COVID-19: Lagos Govt Takes Delivery Of 50 Hand Washing Devices

A file photo of people washing hands.
A file photo of people washing hands.

 

The Lagos State Government’s continued partnership with the private sector yielded yet another fruit on Tuesday as the government officially received 50 handwashing devices donated for use in public institutions in the State by Fate Foundation. 

The devices, which were made locally, were received by the Office of Sustainable Development Goals and Investment (OSDG&I) at a ceremony held in Ilupeju, Lagos.

Speaking at the ceremony, Special Adviser to the Governor on Sustainable Development Goals and Investment, Mrs. Solape Hammond, who received the devices on behalf of the State Government, expressed delight that another partnership is yielding positive fruits.

“Today’s ceremony is a testimony to the viability of an ongoing policy of the State Government, which continues to yield tremendous results. What FATE Foundation has done with this partnership is quite commendable, and I am elated to witness it.

“It’s particularly noteworthy that these devices, which will boost our efforts to curtail the spread of the coronavirus, were fabricated here in Lagos. That way, it has also contributed to the development of entrepreneurship skills amongst youths in the state,” she added.

Hammond also stressed the significance of hand washing especially in all public places as fundamental in curbing the spread of the deadly Coronavirus and most importantly in improving individuals’ personal hygiene. 

“Today’s success story lends credence to what we can achieve for posterity when we come together and embrace positive action towards achieving all the 17 sustainable development goals. As long as we continue to work together, focus on hygiene and all key elements of making sure the pandemic is handled well, Lagos and indeed Nigeria will emerge victorious from the pandemic.” Hammond concluded.

Also speaking at the event, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on SDGs, Mr. Lekan Fatodu, said the donation was a double win for the state as it addresses multiple development goals.

“This is an ideal case of killing three birds with one stone. This singular donation addresses SDG three, which is good health and well-being; goal nine, which is industry, innovation and infrastructure; and goal 17 which focuses on forming strategic partnerships towards achieving the development goals,” he said.

In his remark, Mr Ahmed Ayinla, who invented the device, expressed his delight to have contributed his quota to the development of the State and the fight against COVID-19. He praised FATE Foundation Entrepreneurial programme for giving him a platform to thrive and be a change maker. 

“If not for FATE Foundation’s training and funding to produce the 50 devices, the dream and drive in me might have died,” he said.

He also stressed his belief that the invention would go a long way in curtailing the spread of COVID-19 in Lagos State in particular and in Nigeria at large. 

Speaking on behalf of FATE Foundation, Mrs. Nike Adeyemi appreciated the Lagos State Government for their partnership and adoption of private initiatives in driving its development agenda.  She highlighted some other initiatives of FATE Foundation to include: free COVID-19 testing of over 800 individuals in Lagos University Teaching Hospital, training and funding of young entrepreneurs, wealth creation through tailored projects among other wonderful initiatives. 

She stated that the handwashing devices were made of recycled and sustainable materials and have been projected for distribution in public places such as schools, markets, and health centers.

The Chairman, Odi-Olowo Ojuwoye LCDA, Hon. Rasaq Ajala, commended FATE Foundation’s initiative towards supporting young entrepreneurs to discover their talents. 

“I’m glad that FATE Foundation has thrown their weight behind the Lagos State Government’s drive towards curtailing the spread of the coronavirus. And the way they have gone about it, tapping into the resourcefulness and creativity of our youth, is to be commended,” he said.

While praising the Lagos State Government for promoting public private partnerships towards deliver good governance, he encouraged other nongovernmental organizations to also come on board to support the administration’s development project in all sectors of the State’s economy.

Spain Extends Ban On Arrivals From UK, Brazil, South Africa

Map of Spain

 

Spain on Tuesday extended its ban on arrivals from Britain, Brazil and South Africa until March 16 to safeguard against the spread of new coronavirus strains from these countries. 

Only legal residents or nationals of Spain and the neighbouring micro-state of Andorra are currently allowed in on flights from these countries.

The restriction on arrivals from Britain was imposed at the end of December to halt the spread of the highly contagious Covid-19 variant discovered there in November.

The ban on arrivals from Brazil and South Africa came into effect on February 3.

The only exception are passengers in transit who cannot leave the airport nor remain there longer than 24 hours.

It is the fifth time the ban on British arrivals has been extended.

Last week, Spain also imposed an obligatory 10-day quarantine period on those arriving from South Africa or Brazil — or seven days in the case of those able to show a negative test.

Other European nations have also imposed curbs on arrivals from the three nations due to fears that the new variants may spread more easily or contain mutations that allow the virus to evade the effects of vaccines.

So far, Spain has confirmed around 900 cases of the so-called British variant, health ministry figures show.

But the true figure could well be far higher. Health officials have previously warned the British variant could become the dominant strain in Spain by early March.

They have also confirmed six cases of the South African variant and one of the Brazilian strain.

Spain has been hard-hit by the pandemic, recording around 68,000 deaths from more than 3.1 million cases.

Unemployment Rise Leaves Nearly A Third Out Of Work In South Africa

Jetro Gonese and his braille typewriter. South Africa's anti-coronavirus lockdown has had a devastating impact on the visually impaired Luca Sola AFP
Jetro Gonese and his braille typewriter. South Africa’s anti-coronavirus lockdown has had a devastating impact on the visually impaired Luca Sola AFP

 

 

South African unemployment reached 32.5 percent of the workforce between October and December 2020, the national statistics agency said Tuesday, the highest level since record-keeping began in 2008.

The number of unemployed people increased “by 701,000 to 7.2 million compared to the third quarter of 2020,” a Stats SA statement said.

“The movement… resulted in a significant increase of 1.7 percentage points in the official unemployment rate to 32.5 percent,” it added.

South Africa, the continent’s most industrialised economy, was already in recession when the coronavirus pandemic hit last March.

Months of rolling restrictions to stem the virus have stifled economic activity and bled tens of thousands of jobs.

Most of the latest unemployment increase was seen among workers aged between 25 and 34, followed by the 15-24 group.

Most job losses were observed in finance, community and social services, and manufacturing.

The 32.5 percent unemployment rate is the highest ever registered by South Africa’s quarterly labour force survey, surpassing the previous record of 30.8 percent in the third quarter of last year.

‘Getting worse’

Stats SA also said however that a benchmark of underlying joblessness that is not included in the official unemployment rate showed a slight fall.

The “expanded” unemployment rate, which includes people too discouraged to actively seek work, fell by half a percentage point to 42.6 percent at the end of 2020.

The joblessness figures reflect “the dire consequences of the strict COVID-19 lockdown measures” that “hurt business profitability and confidence, forcing companies to restructure their operations,” and lay off workers, Nedbank analysts said.

The figures were released on the eve of an annual national budget speech, during which the government details spending plans for the coming financial year.

Unions have planned strikes nationwide to protest stiffer economic challenges and job losses.

“The situation is getting worse,” said Frank Nxumalo, spokesman for the Federation of Union South Africa (FEDUSA).

“There are more people of working age who are unemployed than those employed, which means the labour market is not creating any jobs,” he noted.

The International Monetary Fund estimates that South Africa’s economy contracted by eight percent last year, and has forecast growth of just three percent for 2021.

Ukraine Receives First COVID-19 Vaccine Doses

This handout picture taken and released by Ukraine’s health ministry press-service on February 23, 2021 shows workers unloading a plane carrying 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine at Kiev’s airport Boryspil. – After several delays, Ukraine on February 23, 2021 finally received its first shipment of Covid-19 vaccine doses. (Photo by Handout / Ukraine health ministry / AFP) 

 

After several delays, Ukraine on Tuesday finally received its first shipment of Covid-19 vaccine doses.

The country of 40 million people is one of the poorest in Europe and one of the last in the region to begin inoculating its population.

A plane carrying 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, marketed under the name Covishield and produced at the Serum Institute in India — the world’s largest vaccine maker — landed at Kiev’s Boryspil airport.

“It has arrived,” health ministry spokeswoman Sofia Fedchenko told AFP.

Health Minister Maksym Stepanov was due to detail the ex-Soviet country’s vaccination strategy at a press conference later Tuesday.

President Volodymyr Zelensky had faced criticism for failing to obtain vaccines earlier for Ukraine, which suffers from an ageing healthcare system.

Zelensky has blamed the delay on wealthier Western countries that reserved the Pfizer and Moderna jabs in bulk, and has urged the EU to help eastern European countries source vaccines.

His government had originally announced that it would begin its vaccination campaign in mid-February, but the shipment of the first vaccine doses was delayed.

Ukraine is also awaiting delivery of eight million doses promised under the World Health Organization’s Covax programme.

Kiev has said it has also secured 17 million doses of vaccines developed by Novavax and AstraZeneca, including the 500,000 that arrived Tuesday.

It has also said it signed a contract to receive 1.9 million doses of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine.

Breakaway regions in the east controlled by Kremlin-backed separatists began a vaccine drive with Russia’s Sputnik V jab in early February.

Ukraine earlier this month banned vaccines developed by “aggressor states”, a designation Kiev has applied to Russia since 2015.

Ukraine’s pro-Western leadership has repeatedly rejected calls from pro-Moscow politicians to approve Sputnik V, denouncing the vaccine as a geopolitical tool.

Ukraine has recorded over 1.3 million cases and more than 25,000 deaths from the virus.

Austria Bets On Millions Of Tests To Contain COVID-19

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 4, 2020 People get coronavirus tests at the Stadthalle city hall in Vienna, Austria, where a test centre has been installed as mass coronavirus testing started in the states of Vorarlberg and Tyrol as well as the capital Vienna. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

 

While Austria has struggled to contain the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, it is fast emerging as a world leader in testing as a way to reopen schools and businesses.

The small nation with a population of just under nine million tested three million people last week alone, with the mass-testing strategy forming a key plank for getting pupils back into the classroom.

Half of those three million tests were administered in schools, where twice-weekly tests have been mandatory since in-person lessons restarted earlier this month.

Only a tiny percentage of parents have refused to have their children tested under the scheme — and those children are not allowed to return to school.

The other 1.5 million tests were carried out at more than 500 dedicated centres, around 900 pharmacies and roughly 1,000 companies.

“Our strategy is to have a high frequency of tests and to make them very easily accessible — it’s the only way to keep the pandemic in check,” Katharina Reich, the health ministry’s chief medical officer, told AFP.

A negative test result, no older than 48 hours, is now required at a range of locations — from hair salons to elderly care homes, or ski resorts.

The seven-day average of daily tests is 24 per 1,000 in Austria, compared to 7.7 in Britain and just 1.77 in neighbouring Germany, according to the Our World In Data website.

“But we want that to be higher — much higher,” Reich said, explaining that the goal is “for 60 to 70 percent of the population to get tested at least twice a week, or even three times a week if they want to see risk groups, like the elderly.”

She says tests are a key weapon in the fight against the pandemic until the vaccine rollout has been completed.

From March 1, every person will be allocated up to five “living-room” antigen tests, so called because they only require a shallow swab of the nasal cavity and so can be done at home.

– ‘Return to normality’ –

Yveta Unzeitig, who has already been tested several times because the publishing house she works at participates in the testing drive, said she thought expanding tests was a good idea.

“It sounds smart, but they should do it for everything — with a negative test, I’d also like to be able to go to a restaurant, or for a coffee with friends,” she said, referring to the still closed hospitality industry.

“It sounds like it’d make all of us safer, and like we’d then able to return to normality,” said her daughter Yvonne, who works at an insurance company.

Professor Monika Redlberger-Fritz, head of department at Medical University Vienna’s centre for virology, says that turning up as many cases as possible through testing is “very, very important”.

However, she cautions that a negative antigen result from a nose or throat swab only shows that the person is not highly contagious — not that he or she is not contagious at all.

“Just because you take the test, that doesn’t mean that you can go straight to your grandma and hug her and kiss her,” she said.

FFP2 masks and an interpersonal distance of two metres (six feet) continue to be mandatory in places like stores and public buildings.

Like elsewhere, Austria is also contending with the spread of virus mutations, including the more infectious South African variant.

– Pandemic fatigue –
How successful the millions of tests have been will be evaluated over the coming weeks, especially by looking at changes in intensive care unit capacities, said Redlberger-Fritz.

Increasing testing is partly a response to growing resistance to lockdowns — hundreds now protest against the government’s pandemic measures every weekend — and a widespread “pandemic fatigue”.

The first mass testing drives began late last year, but the initiative seemed to falter as relatively few people turned up to the designated centres: “Mass tests without masses,” ran the headlines.

However, making tests mandatory for some sectors and investing more in public awareness campaigns seems to have had the desired effect.

At one pharmacy in Vienna, 21-year-old Sascha said he, like many Austrians in recent weeks, had got a test “to be able to get a haircut”.

But he said he finds the requirement “arduous” and says he will only get tested — or vaccinated — if he absolutely has to.

New York City Movie Theaters To Reopen

A man wearing a face mask walk past a closed movie theatre in Lower Manhattan during the coronavirus crisis. The Mayor of New York City announced new contributions from Citi bike, Mastercard and Facebook to help essential workers and small business amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Braulio Jatar / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AFP Images)

 

 

Movie theaters in New York City will partially reopen next month, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday, the latest easing of coronavirus restrictions in the Big Apple.

Cuomo said cinemas will be able to operate at 25 percent capacity, or up to 50 people per screen, from March 5 — almost exactly a year since they shut.

“Assigned seating, social distancing and other health precautions will be in place,” Cuomo wrote on Twitter.

Officials closed movie theaters on March 17 last year as Covid-19 began ravaging America’s commercial capital, where the disease has now killed almost 29,000 people.

In a statement sent to AFP, AMC’s CEO Adam Aron announced that the chain’s 13 movie theaters in New York would reopen on March 5.

AMC is the biggest cinema chain in the United States.

But Andrew Elgart, who owns three independent movie theaters in New York, told AFP he probably would not reopen on March 5, although he is considering the possibility of doing so later.

He said it wasn’t clear that reopening would be profitable under the current pandemic conditions.

Cuomo has been gradually easing restrictions in New York City in recent weeks as positivity rates fall.

Limited indoor dining returned on February 12, with restaurants allowed to seat customers indoors at 25 percent capacity.

Large arenas, including sports stadiums, are able to reopen at 10 percent capacity this week.

The New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets are set to play in front of 2,000 fans at their respective home games at Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center on Tuesday.

New York City’s seven-day rolling average of positive test results is hovering above the four percent mark, down from more than six percent in early January, according to state figures.

Why The US Has The Highest COVID-19 Death Toll

A coronavirus test site worker on site to answer questions from people arriving at a testing center in Los Angeles, California on December 16, 2020. – The situation has grown severe across southern parts of California, which was praised for its response at the start of the pandemic in spring, but which has seen Covid-related hospital admissions soar sixfold since mid-October. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)

 

 

The United States crossed the grim milestone of 500,000 deaths from COVID-19 on Monday, a year since announcing its first known death from the virus on February 29, 2020 in the Seattle area.

Why does the world’s leading power have the highest death toll and what lessons are American health specialists learning from the past year?

Here, infectious disease experts Joseph Masci and Michele Halpern provide answers to some of the key questions.

Masci, 70, is one of the leaders of Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, which was at the heart of New York’s epidemic.

Halpern is a specialist at the Montefiore hospital group in New Rochelle, a New York suburb where the epidemic arrived in force in February 2020.

– Why has the United States been hit so hard? –
Prior to this pandemic, the United States observed coronaviruses “from a distance,” explained Masci.

“There was SARS in Canada but very little or none in this country. There was no MERS here at all,” he said.

“There was a lot of preparation made for Ebola coming to the United States, and it never really did.

“Suddenly this (coronavirus) was a problem where the United States was the epicenter.”

Masci said it was difficult to compare the United States with other countries.

“I think smaller countries that had structured health care services had a good chance of bringing things into play quickly.

“In a country like ours, with 50 independent states, and a huge landmass, with largely a private hospital system, it is always going to be difficult to get everybody on board with one particular set of strategies,” he explained.

Masci added that Donald Trump’s administration had a “haphazard approach”, which did not help.

“The fact that hospitals were competing with each other to get personal protective equipment didn’t make sense. They had to centralize all of that very quickly and they didn’t.

“It was a struggle to try to deal with those obstacles that were put up,” he said.

Masci and Halpern rue that mask-wearing was politicized.

“It’s purely a health care issue,” said Masci, adding that it is going to be difficult for the federal government to “reframe” that message.

Halpern insists that people should not see mask-wearing as “infringing” on their freedom.

“There are other things we do routinely that you could say infringe our liberties like wearing a seatbelt or running through a red light,” she said.

According to the Johns Hopkins University tally, another 1,297 virus-related deaths were reported on Monday in the United States.

– What are the main lessons to be learned from the crisis? –
For Masci, the most important lesson was to learn how to reconfigure hospitals to make them able to cope with a sudden influx of patients.

“Now… instead of 12 hot ICU beds, you have to have 150. Where do you get them? Who do you staff on with? So now we’ve learned this lesson.” he said.

Masci said the group of public hospitals of which Elmhurst is a part found strategies to distribute the burden among NYC’s 11 public hospitals by transferring patients very quickly.

“We’ve turned from one hospital with 500 beds, to 11 hospitals with about 5,000 beds. It’s worked very nicely.”

More generally, Halpern says the pandemic has made everyone realize that “hospitals need resources.”

“You have to invest in research, but you also have to invest in hospitals, in nursing homes. They have to have enough staff, they have to have the equipment that they need and the personnel has to be happy,” she added.

The epidemic has also sharply exposed inequalities, not just in health care but also in housing, with Black and Latino communities dying in disproportionately high numbers.

“We have to look at housing, and how it can be better suited to handling future epidemics. There are others coming,” said Masci.

– Will we still be wearing masks in December? –
Vaccines are rolling out but health experts are cautious due to uncertainties surrounding the British and South African variants of the virus.

Masci says that if the variant strains don’t turn into a huge problem and once we’ve reached the point where 70-80 percent of the population is vaccinated then “there’s a good chance” we won’t wear masks anymore.

“(But) suppose these variant strains do take hold, become more of a problem, are vaccine resistant, and we’re all closing schools and putting masks and locking down again in a few months, (then) it’s a lot harder to say by December, ‘We’ll be out of the woods.'”

Halpern says it’s reassuring that the second wave was largely controlled, in New York at least.

“I have hopes that the vaccines will be effective and will tamper future waves. But it’s hard to be sure whether our vaccines will be effective in the longer term, or on new variants. I don’t think anyone knows that.

“So we have to be prepared that we’re in this for a while,” she said.

In the long term, Masci says countries must not “fall into the trap” of forgetting about the pandemic once it has passed.

“It is unnerving to think that this came without warning. It’s caused so much restructuring of everything.

“We have to have a more meticulous global search for new pathogens because we’re living in a time now where there is no, ‘Something is happening in Asia and it’s not going to happen in America.'”

Vaccine Hopes Boost British Pound

File photo: A nurse prepares to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Guy’s Hospital in London, on December 8, 2020. 
Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP

 

 

The British pound continued a frantic two-month rise against the euro and the dollar, reaching new highs this week in a sign of traders’ enthusiasm for the country’s vaccination roll-out.

Just before Christmas, investors feared the country would leave the European single market without a post-Brexit trade agreement.

At the same time, a deadly second wave and new, more transmissible coronavirus variants pushed infection rates up and saw the death toll soar.

It currently stands at more than 120,000 — one of the worst in the world.

But since December, the pound has gained more than five percent against the euro and US dollar, making it a top performer among major currencies.

The jump is due to the number of people vaccinated: according to the government, one adult in three has already received a first dose, representing more than 17.5 million people.

Another reason for optimism is Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s publication Monday of a “cautious but irreversible” roadmap to ease lockdown restrictions by July.

“After a year in which the government’s reputation was soured by a string of policy U-turns, the UK has made good decisions regarding vaccines,” Jane Foley, head of FX strategy at Rabobank, told AFP.

“The vaccine rollout has improved the economic outlook in the UK relative to elsewhere, especially in the EU,” Capital Economics added in a note.

– Positive rate –
“Markets are still adjusting to the fact that the Bank of England is unlikely to implement negative rates for now,” added analysts at Swiss bank UBS.

Like other central banks, the Bank of England adopted a record low interest rate of just 0.1 percent to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic.

But traders were mainly worried it would adopt a negative rate like the European Central Bank or the Bank of Japan.

At its last monetary policy meeting, the bank took that option off the table until August, and governor Andrew Bailey said it might not be implemented then either.

As a result, forex traders began to bid up the pound against the dollar and the euro.

Unlike Europe’s single currency, whose strength has weighed on exports, the pound is still at relatively low levels.

While it is just above $1.40 at a near three-year high, the British currency is still six percent below levels seen before the June 2016 Brexit referendum, and 12 percent down against the euro.

“A stronger pound is another headwind for UK exporters and provides some small relief for households,” noted Paul Dales of Capital Economics.

“But it’s not going to make a big difference to the economy.”

Foley warned that “there are speed bumps ahead”.

The effectiveness of vaccines against coronavirus variants and the strength of the UK recovery will determine if the pound remains at its current levels or not, she forecast.

And another risk looms on May 6 when elections for the devolved parliament in Scotland could give fresh impetus to the pro-independence movement, she added.

Tuesday Update: Is Nigeria About To Exit COVID-19 Second Wave?

Good morning,

We are leading with updates on the farmers-herdsmen crisis and the very pertinent question of whether Nigeria will soon exit the second wave of the pandemic.


A file photo of Benue state Governor Samuel Ortom
A file photo of Benue state Governor Samuel Ortom

Governors Continue War Of Words

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom on Monday described his Bauchi State counterpart, Bala Mohammed as a terrorist based on his apparent support for herdsmen who move around with AK-47.

Mr. Mohammed had said herdsmen had no option but to wield AK-47s to protect themselves, due to the security situation in the country. After drawing criticism from several quarters, including from Mr. Ortom, the Bauchi Governor said he had used AK-47 as a figure of speech for protection.

Governor Bala argues that herdsmen are exposed and need to protect themselves.

But Mr. Ortom’s latest comment shows he remains unhappy with Mr. Mohammed’s position.

Quote: “I am beginning to think that my brother, the governor of Bauchi State is part of the terrorist Fulani organisation that is terrorising this country,” Mr. Ortom said at his Monday press conference.

Context: The farmers-herdsmen conflict is an inflammable issue. Farming-centric states like Benue have pushed back against the free movement of cattle, but herdsmen communities, mostly Fulanis, claim they have been unfairly targeted for practicing their nomadic lifestyle. The conflict has devolved into various forms of violence and governments, both states and federal, are exploring a number of options – ranching, ban on open grazing – to tackle the problem.

Babagana Zulum: The Borno State Governor said the time has come to transform livestock production in the country as a way to tackle the farmers-herdsmen crisis.


Sheikh Ahmad Gumi made an appearance on Channels TV's Politics Today on February 22, 2021.
Sheikh Ahmad Gumi made an appearance on Channels TV’s Politics Today on February 22, 2021.

Sheikh Gumi Makes Case For Fulani-Herdsmen Bandits

Since he met with Fulani-herdsmen bandits in the bush, popular Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi has attracted national attention.

In an exclusive interview with Channels Television on Monday, the cleric reiterated his calls for the government to grant repentant bandits amnesty and reintegrate them into society.

Gumi’s stance has been roundly criticised for pampering criminality, but he maintains that the bandits are a victim of circumstances.

Quote: “I think it is a population that is pushed by circumstances into criminality,” he said. “And this is what we should look, let’s remove the pressure, let’s remove the things that made them into criminals because we have lived thousands of years without any problems with the nomadic herdsmen. They are peaceful people. But something happened that led them to this.”


The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire.

Nigeria To Exit Second Wave Of COVID-19?

Health Minister Osagie Ehanire, on Monday, suggested that the country may soon exit the second wave of the pandemic as the rate of new COVID-19 infections slows down.

“We are, however, not drawing conclusions yet and certainly not declaring victory, but rather watching developments as they unfold nationally and internationally, ready to make use of comparative advantages that may emerge,” the Minister said.

On Monday, Nigeria recorded 542 new cases of the virus and 23 deaths, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has said the country will soon receive four million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.


What else is happening?

Aminu Tambuwal: The Sokoto State Governor has called on the need for Nigerians to live in peace with one another irrespective of their belief, tribe, or religion. He made the call while assenting to Sokoto’s hisbah law.

President Muhammadu Buhari met with Senate President Ahmed Lawan at the State House in Abuja on February 22, 2021. Bayo Omoboriowo/State House
President Muhammadu Buhari met with Senate President Ahmed Lawan at the State House in Abuja on February 22, 2021. Bayo Omoboriowo/State House

Ahmed Lawan: The Senate leader met with President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday to discuss the nation’s security challenges, among other topics.

Niger State: The 53 abducted travellers who recently regained their freedom have been reunited with their families. They have also been sharing their stories.

Rivers State: Gunmen have abducted a lecturer with the University of Port Harcourt, Dr. Jones Ayuwo, and a first-class traditional ruler in the state, Aaron Ikuru of Ikuru Town.

Ayo Fayose: The Federal High Court in Lagos has granted permission to former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, to travel abroad for further medical treatment. He must however return to defend himself in corruption charges brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the court said.

DRC: The government has blamed a Rwandan Hutu rebel group for the killing of Italy’s ambassador to the Central Africa nation.

China: Canadian ministers have voted to label China’s treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang as genocide, a move angrily slammed by Beijing as a “malicious provocation”.


And that’s it for this morning. See you tomorrow.

COVID-19: Nigeria Might Soon Exit Second Wave – Minister

The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire.

 

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has hinted that Nigeria might soon exit the second wave of the coronavirus disease.

Speaking during a briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Monday, the Minister said the country has been recording a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases.

He also observed decreased positivity rate from sustained testing in states, which according to him is synonymous with global trends.

“This trend in reduction compares with global observations of seeming decline in COVID-19 cases, signifying that the second wave may be receding,” he said.

“On 21st of February 2021, 521 new infections and 8 deaths occurred in 20 states. The sustained testing in states has decreased positively rate.

“We are, however, not drawing conclusions yet and certainly not declaring victory, but rather watching developments as they unfold nationally and internationally, ready to make use of comparative advantages that may emerge.”

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Nigeria To Receive Four Million Doses Of AstraZeneca Vaccine Very Soon – FG

The Minister also spoke of an outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in Guinea, noting that the Federal Government is closely monitoring the situation.

He also stated that the Nigerian government is collaborating with the West African Health Organization (WAHO).

“Nigeria is closely observing developments on the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Guinea and working with West African Health Organization (WAHO) to contain it in the outbreak country of Guinea and prevent the spread to other countries in the region.

“We are pleased to note that the ECOWAS countries adjacent to the epicenter are taking strict measures with regard checking movement of persons,” the Minister added.

Ehanire explained that Port Health Service officers have been on high alert to step up border surveillance of travellers arriving by air or overland from destinations around the outbreak country  to avert disease importation.

He explained that although Nigeria has been classified as a moderate Ebola risk country because of its distance from Guinea, health workers have been directed to report suspicious symptoms, including fever and bleeding in the community, among recent arrivals from the West African subregion.

The Minister also advised Nigerians intending to visit countries in the general area, to delay the visit.

COVID-19: Nigeria To Receive Four Million Doses Of AstraZeneca Vaccine Very Soon – FG

File photo of the SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha, addressing reporters at the PTF briefing in Abuja.

 

The Federal Government has said that Nigeria would receive four million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine very soon.

The chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha disclosed this on Monday during a press briefing in Abuja.

He said the “PTF has been assured that Nigeria shall receive the initial four million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines very soon and Nigerians will be adequately informed on developments.”

According to him, “multi-sectoral machinery will be deployed to enhance the logistics to the “last-mile administration” processes that have been put in place.”

Mustapha also called for the cooperation and support of all Nigerians, noting that “this will involve community mobilization, training, transportation, storage, operations, etc.”

READ ALSO: Taraba Resident Doctors Suspend Strike, Lose Member To COVID-19

The real work involves every sub-national entity, the Communities, the citizens, and the Civil Societies. We crave your cooperation and support to achieve this. The Honorable Minister of Health and the Executive Director (NPHCDA) will elaborate on this during this briefing.

While reassuring the citizens that no stone will be left unturned in the effort to access “safe and efficacious vaccines,” the PTF Chairman pleaded for patience and vigilance, pleading on the masses not to procure uncertified vaccines from the black market.

READ FULL SPEECH HERE:

REMARKS BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE PRESIDENTIAL TASK FORCE ON COVID-19 FOR MONDAY, 22nd FEBRUARY, 2021

​I welcome you to the National Briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) for today, Monday, 22nd February 2021.

2.​The issue of vaccines continues to dominate discussions and major policy and financial decisions by various countries of the world. As you are aware, NAFDAC in the course of the week granted emergency use authorization for the use of AstraZeneca vaccines in Nigeria. This decision was reached after due process by the regulatory body.

3.​Despite this milestone approval, which will obviously be a game-changer, the PTF wishes to underscore the need to continue to take responsibility by observing all the non-pharmaceutical measures. Vaccines remain critical in the battle but we must remain well informed because of the intense transmission which is putting enormous pressure on the hospitals, intensive care units, and health workers in our different communities. Let me state that decisions made by leaders and citizens will determine the level of our success in tackling the acute phase.

4.​The PTF has been assured that Nigeria shall receive the initial four million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines very soon and Nigerians will be adequately informed on developments. The multisectoral machinery will be deployed to enhance the logistics to the “last-mile administration” processes that have been put in place.  This will involve community mobilization, training, transportation, storage, operations, etc. The real work involves every sub-national entity, the Communities, the citizens, and the Civil Societies. We crave your cooperation and support to achieve this. The Honorable Minister of Health and the Executive Director (NPHCDA) will elaborate on this during this briefing.

5.​The PTF wishes to reassure Nigerians that no stone will be left unturned in the effort to access safe and efficacious vaccines. We, therefore, plead for patience and vigilance. We also plead with Nigerians not to procure uncertified vaccines from the black market.

  1. ​There have been preliminary results from the COVID-19 Seroprevalence Household Survey, which is on-going. It is to measure the seroprevalence of antibodies to COVID-19 in the population of selected states (Lagos, Enugu, Gombe and Nasarawa) by sex and age group based on fraction of asymptomatic, pre-symptomatic or subclinical infections. The survey was carried out by WHO protocol on SARS-COV-2 sero epidemiology and the outcome is quite encouraging. The DG NCDC will elaborate on this.

7.​In terms of numbers, statistics show that global cases and deaths have continued to decline. Most countries have registered significant declines in cases but amongst the top 5, the decline in Brazil is still minimal. The African Region has shown high decline and South Africa continues to record a sustained daily decline in cases. The WHO Country Rep will elaborate on this.

8.​As at 21st February, 2021, Nigerian statistics show the following:

Cases: ​​152,074

Fatalities:​​1,839

Recoveries:​​128,668

Active Cases:​21,567

No. of Tests:​1,489,103

9.​At the last briefing we informed you on the emerging issues on international travels involving the Emirates and the KLM airlines. Discussions are still ongoing through the Foreign Affairs and Aviation Ministries. Once again, we wish to assure Nigerians that our conclusions shall be in the interest of Nigerians. The Hon. Minister of Aviation will update you during this briefing.

  1. ​I now invite the HM-Health, DG-NCDC and the National Incident Manager to brief you.

11.​I thank you for listening.

 

Taraba Resident Doctors Suspend Strike, Lose Member To COVID-19

A member of the Association of Resident Doctors, Ameh Eneojo has died of COVID-19 in Taraba State.

 

The Association of Resident Doctors in Taraba State has suspended its over seven-week-old indefinite strike action.

This is sequel to the state government’s intervention in meeting some of its demands, while others are receiving attention at various levels.

President of the association, Ahmed Gabriel disclosed this to journalists at a press briefing in Jalingo, the state capital.

“The strike action is hereby suspended with effect from 12:00am (midnight) today 22nd february 2021. All ARD members are hereby directed to report to their various stations and LGA to resume work by 8:00am tomorrow 23/02/2021,” he said.

Regrettably, the association lost one of its members, Dr Ameh Eneojo to coronavirus disease and Lassa fever complications in the course of the strike.

“During the course of the strike, the association lost one of our dear colleagues in the person of Dr Ameh Eneojo Sunday to COVID-19 and Lassa fever, who died from renal complications on the 5th February 2021 while on transit after being referred to Irrua specialist hospital, Edo state for further treatment due to lack of Lassa fever specific dialysis machine within the state.

“This further reiterates the need for Lassa fever infectious disease diagnostic and treatment centre in Taraba State where this disease is endemic and has claimed lots of lives of healthcare workers and the populace.”

The association called on Governor Darius Ishaku to help facilitate the installation and activation of the molecular laboratory with PCR machines as donated by the northeast development commission at the state specialist hospital for quick diagnosis of Lassa fever patients.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Nigeria Might Soon Exit Second Wave – Minister

They also appealed that the state government immortalizes their deceased colleague by naming the center after him.

According to the association, should the government not meet its remaining demands, the resident doctors would not hesitate to down tool.

The resident doctors had embarked on the strike action on December 24, 2020 to press home some of its demands which includes, lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs),  non-payment of COVID-19 inducement and hazard allowances, implementation of 100% adjusted CONMESS, skipping and minimum wage, among several others.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has also reached out to the resident doctors in appreciation for the show of love in view of the public outcry for their return.

NMA Chairman in the state, Dr Nkantah Uwem, said that strike actions are preventable, should the government do the right thing.

He noted that the industrial action has done more damage than good as some of the doctors have fled the state for greener pasture.