VISITORS to Nigeria’s presidential villa in Aso Rock will have to take lateral flow tests upon arrival under the terms of a new health regime being introduced this year as part of measures to contain the spread of the virus.
Over the last two years, access to Aso Rock has been restricted as part of a government plan to protect staff working there but now that the restrictions are being eased, more testing is being introduced. As from this week, all guests, including state governors, VIPs and foreign dignitaries will be asked to take a test on arrival.
Last week, a number of close aides of President Muhammadu Buhari, including his senior special assistant on media and publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, had tested positive to the virus and had to go into self-isolation. According to Mallam Shehu, there may be some exceptions to the new rule but such persons are still encouraged to still take the test for safety reasons.
Mallam Shehu said: “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.
“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.”
He added that some visitors that wanted to see the president last week were directed to take the Covid-19 test before they were allowed to go in. One unconfirmed report has it that even State House staff will be required to take Covid-19 tests every day before they are allowed inside the villa.