu Buhari, including his Senior Special Assistant on Media Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, tested positive to the virus and had to go on self-isolation for treatment before being tested negative to the infection after a repeat test last week.
Speaking on the new entry regulation, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said Sunday that it would require every visitor to compulsorily take the test free of charge at the entrance gates of the Villa.
He, however, noted that some exceptions had been made for a few leaders coming from outside, though such persons are still encouraged to still take the test for safety reasons.
His words: “Yes, a new regime of Covid-19 regulation has been put in place for all visitors to the Villa, not for Governors alone.
“Every visitor to the Villa, not just those seeing the President, is now required to do a rapid test at the gate.
“The kits are freely issued so no one is required to make payment. This is purely temporary in view of the recent spike in cases, and will be removed any moment the situation abates. It’s a growing practice in government offices in many countries.
“Although some exceptions have been made for a few leaders in government coming from outside the Villa, they too are encouraged to do those tests. This policy has rightfully been justified following the discovery of Covid positivity in some of those tested since the last few days of the practice”.
Deji Elumoye in Abuja