The Nigerian Army says 26 personnel have so far been tested positive for COVID-19 following the death of the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 6 Division Port Harcourt, Maj.- Gen. Johnson Irefin.
The Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Sagir Musa, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday in Abuja.
Musa said that a total of 417 personnel had so far been tested as at Sunday in line with the directive of the Chief of Army Staff that all officers who attended the just concluded COAS conference be isolated and tested.
According to him, the late GOC, who died of COVID-19 complications on Dec 10, was among the officers, who attended the conference in Abuja.
He said that the cause of his death was reported as respiratory failure secondary to the complications of COVID 19 infection.
“On the confirmation that Gen Irefin’s COVID-19 test was positive on Dec. 9, the Chief of Army Staff directed the immediate suspension of the conference.
“And, all participants were directed to move into self isolation in line with the Federal Government protocols on COVID 19 pandemic,” he said.
According to him, equally, comprehensive testing of all participants commenced immediately.
“Consequently, as at Sunday the Dec. 13, a total of 417 personnel have so far been tested with 26 confirmed positive cases.
“Currently, all participants are in self isolation irrespective of their results while Nigeria Centre for Disease Control recommended COVID-19 treatment drugs were immediately issued to those that tested positive,” he said.
The army spokesperson also disclosed that all officers and soldiers working at the Army Headquarters were being tested while COVID-19 protocols were being strictly enforced across all units and formations of Nigerian army.
He said that the entire Army Headquarters complex was thoroughly fumigated on Saturday Dec. 12.
The report came as Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Control, Boss Mustapha, announced that he and his wife Olu have gone into isolation.
The infected military officers – Generals all – were said to have had contact with the late Maj.-Gen. Olu Irefin, who died from COVID-19 complications last week.
In a statement he personally signed, the SGF disclosed that self-isolation became necessary for himself and his wife because some members of his household had tested positive for COVID-19.
According to him, himself and his wife had taken the COVID-19 test immediately it was discovered that members of his family, who had been infected with the virus.
Mustapha urged all Nigerians to take caution and stay safe, noting that the COVID-19 scourge had become even more potent and dangerous.
He said: “I would like to inform the general public that some members of my household tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday evening.
“Although they are currently asymptomatic, they have been isolated and are receiving care in one of the government treatment centres.
“My wife and I tested negative, but will remain in self-isolation and work from home according to protocols by the health authorities.
“I would like to remind all Nigerians that COVID-19 is real. As the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced last week, we are recording an increase in cases across several states.
“Please stay safe and protect yourself. Adhere to all public health and safety measures so that we do not lose the gains we have made in the fight against COVID-19. As a family, we covet your prayers. Please, take responsibility for yourself and to protect our country.”
Relying on sources, Channels said the affected senior army officers were attendees of the 2020 Chief of Army Staff Annual Conference at the Nigerian Army Resource Centre in Abuja.
Besides, the late Gen Irefin was said to have visited some of his colleagues at home before he attended the conference.
To curtail further spread of the virus, all the officers who attended the conference, their wives, and other members of their families who live with them, have been directed to self-isolate for a week by the NCDC.
The sources revealed that the affected senior army officers were mostly those who came from outside Abuja and have been tested by officials of the NCDC.
However, others who were in the nation’s capital have yet to take the test for the virus.
It was learnt that the venue of the aborted conference – the Nigerian Army Resource Centre in Asokoro – has been decontaminated by health officials at the weekend.
Gen Irefin took ill at the 2020 Chief of Army Staff Conference last week and was taken to the hospital.
He was later confirmed to be positive for COVID-19 and was receiving treatment before he died.
The late General was the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 6 Division of the Army in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State.