Lagos Govt Directs Schools To Reopen January 18

Students of Rising Sun Children School wear face masks as a preventive measure to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in their classroom in Yaba, Lagos, on October 12, 2020. PHOTO: Benson Ibeabuchi / AFP

 

The Lagos State Government has ordered all public and private schools in the state to reopen for the second term 2020/21 academic session from Monday, 18th of January, 2021.

This was announced on Monday in a statement signed by the Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folasade Adefisayo.

She noted that this is in line with the Federal Government’s directive coupled with the second wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Adefisayo enjoined all schools to make efforts to comply with all the outlined Covid-19 requirements for resumption schools.

READ ALSO: FG To Kick Off 774,000 Jobs Scheme On Tuesday, Says Keyamo

According to her, this is “Not just for the improvement of overall school operations but for the safe reopening of academic activities to support the Lagos State Government’s quest for a full return.”

The Commissioner advised that schools should have flexible plans where students and teachers who feel sick can teach or learn from home via available online platforms, adding that schools should also strive to avoid any COVID-19 infection among all students and staff.

She also enjoined teachers, students, and visitors to wear facemasks at all times, observe physical distancing, embrace regular handwashing with soap under running water and maintain a high standard of personal hygiene within the school premises.

COVID-19 Disrupted Our Plans On Constitution Amendment, Says Omo-Agege

Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege

 

Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, has said the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the plans for votes to be taken on the constitution alteration bills in December 2020.

Omo-Agege who chairs the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Review of the 1999 Constitution, disclosed on Friday in his New Year message titled ‘We Must Not Give In To Despair.’

He, however, promised that all hands are on deck to ensure that the votes are taken soonest and the report of the panel would be ready in record time.

He said: “The Coronavirus pandemic disrupted our earlier plans to have the constitution alteration bills voted on sometime in December last year. Consequently, we will have those votes taken on each of these bills separately in not too distant time.

“I firmly believe that we are on course to true greatness. Let us keep hope alive as we renew our collective resolve to ensure that the dreams and labour of our heroes past are transformed into a better future for succeeding generations,” Omo Agege said in the statement.

READ ALSO: Govt Trying To Buy Time With Judicial Panels – #EndSARS Advocate

He also called on Nigerians to use the New Year to renew their commitment to collective prosperity, growth, and development by contributing more to nation-building and stressed the need for citizens to continue to demonstrate love and exhibit compassion towards one another.

The lawmaker acknowledged the resilience and perseverance of Nigerians in the midst of the socio-economic difficulties in the Year 2020, occasioned by the novel Coronavirus pandemic, and urged them to reignite their undying spirit and enter the New Year with vigour and hope.

“Covid-19 has upended the global economy with its devastating effects not only on health but on domestic economies and multilateral trade, cooperation and aid. It has led to a recession in various countries, killed over a million people, and wiped out millions of jobs.

“We are also confronted with security challenges in most parts of the country.

“As Nigerians, we stand together, confident that we shall again, overcome these challenges. Our ability to overcome our challenges collectively have never been in doubt, what we need now more than ever is to galvanise these unique qualities for the good of all.

“As a people, we must continue to imbibe the spirit of togetherness and love for one another. We must also support government at all levels by contributing our quota to the generation of wealth and the alleviation of poverty in the land,” he stated.

The Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Review of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) had earlier in August 2020 commenced the process of reviewing the 1999 Constitution(as amended) Alteration Bills and amending certain provisions of the law.

The Ad-hoc Committee which is chaired by Omo-Agege constitutes 58 lawmakers representing the 36 States of the Federation and the six geo-political zones. Other members of the Ad-hoc Committee include the eight Principal Officers of the Senate.

Since the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly, several constitution amendment bills have been proposed by lawmakers and referred to the Ad-hoc Committee for further legislative action.

US COVID-19 Outbreak May Worsen After Holidays – Scientist Fauci

Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies before the US Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to examine COVID-19, "focusing on lessons learned to prepare for the next pandemic", on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on June 23, 2020. KEVIN DIETSCH / POOL / AFP
Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies before the US Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to examine COVID-19, “focusing on lessons learned to prepare for the next pandemic”, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on June 23, 2020. KEVIN DIETSCH / POOL / AFP

 

Top US government scientist Anthony Fauci warned Sunday the worst of the pandemic may be yet to come, driving the country to a “critical point” as holiday travel spreads the coronavirus.

“I share the concern of President-elect (Joe) Biden that as we get into the next few weeks, it might actually get worse,” the infectious disease specialist told CNN.

Biden cautioned on Wednesday that the nation’s “darkest days are ahead of us — not behind us.”

Fauci, who has been encouraging everyone eligible to be vaccinated, revealed he felt fine after receiving a first shot and experienced “nothing serious at all.”

Surgeon General Jerome Adams added on ABC that, like Fauci, he’s “very concerned” about a post-holiday surge.

US holiday travel this year was down substantially on the festive season but remained significant.

READ ALSOIsrael Enters Third Nationwide Lockdown

Air travel averaged more than one million passengers a day for six consecutive days last week, according to the Transportation Security Agency.

Following last month’s Thanksgiving holiday, US coronavirus cases surged sharply in December, with more than 200,000 new cases and at times more than 3,000 deaths daily.

With intensive care units in many hospitals near capacity, Fauci reiterated that the country might be facing a “surge upon a surge.”

But with new vaccines now moving across the country — going first to front-line health workers and those in long-term care facilities — Americans have finally seen a glimmer of hope.

In this file photo Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci speaks during an unscheduled briefing after a Coronavirus Task Force meeting at the White House on April 5, 2020, in Washington, DC. Eric BARADAT / AFP.

 

Still, initial vaccine shipments fell short of promises by the federal government.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer was among those publicly critical of the process, but on Sunday she pointed to signs of improvement.

“It’s moving in the right direction,” she told CNN, after Trump administration officials apologized for vaccine delivery shortfalls.

“We are making great progress, but we need the federal government to do their part,” she said.

About two million Americans have been vaccinated so far, well below the 20 million the Trump administration has promised by year-end.

But Fauci played down the shortfall as a normal hiccup in a massively ambitious project.

“Whenever you roll out a large program … like this, in the beginning it always starts slow and then starts to gain momentum,” he told CNN.

He said he was “pretty confident” that by April all higher-priority people would have been able to get vaccinated, clearing the way for the general population.

AFP

Record Number Of Journalists Jailed In 2020, Says Watchdog

 

A record number of journalists were behind bars this year, a US-based watchdog said Tuesday, accusing governments worldwide of suppressing the media and fueling misinformation amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual report by the Committee to Protect Journalists found that 274 journalists were imprisoned in 2020 — the highest number since the non-profit organisation began its survey in the 1990s.

The report also found that 26 journalists and media workers had been murdered this year, with Mexico listed as the world’s most dangerous country for the press.

“It’s shocking and appalling,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said in a statement.

“This wave of repression is a form of censorship that is disrupting the flow of information and fueling the infodemic,” he added.

The worst offender was China for the second consecutive year, the survey found, with 47 reporters behind bars and where authorities only last week detained a Bloomberg employee on suspicion of endangering national security.

Other top jailers were Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, with Belarus and Ethiopia — where popular unrest and armed conflict flared this year — also seeing sharp increases in the number of reporters behind bars.

While the US had no reporters in jail as of the report’s release, the survey noted an “unprecedented” 110 had been arrested or detained through the course of the year.

The CPJ said the outgoing Trump administration bore some of the blame for the worsening global press freedom — not only for the US president’s lack of global leadership on human rights, but also his emboldening of authoritarians abroad with his hostility towards the media.

“The incoming Biden administration must work as part of a global coalition to bring the number down,” CPJ CEO Simon said.

British Govt Donates PPEs To Kaduna State

British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing presenting some of the PPEs to Kaduna State Deputy Governor, Hadiza Balarabe.

 

The British government has donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to Kaduna State for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing while presenting the PPEs to the Kaduna State Deputy Governor, Hadiza Balarabe, said the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over.

She added that the gesture is due to the long-time cordial relationship between the United Kingdom and Kaduna State.

READ ALSO: NAF Strikes Kill Several Bandits, Destroy Hideouts In Zamfara

She explained that the PPEs were given to the State Government to ensure that frontline health workers involved in the management of COVID-19 are adequately protected to provide services in a secure environment.

Receiving the items from the High Commissioner, Kaduna State Deputy Governor appreciated the government of United Kingdom, assuring to make judicial use of the items to ensure that health workers are properly protected.

See photos below…

 

Low-Income Countries Need To Spend $80bn To Close Social Protection Gap – ILO

 

Low-income countries in Central and Western Asia, Northern Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa would need to spend nearly 16 per cent of their GDP or $80 billion to close the social protection financing gap worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest policy brief from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has shown.

The study released on Thursday explained that additional sources of financing are needed to guarantee at least basic income security and access to essential health care for all in 2020 alone.

It added that developing countries should invest approximately $1.2 trillion – on average 3.8 percent of their GDP to close the gap which had been before the pandemic.

“Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the social protection financing gap has increased by approximately 30 percent according to Financing gaps in social protection: Global estimate and strategies for developing countries in light of the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

READ ALSO: New Zealand Plunges Into Recession As Economy Shrinks By 12%

“This is the result of the increased need for health-care services and income security for workers who lost their jobs during the lockdown and the reduction of GDP caused by the crisis.

“The situation is particularly dire in low-income countries who would need to spend nearly 16 percent of their GDP to close the gap – around US$80 billion, the report stated in brief.”

It stated that even before the COVID-19 crisis, the global community was failing to live up to the social protection legal and policy commitments it had made in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

“Currently, only 45 percent of the global population is effectively covered by at least one social protection benefit. The remaining population – more than 4 billion people – is completely unprotected.

Stressing further, ILO’s Director of Social Protection Department, Shahrashoub Razavi, said, “Low-income countries must invest approximately US$80 billion, nearly 16 percent of their GDP, to guarantee at least basic income security and access to essential health care to all.”

This is despite the measures taken nationally and internationally to reduce the economic impact of the COVID-19, by providing short-term financing assistance.

The study stated that “some countries have sought innovative sources to increase the fiscal space for extending social protection, like taxes on the trade of large tech companies, the unitary taxation of multinational companies, taxes on financial transactions or airline tickets. With austerity measures already emerging even with the crisis ongoing, these efforts are more pressing than ever.

“Domestic resources are not nearly enough. Closing the annual financing gap requires international resources based on global solidarity,” it emphasised.

The study suggested that mobilisation at the international level should complement national efforts, complementing the efforts of international financial institutions and development cooperation agencies who have already introduced several financial packages to help governments of developing countries tackle the various effects of the crisis.

“More resources are needed to close the financing gap, particularly in low-income countries,” the study said.

Poverty Has Increased Globally Due To COVID-19 – Gates Foundation

In this file photo, Bill and Melinda Gates are having a discussion with a man and a woman. Photo: Twitter- @gatesfoundation

 

The Bill & Melinda Gates says following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, poverty has increased globally.

The foundation also revealed that due to the pandemic 20 years of progress towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals) have been stalled.

This was revealed in a statement issued in Seattle, Washington by the Foundation in its annual Goalkeepers Report.

The report “shows that by nearly every indicator, the world has regressed. Because of COVID-19, extreme poverty has increased by 7%. Vaccine coverage, a good proxy measure for how health systems are functioning, is dropping to levels last seen in the 1990s, setting the world back about 25 years in 25 weeks.

“Economic damage from COVID-19 is reinforcing inequalities. The pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women, racial and ethnic minority communities, and people living in extreme poverty,” the statement read in part.

It also revealed that around the world, women are facing an increased burden from rising demands in total unpaid care work and experiencing the majority of job losses.

Despite these projections, Bill and Melinda Gates however describe a path to ending the pandemic and resuming progress toward the Global Goals.

In the report, which they co-author every year, they call on the world to collaborate on the development of diagnostics, vaccines, and treatment; manufacture tests and doses as quickly as possible, and deliver these tools equitably based on need rather than the ability to pay.

READ ALSO: UK To Sanction Individuals Who Perpetuate Violence In Edo, Ondo Elections

“The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us some of the best of humanity: pathbreaking innovation, heroic acts by frontline workers, and ordinary people doing the best they can for their families, neighbours, and communities. This is a shared global crisis that demands a shared global response.”

The report said further that no single country will be able to meet this challenge alone.

Any attempts by one country to protect itself while neglecting others will only prolong the hardships caused by the pandemic.

Developing and manufacturing vaccines will not end the pandemic quickly unless they are delivered equitably.

According to modeling from Northeastern University, if rich countries buy up the first 2 billion doses of vaccine instead of making sure they are distributed equitably, then almost twice as many people could die from COVID-19.

The International Monetary Fund projects that, despite the US$18 trillion already spent to stimulate economies around the world, the global economy will lose US$12 trillion or more by the end of 2021—the biggest global GDP loss since the end of World War II.

In some countries, spending on emergency stimulus and social protection has prevented worse outcomes. But there are inherent limits to what low- and middle-income countries can do to safeguard their economies, regardless of how effectively those economies have been managed.

Bill and Melinda Gates believe COVID-19 is a true test for the global community.

“One of the most troubling things about this pandemic is that by disrupting health systems and the global economy, it’s starting to erase the progress people have made toward living healthier, more productive lives,” said Melinda Gates.

There report also highlights the actions which the world can take to turn things around.

INEC Issues Guidelines For Workers Resumption Nationwide

INEC To Conduct Supplementary Elections In Kano, Sokoto, Four Others March 23
FILE PHOTO: INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, at a press conference. Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has issued guidelines for its workers nationwide to resume activities.

According to a statement by the commission the resumption of duty will be after the COVID-19 lockdown, and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic emergency.

The Commission notes that this is in line with the presidential directive of April 26 to gradually ease the lockdown measures imposed on the FCT Abuja, Lagos and Ogun States.

READ ALSO:COVID-19 Forces INEC To Suspend Regular Activities

The guidelines, according to the commission aim to reflect peculiarities of the Commission nationwide and it covers areas such as hygiene and personal health, sanitation within office premises, distancing measures, and related matters for it headquarters and state offices.

 

SEE FULL GUIDELINES BELOW:

 

(A) HYGIENE/ PERSONAL HEALTH

1. All offices of the Commission will be decontaminated before resumption and periodically to ensure environmental safety. Staff of our Facility Managers and INEC cleaners shall be trained on continuous disinfection/decontamination procedures.

2. The use of face masks is compulsory throughout the offices of the Commission, for all staff, visitors and contractors at all times.
a. Staff are encouraged to have their own face masks and will be guided on the
use of masks.

b. No staff/visitor should be allowed into the Commission without face masks.

3. Hand sanitizers will be provided at all entrances, exits and offices of the Commission. Meanwhile staff are encouraged to have their personal hand sanitizers.

4. Office clerks will be given guidelines on handling/decontamination of mails and files.

5. Funds will be made available to state offices to procure hand sanitizers for use in the office premises.

6. There must be provision of water and soap for hand washing at all entrances and exits of the Commission offices and during all Commission activities.

7. Infrared thermometers must be used at entry and exit points at all offices of the Commission, and proper protocols will be established for the operators.

8. The INEC Clinic and sickbay staff will be provided with and trained on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and early detection of COVID-19 symptoms. Specific guidelines will be made available to relevant staff handling the thermometer at the entrances on early detection of suspected cases.

9. Staff have responsibility to urgently report any suspected case with symptoms of the virus (cough, fever e.t.c) to the officer in-charge at the sickbay at the HQ, or any designated higher authority in other locations.

 

(B) SOCIAL DISTANCING MEASURES

1. Workspace distancing of at least two (2) metres should be adopted within offices, in the premises and the Commission meeting rooms.

2. There should be no loitering in the premises of the Commission by staff/visitors.
3. Under no circumstances shall visitors or contractors be allowed into the Commission except on authorized invitation by the Commission.

4. Visitors’ books must be maintained at each entry point and all floors, with contact details of all visitors. Wearing of identification cards and tags shall be strictly enforced.

5. Invitation regarding entry by visitors and contractors should be communicated to the main gate through a dedicated phone line.

6. Congregational prayers in the Mosque and Chapel are prohibited for the time being.

7. Use of canteen and other places of gathering (cooperative society meetings) are also prohibited for the time being.

8. Driving into the Commission should be limited to staff and other Government officials/ VIP visitors who may have been invited by the Commission.

9. The staff bus service is suspended for the time being until adequate measures to ensure social distancing and other safety measures are put in place.

 

(C) RESUMPTION OF WORK

1. Work hours shall be from 8am – 2pm, and staff are advised to strictly respect the curfew hours of 8pm to 6am.

2. Workdays shall be the alternate days of Monday, Wednesday and Friday (3days-a- week for now) based on the FG/PTF guidelines.

3. All heads of offices (National Commissioners, Resident Electoral Commissioners, Directors, and Heads of Departments/Units) are required to create a rotational roster of duty to limit staff that come to work on a given day to enable maintenance of social distancing within the offices.

4. The number of personnel working per shift at the Commission’s main gate and Commission’s entrances of all the Commissions offices should be reduced subject to consultation with the relevant service providers. This reduction extends to cleaners and other services being provided to the Commission.

5. Essential Duty staff will continue work as earlier approved by the Commission.

6. Only staff that own cars are allowed to resume work.

7. Staff that are resident in distant places and have to commute by public transport should stay at/ work from home.

8. Staff that travelled out of the FCT should remain until inter-state travel ban is lifted.

 

(D) CONDUCT OF MEETINGS

1. All meetings in the Commission should be limited to key participants and the duration of meetings be reduced to the necessary minimum.

2. Where necessary a combination of virtual and physical meetings should be held to minimize physical contacts; Zoom, Skype, Webinars and other Virtual interactive techniques will be explored and employed to meet internally and with external stakeholders.

3. Commission meetings and other meetings should be held at the Conference Hall or any other outsourced hall where the two (2) meter social distance can be maintained.

4. Wearing of face mask is compulsory at every meeting.

5. Meeting venues must be decontaminated before and after every meeting.

 

(E) STATE OFFICES

1. Re-opening of State and Local Government Area (LGA) offices will depend on existing lockdown guidelines issued by the respective State Governments.

2. Ondo and Edo state offices should re-open immediately due to the upcoming gubernatorial elections in consultation with the relevant State Governments for issuance of necessary permits.

3. Funds required to meet the hygiene protocols (decontamination, Hand sanitizers etc) will be made available to these two state offices as soon as possible, and to all other state offices as the need arises.

4. State offices should liaise with the various State COVID-19 Response secretariats on decontamination protocols for their respective States.

5. LGA offices should remain closed and open only where/when necessary.

 

MISCELLANEOUS CONSIDERATIONS

1. All staff above age 58 with underlying medical conditions (hypertension, diabetes, asthma, renal and hepatic diseases,) should work from home.

2. Other staff with underlying medical conditions should also work from home.

3. Pregnant and Nursing mothers should also work from home.

4. Stakeholder meetings should be conducted in line with guidelines on meetings above.

Edo Govt Bans Public Gathering After Recording First Coronavirus Case

 

Edo State government on Monday announced that a ban has been placed on public gathering of over 50 persons in the state.

The announcement was made by the state governor Godwin Obaseki during a briefing after the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in the state on Monday.

The first case of coronavirus was confirmed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on its verified Twitter handle.

READ ALSO: Confirmed Cases Of COVID-19 In Nigeria Rise To 36

The health agency in the tweet also reported an additional five cases of coronavirus bringing the total number of cases in the country to 36.

Also, schools are to remain closed in the Edo state and civil servants from grade level 1- 12 are to work from home among other measures to deal with COVID-19 threat in the state.

COVID-19 Deadlier Than Boko Haram, Says SGF Boss Mustapha

Mr Boss Mustapha says the Nigerian government is not slow in its response to tackling the COVID-19 Pandemic.

 

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha has described the COVID-19 pandemic as deadlier than the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast and other criminal activities in other parts of the country.

He made the remark on Sunday during his visit to Adamawa State to condole with the people of Garkida over its recent Boko Haram attack.

“I took the opportunity to speak to them on the current challenge that we are having with regards to COVID-19 and I said as dreaded as Boko Haram is, COVID-19 is vicious and most-dreaded (deadlier).

READ ALSO: Edo Records First Case Of Coronavirus

“One infection of COVID-19 can destroy a whole city, so I implore all of you to begin to speak to the people of Adamawa State and Nigerians concerning the adversity that can face us if we don’t take precaution,” Mustapha said.

He also spoke on the importance of social distance and maintaining personal hygiene like washing hands and avoiding handshaking.

He expressed President Muhammadu Buhari’s regret following the Boko Haram attack which resulted in the death of some security personnel, leaving properties worth millions destroyed.

He also noted that the Nigerian government is not late in its actions so far taken which are necessary.

“We are not acting a little late, we took steps by first identifying the countries that are a heavy burden; first we started with 13, and the next day we added two with the closure of three international airports.”