By G9ija

The presidency has announced that visitors to the presidential villa in Abuja would be required to take rapid COVID tests before they would be allowed to gain entrance.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu explained to Channels Television that the new development is not unusual, as it is a growing practise in government offices in other countries.

Shehu said every visitor including state governors are required to take the COVID-19 rapid test before entry into the presidential villa.

He explained that the test kits which are issued for free at the gate is a temporary measure against the backdrop of the recent spike in the number of cases of the COVID-19 virus in the country.

“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-19 positivity in some of those tested since the last few days of the practice,” Shehu said.

Last week, some aides of President Muhammadu Buhari were said to have tested positive for the virus.

Shehu announced last week that he tested positive for COVID and subsequently went into isolation. He later announced in a Facebook post that he has recovered from the virus.

The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Mohammed Bello in a statement personally signed by him on Friday announced that he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Also, Nigeria has reported a steady rise in COVID infections in what has been confirmed as the fourth wave of the pandemic by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

Director-General of NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa in December said Nigeria has recorded a 500% increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks across the country caused by the Delta and Omicron variants.