CELEBRATION TO ALL NIGERIA:President Buhari’S Chief of Staff,Abba kyari dies of coronavirus complications
The ravaging COVID-19 pandemic claimed its biggest victim in Nigeria late yesterday, with the death of Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari. He died of complications from the virus at a Lagos hospital.
Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, confirmed the sad news in a tweet: “Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari, passes on. May God rest his soul. Amen. Funeral arrangements to be announced soon.”
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu also confirmed the death in a terse chat posted on his Twitter handle.
He said: “Presidency regrets to announce the passage of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari. The deceased had tested positive to the ravaging COVID-19, and had been receiving treatment. But he died on Friday, April 17, 2020. May God accept his soul. Funeral arrangements will be announced shortly.”
It was made public that Kyari tested positive for COVID-19 late last month, following an official trip to Germany nine days before. It was also reported that Kyari had underlying medical conditions. He later rejected these claims, and announced his movement from Abuja to Lagos for further treatment.
While in office, Kyari was an influential figure within the Buhari administration.
During the administration’s first term, he worked mainly behind the scenes to implement the president’s agenda. He also did same during the President’s second term until his death yesterday.
As an avalanche of tributes poured in on social media, especially Twitter, the Minister of state, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo took to his Twitter page to recount his last moments with the deceased.
He wrote: “When I chatted with him exactly on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, he assured me his health was fine and that he would faithfully take the treatments. But God always knows best. Sincere condolences to the Kyari family and the Government of Nigeria. Adieu Mallam Abba Kyari.”
Also speaking, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy also expressed sadness at the death.
He wrote: “May the Almighty Allah forgive and be Merciful to Malam Abba Kyari (Chief of Staff to the President). May He (SWT) bless us with a good end.”
Meanwhile, the federal government yesterday attributed the sudden rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in the country to the implementation of a new case-finding strategy, as well as the result of rising community transmission.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who disclosed this in Abuja at the media briefing by the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19, said health officials had commenced house-to-house and cluster testing, using the revised criteria for sample collection.
On the same day, figures from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) showed that a record 51 new cases were recorded yesterday, with total number of confirmed cases now 493, from the 442 recoded on Thursday. 159 had been discharged with 17 deaths recorded as at yesterday.
Ehanire explained that more people with COVID-19 were being detected and transferred to treatment centres, adding that there will still be need for more social mobilisation for community testing at grassroots level and Isolation of positive cases.
“We shall ensure the right message is disseminated to control ongoing transmission. In this regard, I must again emphasise that citizens are obliged to disclose complete and accurate information to health workers, especially about their travel history or contact with persons who have or had COVID-19. This is important for two main reasons: full disclosure allows health workers to promptly, investigate, diagnose and treat correctly, to improve chances of patient survival and recovery.
“The right information also keeps the health workers safe. Withholding the truth puts both the user and caregiver at risk, but also other patients on site,” he said.
Speaking during the media briefing yesterday, the Director General of the NCDC, Dr.
Chikwe Ihekweazu said that the centre has approved a new testing strategy which will be uploaded on its website so that all interested stakeholders can have access to it.
“Today we are pleased to announce a national strategy to scale up the Coronavirus disease testing in Nigeria and we are putting it up on our website. People can tell us their thinking about state governments and other private sector stakeholders. The strategy shows the direction NCDC is headed and how they can come in. This leverages on validated technologies available for testing at the moment,” he said.
The NCDC DG said that one of the key aspects of the strategy was not only to leverage on existing infrastructure for testing, but also to rapidly include other facilities that are used for other infectious diseases.
Giving more insight into the strategy, Ihekweazu said that the first thing was to expand the existing laboratory network and secondly to convert facilities used for testing HIV infection for use in testing COVID-19 cases.
He said the centre was able to secure supply of reagents on Thursday to test-run the converted machines at the national reference laboratory in Abuja.
He said that another option was to utilise an equipment known as Gene Expert machine to also scale up the testing for COVID-19 in the country. On this, Ihekweazu said that there are 400 Gene Expert, out of which 41 were now ready for use for COVID-19 testing.
He further said that there are plans to decentralise COVID-19 testing to all the 36 states and to rapidly improve the turnaround time for getting test results.
While responding to a question about the country’s apparent late commencement of mass testing for COVID-19, Ihekweazu said: “You know COVID-19 is unlike anything we have ever seen, and it requires very critical and fast thinking. I know that we might have been slow to get things scaled up, but anyone that had followed discussions around this disease outbreak will know that it is not only Nigeria that has struggled with initiating mass testing in their settings.