Fresh facts have emerged on how Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari, violated the Quarantine Act to embark on a private treatment for his Coronavirus infection in Lagos against the directive and recommendation of senior government and health ministry officials.
After being denied the usage of the Presidential Intensive Care Unit at Aso Villa, Abuja, and considering the Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital isolation unit too low for his standard and or liking, Kyari opted to move to Lagos to find treatment for the virus.
Lagos has one of the most functional infectious diseases treatment and isolation centres in the country.
An Italian man, who first imported the virus into Nigeria in February, was successfully treated at the Lagos centre at Yaba before being declared free of the pandemic and released to go home.
Another 23 persons have also been treated and released from the facility.
In the face of a global lockdown and with many countries with functional health systems closing their borders to international visitors, the Lagos centre is perhaps one of the few places to successfully deal with Kyari's case at this time.
But against expectations and advice by Ministry of Health officials, Kyari has chosen to be treated at a private facility in Lagos where according to findings by SaharaReporters, there are already fears that other persons around the place could be infected by mistakenly.
Recall that after returning from trips to Germany and Egypt and being infected with the virus, Kyari went about his daily activities as Chief of Staff to Nigeria’s President and in the process exposed dozens of persons to the virus.
Hours after he was confirmed to have been infected, it emerged that three of his staff had caught the bug from him.
A senior health ministry official, who spoke with SaharaReporters on Saturday, said that the purpose of insisting that Kyari was placed in a public isolation centre was for proper monitoring and control of the infection spreading further.
“The purpose of the isolation centres is to get public protocols for monitoring and control of infections
“He can’t engage in private treatment since it is an infectious disease. It is wrong under the law.
“It was the same arrogance that led him to bring the infection from Germany after failing to honour protocols that could have prevented spread,” the ministry official said.
Kyari’s decision to embark on private treatment against advice of government officials and top health practitioners violates the Quarantine Act and also runs foul of the speech Buhari gave last Sunday during his nationwide broadcast.
During the broadcast where he announced the lockdown of Lagos, Ogun and FCT in a bid to curb the spread of the pandemic, Buhari said, “As a government, we will continue to rely on guidance of our medical professionals and experts at the Ministry of Health, NCDC and other relevant agencies through this difficult time.
“I therefore urge all citizens to adhere to their guidelines as they are released from time to time.”
According to the act, “Health authorities of the places to which infected persons are proceeding are notified of their coming; they may be subjected in the places of arrival to a medical examination and such enquiries as are necessary with a view to ascertaining their state of health and may be required to report on arrival and afterwards at such intervals during continuance of surveillance as may be specified to the health officer of the city, town, district or place to which they proceed.”
But on Wednesday, Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi, said he does not know the whereabouts of Kyari in the city, indicating that the top Aso Villa official had violated the dictates of the Quarantine Act.
Abayomi said, “We’re exchanging information, but I haven’t asked him for his location. It has been a long time we talked about his health.”
Furthermore, Section 5 of the Act says, “Any person contravening any of the regulations made under this Act shall be liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a term of six months or to both.”
When asked on Saturday if any sort of action would be taken against Kyari for violating the law, none of the government officials approached by SaharaReporters were willing to respond.
“He opted for a private treatment with his own resources but why are others not allowed to treat themselves wherever they like?
“He has defied the regulations by treating himself in an unknown place. There is no evidence that the place he is being kept have been quarantined. This is totally wrong,” a Ministry of Health official said while expressing rage.
This disturbing development comes as the country grapples with the continued spread of the pandemic that has already seen confirmed cases rise to 209 and four recorded deaths.
There are fears that with over 6000 persons suspected to have come in contact with those infected now on the loose, the figure of confirmed cases could explode in the coming days.