Gov. Douye Diri of Bayelsa has dispelled rumors that he had contact with the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari, and Bauchi Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, who have both tested positive to the corona virus.
The governor cleared the air during an inspection tour of the isolation wards at the state-owned Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH) in Okolobiri on Wednesday.
The explanation is coming on the heels of speculations that Diri came in contact with both men during recent visits to the Presidential Villa.
The governor expressed surprise and decried the rumour, but did not elaborate if he would get tested to confirm his COVID 19 status.
Diri explained that he never met Kyari during the National Economic Council, NEC, meeting at the State House in Abuja on March 19 but that he sat close to the Bauchi governor due to the alphabetical sitting arrangement.
He said he learnt that Gov Bala Mohammed tested positive after he had contact with the son of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who had also tested positive to the virus, but that the March 19 meeting was before Governor Mohammed and Atiku’s son met.
“I have no link with Bala Mohammed and Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff to President Buhari. What happened was that in the NEC meeting we normally sit in alphabetical order. After Bauchi is Bayelsa in the seating arrangement.
“When we had the meeting, Bala had not had contact with Atiku’s son or Abba Kyari. At that meeting, Kyari was not present. We were told he was in Germany.
“So, actually I am surprised about the speculation that I had contact with the Chief of Staff,” Diri explained.
Diri who did not indicate if he was considering getting tested expressed his government’s preparedness to tackle any outbreak of the disease in the state.
He echoed the need for prevention and caution on the part of the citizenry by urging them to imbibe regular hand washing and use of sanitizers.
He equally commended the NDUTH for its ingenuity in the production of hand sanitisers and assured the institution of government’s support to boost its production.
Diri directed civil servants on Grade Level 1-12 to stay at home for two weeks with effect from Thursday, March 26.
According to him, only those on essential services such as medical and health workers, fire service personnel, cleaners and other related personnel were exempted from the temporary restriction.
The Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Health, Dr. Inodu Apoku, had earlier announced that burial and wedding ceremonies have also been suspended in the state for the same period.
Apoku said other decisions reached included the review downward of the number of persons at worship centres and other public gatherings to 20 from the initial 50.
The restriction order also affected night clubs and bars in the state as well as commercial vehicles and tricycles that had been directed by the state Ministry of Transport to reduce the number of passengers they carry.