Aides to governors and domestic workers in government houses in some states are currently panic stricken, following the spike in the contraction of the novel coronavirus among their principals and members of their households.
In the last one week, three state governors and two of their spouses have reportedly tested positive for the virus.
So far, about seven of the 36 governors in Nigeria have tested positive for the dreaded disease, but there has been no fatality.
The three governors, who tested positive over the last seven days and currently in self-isolation as required by the case management guidelines of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for someone who is asymptomatic, include Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo) and Dave Umahi (Ebonyi).
Four of the governors who tested positive for the virus, but already recovered are Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State who spent 15 days in isolation centre; Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State who recovered after three weeks; Seyi Makinde of Oyo State who recovered within a week after testing positive and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, who turned negative after spending 25 days in isolation.
Despite the recovery rate, New Telegraph gathered that aides and domestic workers of the governors and their spouses are apprehensive over the possibility of being exposed to the disease from their principals who are still engaging in round-the-clock government activities.
It was learnt that some of the aides and domestic staff who work directly with the governors are weighing the option of excusing themselves from their duty posts for now.
“I am scared of going to the office because the rate at which governors and other politically exposed personalities are getting infected with the virus is worrisome.
I can’t risk my life and that of my family because of work. I may apply for leave anytime for now and stay at home,” a civil servant who works in a government house in one of the South-West states told New Telegraph.
She further noted that “my governor has not contracted the virus, but seeing him move around at a time like this makes some of us apprehensive. We have been assured of safety measures, but it is not just enough. We can’t risk our lives and that of our families because of work.”
Meanwhile, there is the strongfear that activities at most government houses across the states may suffer following the spike in the contraction of the novel coronavirus among state governors and their households.
In May, 10 staff associated with Lagos State House in Marina tested positive for COVID-19, but the governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his wife, Dr. Joke, were not affected.
However, the workers recovered after 10 days in isolation centres and are back to their duty posts.
The infection rate at the Benue State Government House, Makurdi, is more frightening as the state’s First Lady, Dr. Eunice Ortom, her son, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), the governor’s Chief of Staff, the state’s Head of Service and about 30 other officials and aides have tested positive for the virus.
Disclosing the news of her status, Mrs. Ortom said: “Few moments ago, (on Friday), I received my result from the tests earlier carried out on me by the NCDC personnel on routine screening at government house, Makurdi, which returned that I and my son and some staff are COVID-19 positive.”
Among the staff are cooks and aides. In Delta State, Governor Okowa, his wife and their daughter remain in selfisolation. Some members of his cabinet, including the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Chiedu Ebie and Commissioner for Information, Charles Aniagwu, are also in isolation.
Similarly, in Akwa Abom State, no fewer than 10 members of Government House Press Corps reportedly tested positive and they were subsequently moved to an isolation centre.
The Ondo State Government House is also not spared as Governor Akeredolu is currently self-isolating since he is asymptomatic and there are reports that his wife, Betty, is also positive alongside some of her aides.
Akeredolu, who disclosed his COVID-19 status last Tuesday, stated: “Earlier today, I got confirmation of a positive result for COVID-19.
I am asymptomatic and not displaying any symptoms. I am currently self-isolating and supervised home management will be administered by the wonderful team at our Infectious Disease Hospital.” Also, unconfirmed reports have it that Mallam Babagana Wakil, the Chief of Staff to the Borno State governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, who died on July 1, might have contracted the virus.
On July 1, the Chief of Staff to the Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, Noel Donjur, tested positive for the virus and he is currently in an isolation centre.
It will be recalled that late Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Malam Abba Kyari, died of complications arising from COVID-19 on April 18.
Data from the NCDC indicates total tally of 28,167 confirmed cases in the country with 11,462 discharged, while the death toll, so far, stands at 634.