Legal luminary, Afe Babalola, has said that detrimental bureaucracies have caused a lot of setbacks for Nigeria in areas of health-related research and other scientific innovations.
Babalola at this year’s Drug Discovery Africa Conference taking place at Afe Babalola University, in Ado, the Ekiti State capital, expressed disappointment that tax concessions that ought to be given for medical equipment importation are being set aside by the Nigeria Customs Service.
The legal icon is also displeased that a COVID-19 herbal remedy produced by ABUAD in the peak of the pandemic is still undergoing efficacy test by the Federal Government, describing it as symptoms of a country unsupportive of progress and breakthroughs.
Around 21 million people in the Chinese city of Chengdu effectively went into lockdown on Thursday as authorities raced to snuff out a new Covid-19 outbreak.
China is the last major economy wedded to a zero-Covid policy, stamping out virus flare-ups with snap shutdowns, mass testing, and lengthy quarantines.
Chengdu, in the southwest, became the latest city to announce a shutdown, saying in an official notice that residents must “stay home in principle” from 6:00 pm (1000 GMT) on Thursday to combat a new wave of infections.
Each household will be allowed to send one person out to buy groceries and essential goods per day, provided they have tested negative in the previous 24 hours, the notice said.
It said that all residents would be tested for the virus between Thursday and Sunday, and urged them not to leave the city unless “absolutely necessary”.
“The current state of epidemic control is abnormal, complex, and grim,” the announcement said, adding that the measures aimed to “decisively arrest the spread of the outbreak and guarantee the health of all citizens”.
Chengdu recorded 157 new local infections on Thursday, of which 51 displayed no symptoms, the city government said in a separate notice.
Children in at least 10 cities and provinces are facing disruptions to China’s new academic year as pandemic controls force schools to switch to measures like online learning, according to a news report on Thursday in state-affiliated media.
Xining, the capital of western Qinghai province and home to 2.5 million people, has ordered schools to conduct lessons online, rolled out a mass testing drive and told residents in its main urban area to work from home for three days.
China’s southern hub of Shenzhen said that new virus restrictions would come into force from 6:00 pm (1000 GMT) on Thursday in its Nanshan district, which hosts the headquarters of tech giants Tencent and ZTE.
The district government said it had ordered entertainment venues including bars, cinemas, and karaoke clubs to close, and started requiring residents to produce a recent negative Covid test to enter their housing compounds.
China has stuck to its zero-tolerance virus strategy despite disruptions from the fast-spreading Omicron strain and concern that the approach is stifling its post-pandemic economic recovery.
Last month, travellers in the southern island province of Hainan protested after more than 80,000 tourists were stranded in a resort city because of a Covid-19 flare-up.
Social media videos from the eastern megacity of Shanghai showed panicked crowds fleeing an Ikea store and another building as officials tried to impose local lockdowns in response to two suspected cases.
Joe Biden has tested positive for Covid-19 for a second time and is returning to isolation, his White House doctor said Saturday, attributing the result to “rebound” positivity from treatment the US president received.
The 79-year-old Biden “tested positive late Saturday morning, by antigen testing,” following four consecutive days of negative tests, and “will reinitiate strict isolation procedures,” presidential physician Kevin O’Connor wrote in a memorandum.
“This in fact represents ‘rebound’ positivity,” O’Connor wrote, referring to a situation in which patients treated with the drug Paxlovid — as Biden was — clear the virus but test positive after completing their course.
“The president has experienced no re-emergence of symptoms and continues to feel quite well. This being the case, there is no reason to reinitiate treatment at this time,” he added.
The second positive test came just three days after O’Connor said Biden had tested negative for the disease and no longer needed to isolate, which he had been doing since receiving a first positive result on July 21.
Around five percent of people who have had Covid-19 develop long-lasting problems with their sense of smell or taste, a large study said Thursday, potentially contributing to the burden of long Covid.
A lost sense of smell has been a hallmark of contracting coronavirus since the early days of the pandemic, but it has not been clear how often symptoms like this occur — or how long they can last.
Seeking to find out, researchers analysed the findings of 18 previous studies involving 3,700 patients.
In a new study published in the BMJ, they found that six months after contracting the virus, four percent of patients had not recovered their sense of smell, while two percent had not recovered their sense of taste.
It was unclear if this represented a full or partial recovery, however.
The researchers estimated that loss of smell may persist in 5.6 percent of patients, while 4.4 percent may not fully recover their sense of taste.
One woman told the researchers that she had not recovered her sense of smell more than two years after contracting Covid.
The researchers said that while most patients should recover their sense of smell and taste within the first three months of getting Covid, “a major group of patients might develop long-lasting dysfunction that requires timely identification, personalised treatment, and long-term follow-up.”
Danny Altmann, an immunologist at Imperial College London not involved in the research, said it was a “strong and important study”.
“Studies such as this alert us to the hidden burden out there of people suffering with persistent symptoms, but perhaps not having thought it worth contacting the GP on the assumption there wouldn’t be much to be done,” he said.
The research also found that women were less likely to recover these senses than men.
The cause of the disparity is not clear, but the researchers suggested women tend to have better senses of smell and taste in the first place, meaning they have more to lose.
The data did not include which Covid variant the patients contracted. Previous research has indicated that more recent Omicron variants are less likely to lead to smell loss.
President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, his administration announced, saying the 79-year-old leader was experiencing “mild symptoms” and would carry out his full duties while isolating at the White House.
Biden had been due to travel to Pennsylvania during the day, the latest in a series of trips around the country as he seeks to revive waning Democrat fortunes ahead of midterm elections.
“He is fully vaccinated and twice boosted and experiencing very mild symptoms,” the White House said in a statement, adding that Biden had begun taking Pfizer’s anti-Covid pill Paxlovid.
“Consistent with CDC guidelines, he will isolate at the White House and will continue to carry out all of his duties fully during that time.”
Biden is reported to be in good general health, but his age will heighten concern over the impact of Covid.
Politically he is in a tough phrase of his presidency, facing November midterm elections that are forecast to be painful for his Democratic Party, and declining personal approval ratings.
According to a study conducted by Quinnipiac University in the state of Connecticut and released Wednesday, Biden’s approval ratings have hit a new low, with only 31 percent of Americans satisfied with the way he is running the country.
Biden had planned to spend more time on the ground in the United States in the coming weeks after a period of intense overseas travel, including a NATO summit in Spain and a controversial trip to Saudi Arabia.
Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump had tested positive for coronavirus in October, 2020 — in the middle of their bitterly fought election race.
The news that he and the first lady, Melania Trump, had both contracted the virus was a shocking development at a time when the pandemic was still unfolding across the globe.
Trump, who was 74 at the time, was transferred to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he spent the weekend and received various treatments. He returned to the White House three days later.
The White House said Biden had last tested negative on Tuesday.
“Out of an abundance of transparency, the White House will provide a daily update on the president’s status as he continues to carry out the full duties of the office while in isolation,” it said.
“Per standard protocol for any positive case at the White House, the White House Medical Unit will inform all close contacts of the president during the day today, including any members of Congress and any members of the press who interacted with the president during yesterday’s travel.”
Fresh surges of Covid infections show the pandemic is nowhere near over, the World Health Organization’s chief lamented Tuesday, warning that the virus is running free.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was worried that case numbers were shooting up, putting more strain on health systems and workers.
The number of Covid cases reported to the WHO increased 30 percent in the past two weeks, driven by sub-variants of the Omicron strain and the lifting of control measures.
“New waves of the virus demonstrate again that Covid-19 is nowhere near over. As the virus pushes at us, we must push back,” he insisted.
He told a news conference that as transmission increases, governments must also deploy tried-and-tested measures like mask-wearing and improving ventilation.
“Sub-variants of Omicron, like BA.4 and BA.5, continue to drive waves of cases, hospitalisation, and death around the world,” Tedros said.
“Surveillance has reduced significantly — including testing and sequencing — making it increasingly difficult to assess the impact of variants on transmission, disease characteristics, and the effectiveness of counter-measures.”
Furthermore, tests, treatments and vaccines are not being deployed effectively.
“The virus is running freely and countries are not effectively managing the disease burden based on their capacity,” he said, both in terms of hospitalisation of acute cases and the expanding number of people with Long Covid.
– ‘Uncertain and unpredictable’ The WHO’s Covid-19 emergency committee met Friday via video-conference and determined the pandemic remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern — the highest alarm the WHO can sound.
WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan told the meeting recent changes in testing policies were hindering the detection of cases and the monitoring of virus evolution.
The committee stressed the need to reduce transmission as the implications of a pandemic caused by a new respiratory virus would not be fully understood, the WHO said in a statement Monday.
The group voiced concern over steep reductions in testing, resulting in reduced surveillance and genomic sequencing.
“This impedes assessments of currently circulating and emerging variants of the virus,” the WHO said, feeding the inability to interpret trends in transmission.
The committee said the trajectory of virus evolution and the characteristics of emerging variants remained “uncertain and unpredictable”.
It said the absence of measures to reduce transmission increasing the likelihood of “new, fitter variants emerging, with different degrees of virulence, transmissibility, and immune escape potential”.
– Booster boost – Meanwhile the WHO’s European office recommended a second booster shot of a Covid vaccine for older people and vulnerable groups.
Covid cases have been rising sharply since the end of May around most of Europe.
The call followed the EU’s health and medicine agencies recommendation on Monday of a second booster shot for people over 60 years old.
Coronavirus cases have risen 57 percent in Moscow over the past week, the Russian capital’s health authorities said.
“We recommend that you wear a mask in public places because the new Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5 spread more rapidly from person to person,” Moscow social services wrote on Telegram.
And hundreds of thousands of people were under lockdown in a small Chinese city after just one case of Covid-19 was detected, as Beijing’s strict no-tolerance virus strategy showed no sign of abating.
The steelmaking hub of Wugang in Henan province announced three days of “closed control”.
None of the city’s 320,000 people are allowed outside their homes until midday Thursday. Local authorities were to deliver basic necessities.
China is the last major economy glued to a zero-Covid policy, crushing new outbreaks with snap lockdowns, forced quarantines and onerous travel curbs despite mounting public fatigue and damage to the economy.
The new cases take the country’s total infections to 257,637, and the death toll to 3,144.
Of the 257,637 cases recorded since the outbreak of the pandemic in Nigeria in February 2020, Lagos State accounts for 100,641 infections followed by the FCT and the Rivers with 28,763 and 16,826 cases, respectively.