COVID-19: Aides panic as 10 senators go into self-isolation

Legislative aides, parliamentary staff, journalists and workers of the private firms within the National Assembly complex, who had close contacts with some senators that recently returned from a foreign trip, have expressed apprehension over their COVID-19 status.

No fewer than 10 senators recently went for a parliamentary forum at the United Kingdom, at the wake of coronavirus outbreak.

Investigations by our correspondent revealed that none of the affected lawmakers, on arrival in the country, went to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, to check their COVID-19 status.

It was also observed that majority of them started attending plenary session and committee activities, the second day of their arrival.

This is despite the fact that the two chambers of the National Assembly had earlier passed a resolution backing the Federal Ministry of Health’s order that travellers from COVID-19-prone countries should embark on self-isolation for two weeks, immediately they arrive in Nigeria.

Only one of the London returnee, Senator Ajibola Basiru, announced that he had gone into self-isolation immediately he arrived in the country.

The spokesperson for the Senate, Godiya Akwashiki, disclosed last Tuesday that part of the reason both chambers of the National Assembly were shut for two weeks was to enable the lawmakers, including the London returnees, to go on self isolation.

The returnee legislators have, however, said contrary to some media reports, none of them tested positive for the coronavirus neither did any of them exhibit the symptoms throughout the virus’ incubation period.

Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, Senator Mathew Urhoghide, a pharmacist, told our correspondent that it did not follow that everybody arriving in Nigeria from foreign countries must compulsorily go in self-isolation.

He, however, said all his colleagues on the said London trip, had been avoiding close contacts with lawmakers and other people since their arrival.

Urhoghide’s explanations may not have gone done well with Senator Francis Fadahunsi who told his affected colleagues to make themselves available for the COVID-19 test immediately.

He called on the officials of the Federal Ministry of Health to embark on contact tracing immediately with a view to quarantining those who failed to submit themselves for the test.

Investigations by our correspondent among those who had close contacts with the affected lawmakers showed that they are afraid of their COVID-19 status.

One of the parliamentary staff attached to senators inside the chamber said he had been praying to God that none of the returnee legislators should test positive for coronavirus.

A member of staff of a new generation bank within the National Assembly complex also expressed fears during an informal chat with our correspondent.

She said, “I handle the accounts of one of the senators and I usually go to his office to get documents, personally signed by him. I just pray that he is not COVID-19 positive.”

Some journalists, who have had course to interact closely with some of the affected lawmakers, also expressed fears during a series of conversations with our correspondent.

A journalist with a national television station said, “I was in the office of one of the senators and he gave me a document to go through. I pray, he doesn’t test positive.

“I was with him for about 30 minutes and I didn’t notice any symptoms of the coronavirus. He didn’t sneeze or cough throughout.”

However, a medical doctor based in Abuja, Akin Ajayi, told our correspondent that the possibility of contracting coronavirus from someone who has not exhibited the symptoms is very low.

He said, “Those who had close contacts with Nigerians that just returned from foreign countries have no reason to fear if their contacts have not started exhibiting the symptoms of the disease as of the time they met.

The Punch

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