WHO Says New COVID-19 Variants Have Spread To Dozens Of Countries

File photo: A health worker wearing protective gear collects a swab sample from a man during a medical screening for the Covid-19 coronavirus at a garment wholesale market in Mumbai on November 20, 2020. India’s coronavirus cases passed nine million on November 20, health ministry data showed, the world’s second-highest tally after the US.


New COVID-19 variants that make the virus more contagious and could render vaccine and antibody protection less effective have spread rapidly across dozens of countries, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.

In its latest epidemiological update, the UN health agency said the more contagious COVID-19 variant first spotted in Britain had by January 25 spread to 70 countries across all regions of the world.

That variant, which is known as VOC 202012/01 and has proven to transmit more easily than previous variants of the virus, had thus spread to 10 more countries over the past week, it said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week also warned that fresh studies had indicated the strain could be more deadly, but the WHO stressed Wednesday that those “results are preliminary, and more analyses are required to further corroborate these findings”.

The WHO also said the variant of the virus first found in South Africa had now spread to 31 countries, eight more than a week ago.

Laboratory studies have found that that variant, 501Y.V2 “is less susceptible to antibody neutralisation” than previous variants, WHO said.

This has raised serious concerns that the variant poses a heightened risk of reinfection, and also could hamper the effectiveness of the growing number of Covid-19 vaccines coming to market.

The WHO said more studies were needed, but stressed that observational studies in South Africa did not indicate an increased risk of reinfection.

It also said that while studies by US biotechnology firm Moderna indicated that its vaccine  could potentially be less effective against the variant, “neutralising titres remain above the levels expected to be protective”.

The WHO said a third variant of the virus, first discovered in Brazil, was now in eight countries, up from just two a week ago.

That variant, called P1, has raised similar concerns it could be more contagious or cause more severe disease.

“Further studies are needed to assess if there are changes in transmissibility, severity or antibody neutralising activity as a result of these new variants,” the WHO said.

Yobe Govt. Calls On WHO To Support Rehabilitation of IDPs

Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Gaidam

The Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, has called on the World Health Organisation (WHO) to scale up its activities in the state, and contribute towards the post insurgency plans of rehabilitating the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the state.

The Governor stated this when he received the WHO country representative for Nigeria, Dr. Alemu Wondi at the Government House Damaturu, the state capital.

He said scaling up their activities in the state is required because no government, agency or Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) can on its own handle humanitarian crisis without any assistance.

“As the enormity of the humanitarian crises is monumental that no government, agency or NGO however endowed can handle, we decide to galvanized local, national and global support in addressing the numerous challenges.

“Hence we request the WHO to further scale up its activities in our state and key into our collaboration drive to ensure effective and efficient implementation of the envisaged multi-sectorial post insurgency intervention plan in the state”, the governor said.

Governor Ibrahim Gaidam also said scaling up the activities of the WHO and other international donor agencies according to the Governor, will enable the state achieve its set targets of healthier society for a healthy nation.

The Governor revealed that the state recently convened a humanitarian stakeholders retreat on coordination of humanitarian services for post conflict recovery and reconstruction, so as to ensure proper return and settlement of IDPs in the state.

He, however, commended the WHO for providing technical support for the conduct of monthly disease surveillance, review of surveillance focal site and outbreak investigation in the state among others.

The WHO country representative, Dr. Wondi congratulated the Yobe state government for the huge successes recorded in the fight against polio over the last three years.

“Let me congratulate the state for maintaining a polio free state for the past three years and let me put it on record that the polio committee under the leadership of the state Deputy Governor has been doing a fantastic work”, the country representative said.

He also described as enormous, the progress made so far in the health sector by Governor Gaidam and the remodeling of the major hospitals in the state, the setting up of the Yobe state University Teaching Hospital, the maternal and neonatal as well as the free medical services for pregnant mothers and accident victims among others.

Dr. Wondi assured to partner the state in improving the health care services across the state in the post insurgency era.

The WHO among several other agencies, government and NGOs have over the years been playing a key role in improving life among the people in developed as well as, developing states in the world.

Nasarawa Govt. Set To Curtail Meningitis Outbreak

The Nasarawa state government says plans are underway to vaccinate residents against cerebral spinal meningitis.

The Director of Public Health of the Ministry of Health, Doc. Ibrahim Adamu, revealed this in an interview in Lafia, the state capital.

Meningitis, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), is a bacterial infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord which has swept across 26 countries in sub-Sahara Africa, killing and disabling young people annually or cause severe cerebral brain damage before hours.

In Nigeria, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has reported that the disease has claimed more than 300 lives in Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina and Niger states.

During a visit to the Ministry of Health to ascertain level of preparedness towards curtailing eventual outbreak of the disease in the state, Dr. Adamu said, “We are making contact with the CDC to be able to procure vaccines that will immunise citizens of Nasarawa state”

He noted that the Ministry in the last three years had embarked on awareness campaigns and immunisation exercise as precautionary measures against an outbreak of the disease, stating that there is no case of cerebral spinal meningitis recorded so far in the state.

He then used the medium to appeal to the people of the state to avoid overcrowded spots, sleep in ventilated rooms and seek medical attention whenever they feel unusual.

“It affects usually young adults and people that leave in a very poor ventilated environment”, he noted.

On the part of residents, they urged the government to create more awareness on the dangers of the disease.

They also called on Abuja Electricity Distribution Company to make it available in order to control the hot weather being experienced.

“We need light, because in Lafia we have problem of that especially this our school environment.

“We hardly see light and that is causing a lot of sicknesses to the students.

“My appeal to the government, is to try to ensure stable electricity supply to all especially in Lafia where the heat is really intense”

Kogi Govt. Urges Residents To Take Child Vaccination Seriously

child-vaccThe Commissioner for Health in Kogi state, Dr. Saka Audu, has asked the rural community dwellers to shun all social norms that could discourage vaccination of children in the state.

He stated this during the official flag off of the National Immunization Plus Days

(NIPDs), in Lokoja, the state capital.

The commissioner noted that the vaccines were meant to prevent child killer diseases and cause no harm to the child.

The event which took place at the Government House premises, was attended by women and their children from the 21 Local Government Areas of the state.

Dr. Saka in his address, pointed out that NIPDs was set aside in the country to immunize children between the ages of one and five years old, with oral polio vaccine, along side other vaccines in accordance with the national schedule.

He therefore implored the administrators from the 21 LGAs in the state to make available adequate funds and other required logistics to the programme and ensure that the target groups were immunized.

He stressed that Kogi state has been polio free since 2009 and it was indeed a thing of joy for him that they were getting it right.

Furthermore, he noted that Nigeria was at the verge of being certified polio free by the W.H.O.

“I encourage you all to keep up the good work until we achieve total eradication of wild polio virus in Kogi state in particular and Nigeria in general.

“The health policies in this administration’s new direction blueprint, will bring great relief to all the people of Kogi, when it is finally operational,” he stated.

In his speech, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Health Matters, Dr. Ahmed Attah, commended the governor for graciously approving the release of counterparts fund for all health programmes in the state.

He noted that poliomyelitis was a deadly childhood disease that could cause disability by crippling the affected children and even killing them in some cases.

“One of the ways to deal squarely with the disease is the National Immunization Plus Days that has been scheduled from March 25 to 28, 2017 and every household in the state would be covered.

“Children would be immunized against childhood preventable diseases such as polio, diphtheria, pertussis, pneumonia, whooping cough, hepatitis b, measles and yellow fever according to the national schedule”, he noted.

Representative of the World Health Organisation (W.H.O), Kennedy Adejoh, in his keynote address said Nigeria was clarified as an endemic country.

Mr. Adejoh, therefore, reaffirmed the commitment of the W.H.O including the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to eradicate polio in Kogi state and in Nigeria in general.

On the other hand, representative of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Mr James Folayan, hailed Governor Bello for his efforts and commitment to the progress of the programme.

“Everything has been put in place and the stage is set for full implementation.

“I urge the state and all the Local Government Areas to continue the support with proper monitoring,” he stated.

Expert Advocates More Measures To Curb Tuberculosis

Expert Advocates More Measures To Curb Tuberculosis
courtesy: www.bolopakistan.pk

A medical expert, Alex Nkwuda, has advocated more precautionary measures to members of the public in order to curb the spread of tuberculosis.

He made the advocacy in an interview to commemorate World Tuberculosis Day in Lafia, the Nasarawa state capital.

The 2017 Tuberculosis Day themed: “Unite To End Tuberculosis”, was focussed on leaving no stone unturned to save lives.

Speaking on the significance of the day, the expert said it is mostly observed to sensitise the public on the dangers of the disease and how it affects the lives of humans.

Mr Nkwuda stated that the communicable disease could be contracted in an overcrowded environment and also through having a close contact with an infected person although it is curable.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO), has decided to map out strategies to put an end to the disease because it is actually curable and can be stopped.

“They are trying to map out strategies to see how they can unite with health workers, government, individuals, communities and social organisations to see how to end the disease”, he stated.

He, however, called the public to take health precautions such as sleeping in ventilated rooms, eating balanced diets and taking regular vaccination as well as going for regular check up to ascertain their status.

Mr Nkwuda also made a case for synergy between government and non-governmental organisations towards intensifying sensitisation efforts so as to curtail the disease collectively.

The World Tuberculosis Day is one of the eight official global health campaigns designated by the W.H.O to create enlightenment that tuberculosis remains an epidemic in most parts of the world which causes the death of nearly 1.5 million people each year.

FG Advocates Free Medical Services To Boost Production

Health-workers-strikeThe Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Folorunso Adewale, has advocated for free medical services in the country so as to boost production.

The Minister also noted that the plan is also aimed at freeing the nation from treatable diseases, as FG plans to establish 10,000 Primary Health Centres.

Adewale made the disclosure at Beji in Niger State, while flagging off ‘Pilot Functional Focal Primary Health Care Centre’ and Free Surgery Festival between Graceland Global Projects Limited with Niger State government in the 25 local governments in the state.

He attributed the effect of some diseases to poverty and lack of access to quick, effective medical services especially in the rural areas of the country and applauded the state governor for the foresight, commitment and caring for recognizing the value of health to the development of the people in the state.

The Minister promised to collaborate with the Niger State government in the areas of human and material support to ensure the success of the entire program in the state.

The Niger State Governor, Mr Abubakar Sani Bello, said it was part of his fulfilment for his political campaign promise to the people of the area assuring to health services accessible, affordable and sustainable in the state .

Gov. Bello further said that the government plans to establish a functional focal primary health care center in each of the 274 wards and essential health services to World Health Organisation (WHO) standard in all the 25 local governments in the state to improve the quality of lives of the people.

The Commissioner of Health and Hospital Services, Dr Mustapha Mohammed Jibril stated that about 170 health workers has been employed to replace the retirees and vacancies.

Jibril further said that two doctors were undergoing disciplinary actions over negligence that caused the death of patients to serve as deterrent to others.

He assured of the government’s commitment to revitalize the primary health care system in the state.


UNICEF Commends Zamfara Over Polio Eradication

Polio_NewThe United Nations International Children Fund (UNICEF), Kaduna field office, has commended the efforts of Zamfara State Government in its fight against poliomyelitis.

UNICEF Communications Officer, Mr Rabiu Musa, at an occasion to mark this year’s World Polio Day in the state, described the measures put in place by the state government as “remarkable and worthy of emulation by all”.

He said that if the state government maintained the tempo, the issue of poliomyelitis would soon be history in the state.

The representative of the state deputy governor’s wife, Mrs Hajara Janyau, earlier said the state had continued to receive various national and international awards following the initiatives it was putting in place to fight the disease.

She also said that the state government had doubled its performances in routine immunisation against the six child-killer diseases through the expansion of the scheme to cover all health facilities in the state.

In his contribution, the representative of World Health Organisation (WHO), Mr Yusuf Argungu, urged parents in the state to continue to present their children for immunisation against the six child-killer diseases.

NAN reports that many stakeholders in the health sector and traditional rulers attended the event, which took place at the Gusau Township Stadium.

NLC Commends FG for Victory Over Ebola

Issa-AremuThe Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has expressed delight with the cheering news of Nigeria being declared free of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In a statement issued in Kaduna on Monday, Vice President of the Union, Issa Aremu said the Nigeria’s victory against Ebola is a sign of good governance which must be sustained, and also urged the Federal, state and local governments to use the same zeal in the fight against Malaria and other killer diseases that are ravaging the country.

The NLC vice president commended the efforts and measures taken by the Federal and State Governments, particularly the Lagos State government and all stakeholders, to curb the spread of the disease in Nigeria.

“It is a mark of good governance that Nigeria applied a bi-partisan national approach to curb and curtail an epidemic of a disease without a cure and record a globally acclaimed achievement. We must apply same approach to eradicate polio, malaria and cholera”, the Unionist said.

As the country celebrates the feat, Aremu cautioned of any form of complacency by both the government and the citizenry, tasking relevant government agencies to remain on duty to guard against any new infection in Nigeria.

This, he said would be sustained, if government will strengthen the public healthcare system, motivate health workers and continue compulsory screening on the nation’s boarders, airports, seaports and ensure the use of hand sanitizers at all times.

The NLC Vice President further noted that Nigeria’s victory cannot be sustained if the Ebola disease continues to ravage other West African countries like Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

He therefore urged the Nigerian government to give necessary support to the neighbouring West African countries being ravaged by the Ebola disease.

Nigeria Adopts Double-Barreled Approach To Further Contain Ebola- Prof Chukwu

Onyebuchi Chukwu on EbolaNigeria’s former Minister of Health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu on Tuesday said the Federal Government has chosen a double barrel approach to continue the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease despite the declaration by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that Nigeria is Ebola free.

He noted that the government is also not relenting in finding a cure to the virus as the “Treatment Group for the Ebola Virus Disease have been working and collecting various claims from Nigerians, scientists and other alike and are trying to verify them.

“They have selected a number of claims that they think are worth researching into and they are beginning to develop the protocol for research”, he said.

He said Nigeria has joined the rest of the world under the auspices of the World Health Organisation to make its contribution to the fight against the disease on the global stage.

“So it is a double barrel approach; we are trying to do things within the country and we are also trying to collaborate with the international community because that is the only way to go.

“There must be a vaccine if the world is ever to hope that it can be able to combat it any moment and lay it to rest”, insisting that “if we cant get a vaccine, then we should have a specific drug developed that can be effective against the virus”.

He also reiterated the call by the Federal Government on Nigerians not to rest their oars in maintaining preventive measures against the contained Ebola Virus Disease.

“The battle is won but the war is not yet won and we must even now be on alert” he said, adding that “it is great to succeed but it is more difficult to stay on top of that success”.

He urged Nigerians to remain vigilant and urged them to continue to do “all the things we thought you; all the things we agreed we must do- enhanced personal hygiene, enhanced sanitation, alertness at ports of entry, seaports, land crosses, airports- and when people are sick endeavour to go to a proper hospital”, he said, adding that “we must continue to do all this”.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had on Monday declared Nigeria free of the deadly Ebola Virus. Nigeria did not recorded a new case of Ebola for 42 days or two incubation period of 21 days.

WHO representative, Rui Gama Vaz, who said it was a “spectacular success story”, added that “Nigeria is now free of Ebola.

“This is a spectacular success story. It shows that Ebola can be contained but we must be clear that we have only won a battle, the war will only end when West Africa is also declared free of Ebola”, he said.

The disease gained entry into the country in July when Liberian, Patrick Sawyer, came in on a diplomatic assignment.

The diplomat had fallen ill and was admitted at the First Consultants Hospital, Obalende, in Lagos.

Ebola Toll Passes 2,800 But “Contained” In Senegal, Nigeria – WHO

EbolaAn outbreak of Ebola in West Africa has been largely contained in Senegal and Nigeria, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday, but the disease is still spreading elsewhere and has now killed over 2,811 people in the region.

Senegal and Nigeria, the most recent of five nations to record cases of Ebola, implemented strict measures to isolate the ill and track down further possible cases – steps that Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have failed to impose, allowing the disease to take hold in cities and rural communities.

Sierra Leone said it had registered 130 new cases of Ebola during a three-day national lockdown that ended late on Sunday, the most radical move yet to try to contain a disease that has killed around half of those it infects and is crippling some of the weakest countries in West Africa.

The current outbreak was first identified in the forests of southeastern Guinea in March and then spread into neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone, where it overwhelmed weak national health systems.

In Nigeria, 20 cases were recorded and eight people died. There have been no deaths from one confirmed case in Senegal.

“On the whole, the outbreaks in Senegal and Nigeria are pretty much contained,” a WHO statement said.

However, the U.N. agency said that the world’s worst outbreak of the virus remains a “public health emergency of international concern”, which will guarantee it the body’s priority attention.

The international response has failed to match the spread of a disease that has exposed the fragility of the state in Guinea and threatened to undo progress made in rebuilding Liberia and Sierra Leone after their wars of the 1990s.

Donors have since pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and the U.S. Government is scrambling 3,000 soldiers to the region to build an extra 17 treatment centres and train thousands of local medics.

The Pentagon said about 60 U.S. military personnel had arrived in the region so far and another 30-40 are scheduled to arrive in the next few days.

The U.S. plan has been welcomed but aid workers say other rich nations should follow Washington’s lead with cash, supplies and personnel. The WHO has said the world must act quickly to keep the number of cases in the tens of thousands.

The European Union has pledged 140 million euros ($180 million) to fight the virus and Italy’s health minister, Beatrice Lorenzin, said European countries are assessing their resources to plan a coordinated response.

“Only four or five countries in Europe are equipped. We will work together to coordinate the aid effort,” she said, as EU health ministers met in Milan on Monday.


Ebola has prompted a range of policy measures from African governments, including border closures and travel bans, though none as severe as Sierra Leone, where residents emerged on Monday from a 72-hour lockdown.

Authorities say they reached more than 80 percent of households targeted in their sensitization campaign.

“The outreach was just overwhelming,” head of the Ebola Emergency Operations Centre, Stephen Gaojia, said on Monday.

The country now needs to focus on treatment and case management and it urgently requires treatment centres in all its 14 districts as well as “foot soldiers” in clinics and hospitals, he said.

The government is still waiting for results from a further 39 suspected cases, Gaojia said. There were no new deaths in Guinea, four in Sierra Leone and 39 in Liberia, according to the latest figures from the WHO.

Authorities in Guinea said they have arrested 20 people as part of an investigation into the killing last week of nine members of a delegation attempting to educate people about Ebola in a remote part of the southeast of the country.

The killings underscored how much some rural populations in the affected countries mistrust authorities after years of instability and conflict.

A separate, unrelated, Ebola outbreak has killed 41 people in Democratic Republic of Congo, where there have been 68 cases, WHO said in a statement on the situation as of September 18.


Ebola Seriously Threatens Liberia’s National Existence – Minister

Ebola PatientLiberia’s national existence is “seriously threatened” by the deadly Ebola virus that is “spreading like wild fire and devouring everything in its path,” the country’s national defense minister told the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday.

Liberia is worst hit by West Africa’s Ebola epidemic and will likely see thousands of new cases in coming weeks, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday.

More than 1,000 people have already died in Liberia.

“Liberia is facing a serious threat to its national existence. The deadly Ebola virus has caused a disruption of the normal functioning of our State,” said Liberian Minister of National Defense, Brownie Samukai.

“It is now spreading like wild fire, devouring everything in its path. The already weak health infrastructure of the country has been overwhelmed,” he told the 15-member council, adding that the initial international response was “less than robust.”

U.N. special envoy to Liberia, Karin Landgren told the council that at least 160 Liberian health care workers had contracted the disease and half of them had died. She described the spread of Ebola as “merciless” and warned that the reported cases and deaths in Liberia “understate Ebola’s true toll.”

“The speed and scale of the loss of lives, and the economic, social, political and security reverberations of the crisis are affecting Liberia profoundly,” she said. “Liberians are facing their gravest threat since war.”

Two wars between 1989 and 2003 killed about 250,000 people and led to a complete collapse of Liberia. It was carved up by warlords who often used child soldiers and fought over control of diamond and timber concessions.

U.N. peacekeepers were deployed to Liberia in 2003 and some 6,000 troops and police are currently there. The mission’s mandate is due to be renewed by the Security Council this month and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has recommended a straightforward extension of three months, instead of one year, while the international community tackles Ebola.

The WHO said on Tuesday that it had recorded 4,293 cases in five West African countries as of Sept. 6. It said it still did not have new figures for Liberia. The outbreak began in Guinea and has spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal.

An Ebola outbreak said to be unrelated to the one in West Africa has been reported in Democratic Republic of Congo, where Ebola was first identified in 1976.

Ebola is a haemorrhagic fever spread through body fluids such as the blood, sweat or vomit of those who are infected with the disease. Health care workers are among the most vulnerable to the disease. Liberia’s Samukai said nine of Liberia’s 15 counties are affected.

“The pandemic has mushroomed into a health emergency exceeding the government’s response,” he said. “Liberia lacks the infrastructure, logistical capacity, professional expertise and financial resources to effectively address this disease.”

The worst epidemic since the disease was discovered has killed at least 2,296 people.

“It is imperative that we as an international community get serious about addressing the public health, humanitarian and security effects of this outbreak,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said after the briefing.

“I don’t think anybody can say right now that the international response to the Ebola outbreak is sufficient,” said Power, who is president of the council for September. “Every organisation and every single member state in the international community needs to be looking at how we up our game.”

Ban said he plans to hold a meeting on the international response to the Ebola crisis on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly later this month.

FG Clears First Consultants To Re-Open

Empty hospital.......no doctors
Empty hospital…….no doctors

The Federal Government has issued a Certification of Decontamination to First Consultants Medical Centre, the hospital in Lagos which treated Nigeria’s Ebola index case, Patrick Sawyer. They have also been given the permission to re-open for business.

In two letters from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, both parties notified First Consultants that it had been cleared to reopen for business, having undergone three rounds of state-certified decontamination processes.

The Lagos State Government also commiserated with the hospital over the loss of its medical personnel, “who died in the line of duty” and expressed its appreciation for the altruistic role it played in containing and managing the Ebola virus, “thus preventing an epidemic.

“The Ministry is in receipt of a letter dated August 29, 2014, from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Ebola Emergency Centre, Lagos, informing that your facility has had three rounds of state-certified decontamination process.

“The Ministry acknowledges the role your facility played in alerting the State Government of the index case of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and appreciates your altruistic gestures in containing and managing this dealy virus, thus preventing an epidemic.

“We also commiserate with you on your members of staff who died in the line of duty.

“First Consultants has now been cleared to reopen for business. We hope that with this reopening, your facility will continue to maintain its high quality of standards”, the statement said

First Consultants was shut down and quarantined by the Federal Government on July 26 in line with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) protocol on the virus, following the death of Sawyer at the hospital on July 25.

The hospital lost a number of its health care workers to the Ebola outbreak, including its Senior Consultant Physician and Endocrinologist, Dr. A. S. Adadevoh.