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Nigerian Foreign Minister Onyeama tests positive for coronavirus

Credit: REUTERS/AFOLABI SOTUNDE

Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said on Sunday he had tested positive for COVID-19, and became the first member of President Muhammadu Buhari's cabinet to contract the new coronavirus.

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ABUJA, July 19 (Reuters) - Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said on Sunday he had tested positive for COVID-19, and became the first member of President Muhammadu Buhari's cabinet to contract the new coronavirus.

Onyeama, 64, said on Twitter he had taken a COVID-19 test because of a throat irritation.

"Did my fourth Covid-19 test yesterday at the first sign of a throat irritation and unfortunately this time it came back positive," he tweeted. "Heading for isolation in a health facility and praying for the best."

Buhari's cabinet has been conducting executive council meetings virtually as part of measures to keep the government working while abiding by social distancing rules.

The government started a phased easing of lockdowns in May after implementing measures to slow the spread of the virus, which has killed 778 people in Nigeria and infected more than 36,000.

Onyeama has played a role in repatriating Nigerians stranded because of travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Buhari's former chief of staff, Abba Kyari, died in April from the novel coronavirus, making him the most high profile person in the country to die from the virus.

(Reporting by Camillus Eboh and Felix Onuah, Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

((chijioke.ohuocha@thomsonreuters.com; +234 703 4180 621; Reuters Messaging: chijioke.ohuocha.thomsonreuters@reuters.net))

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