Barely three days after the Akwa Ibom State governor, Udom Emmanuel, announced that a student writing the ongoing West African Senior School Certificate Examinations examination in the state had tested positive for COVID-19, 20 more students participating in the terminal exams have been confirmed to have the infectious disease.
Mr. Emmanuel, who made the disclosure in a media chat in Uyo, did not mention the name of the student nor the school involved.
Similarly, on Thursday, the Permanent Secretary, Bayelsa State Ministry of Health, Inodu Apoku, said 20 students have tested positive for the contagion.
Mr. Apoku said the 20 positive cases were among 600 candidates writing the WAEC in the state that were screened, according to This Day newspaper.
Due to the rise in the number of COVID-19 infections, the Nigerian government had said it will not allow candidates in the country to sit for WAEC, a terminal examination for secondary school students in four West African nations – Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, and Liberia.
The examination has been rescheduled twice by WAEC also because of the COVID-19 incursion.
Making a U-turn after a virtual consultative meeting with relevant stakeholders, the education minister, Adamu Adamu, announced that Nigerians students will join others from the other West African countries to write the exams starting August 17.
Schools reopened from August 4 for students in exit classes for them to prepare for the exams.
Mr. Apoku, the official at the Bayelsa health ministry, said it was the safety measures put in place to check the contagion that aided the discovery of the 20 positive cases.
A recent data from the World Health Organization (WHO) had cautioned governments on ensuring full safety protocols before reopening schools, warning that 43 per cent of schools around the world lacked access to basic handwashing with soap and water in 2019 – a key condition for schools to be able to operate safely in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bayelsa official did not indicate if the students will write the exams in the isolation centres.
Meanwhile, PUNCH newspaper reported how the Gombe health commissioner, Habu Dahiru, on Wednesday, said seven students writing WAEC in the state tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of students infected with the virus to eight in the state.
The newspaper had also reported that an unnamed student who tested positive for the virus, began his WAEC from the Gombe state isolation centre on Monday.
Calls and texts messages to Chikwe Ihekweazu, the Director of Nigeria’s infectious disease centre, NCDC, seeking to find out if the agency is aware of reports of students writing WAEC that tested positive to COVID-19 in some states were not returned or responded to as at press time.
Nigeria has recorded over 53, 000 coronavirus cases leading to the death of more than 1, 000 people in the country.