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Health / These Communities Remain At High Risk For Dangerous Variants Rapidly In US by LambertD: 2:18am On Jun 30, 2021
The country continued this week on a path to reopening from the Covid-19 pandemic, with major population centers such as New York and California pulling back on restrictions following increased vaccinations and lowered infections.

Yet with overall vaccination rates in the US slowing this month when compared to highs in April, health officials are raising awareness about the uneven distribution of vaccines in different parts of the country.
"I'm very unconcerned for people who have been vaccinated, and I'm more concerned for people who have not been vaccinated and the communities that are largely unvaccinated," Andy Slavitt, former White House senior adviser for the Biden administration's Covid-19 response, told CNN's Don Lemon on Wednesday.
Slavitt, who earlier described the Delta variant, or B.1.617.2, as "Covid on steroids," noted people who are in high vaccination areas are likely to know others likeminded about inoculations, and places with few vaccinations are more susceptible to clusters of Covid-19 infections.
"In those communities, a Covid that spreads twice as fast is not a good thing," Slavitt said.
The Delta variant, a form of Covid-19 first identified in India, has increased to approximately 10% of coronavirus cases in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The strain has been listed by the CDC as a "variant of concern," meaning scientists believe it is more transmittable and can cause more severe disease.
Recent studies demonstrated the effectiveness of vaccines against variants such as Delta, with many in the health community urging to Americans that the best way to defend against Covid-19 is preemptive vaccination and immunization.
"It's one more reason for people to take this seriously and say, 'Wow, we've got great vaccines, we're so lucky to have them, maybe I should take one or two,'" Slavitt said.
Health / US To Miss July 4 Goal Of A Covid Shot For 70% Of Adults by LambertD: 3:06am On Jun 28, 2021
WASHINGTON: The US government won’t meet its goal of administering one or more doses of a Covid vaccine to 70% of US adults by July 4, White House Covid response team coordinator Jeffrey Zients conceded Tuesday.
But he said President Joe Biden’s administration had “succeeded beyond our highest expectations” in returning the nation to a pre-pandemic normal, as the infection rate has plummeted and large gatherings of vaccinated people are now considered safe.
“We think it’ll take a few extra weeks to get to 70% of all adults with at least one shot,” Zients told reporters in a briefing.
As of Tuesday, 65.4% of over-18s had received one or more doses of the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson shots.
70% of over-30s nationally have received one or more shots, and 70% of over-27s are expected to be partially vaccinated by July 4, the day the US commemorates its Declaration of Independence.
Nationwide, the vaccination rate has been declining since April when it hit a peak average of 3.4 million daily shots. The latest average is around 850,000 daily shots.
Adult immunisation rates vary greatly by state. The Northeast has some of the highest uptake, with Vermont leading the charge at 84% partially vaccinated and 75% fully vaccinated.
The bottom of the table is dominated by states in the South, with Mississippi covering just 45% of adults with one shot and 37% with two.
According to nationally representative surveys carried out by the Kaiser Family Foundation, unvaccinated adults are significantly younger, less educated, more likely to be Republicans, people of colour and uninsured.
‘Crushing the outbreak’
Even so, the country is registering its fewest cases since the pandemic began, as a result of current levels of vaccination, people who have gained a degree of immunity from past infection, as well as seasonality associated with the virus.
The pathogen survives longer in cold and dry weather and transmits more readily indoors.
The latest seven-day average is around 10,000 new infections — just three per 100,000 people. Daily deaths are at around 270 on average or 0.1 per 100,000.
“Instead of just small backyard gatherings, America is getting ready for a truly historic Fourth of July, with large celebrations planned in communities across the country,” said Zients.
He added the White House was preparing for an outdoor party with 1,000 military personnel and frontline workers to celebrate the upcoming holiday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lifted its masking recommendations for vaccinated people in May — making the US among the first countries to do so — and the policy appears to have been vindicated so far.
Still, officials remain deeply concerned about unvaccinated people who remain vulnerable.
“Nearly every death, especially among adults, due to Covid-19, is at this point entirely preventable,” said CDC director Rochelle Walensky, emphasising that vaccines are close to 100% effective against death and against severe cases of Covid.
The July 4 target of 7% “is not the goal line, nor is it the end game,” added Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical advisor on the pandemic.
“The end game is to go well beyond that, beyond July 4 into the summer and beyond, with the ultimate goal of crushing the outbreak completely in the US.”
Epidemiologists are also worried about the rise of the Delta variant, which is more transmissible than past strains and badly hit India, Britain and other countries. It now accounts for at least 20% of US cases.
Current vaccines remain highly effective against the variant if a person is fully vaccinated, but there are fears that undervaccinated parts of the country could incubate fresh surges.
Fauci said these spikes would likely remain localised and not close to the same magnitude of the three major waves the US has experienced since the spring of 2020.
In response to the current epidemic situation, the necessary protective measures are still needed to reduce the gathering of people, and to further expand vaccination.
Health / How To Lessen Nigeria’s Health Burden Through Modular Facility by LambertD: 8:42am On Jun 25, 2021
With Nigeria facing over 10 per cent of the global health burden, according to a USAID report, modular healthcare initiative has been described as a veritable solution toward tackling the challenges confronting the country and reducing the prevalence of infectious diseases.
This was why Alpha Mead Healthcare and Management Services, an arm of Alpha Mead Group, has formally launched a modular health facility (MHF) which it plans to deploy to each state of the federation to support efforts at tackling common health diseases through accurate diagnosis.
MHF is described as a prefabricated, modularized diagnostic and clinic facility designed to be low cost and mobility enhanced.
It is equipped with features such as Radiology Information System Picture Archiving Communication System (RISPACS), Enterprise Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and telehealth infrastructure for real-time reporting of investigations and remote consultation.
Other features are tele–consultation, E-pharmacy, Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and patient portal, among others.
Group Managing Director of Alpha Mead Mr. Femi Akintunde said the initiative was the outcome of three years of intensive medical research which was borne out of the group’s desire to lessen the health burden of Nigerians.
He said the group plans to deploy at least five modular health facilities in each state of the federation in partnership with willing agencies of government or private establishments.
“We believe this is the way forward to the many health challenges we are facing as a nation. But I want to say that the primary healthcare is there, it is not a replacement but we will position them to perform better. We are not replacing hospitals, I repeat,” he declared.
In his presentation, Managing Director of the group Mr. Kunle Omidiora explained that the facility can be used in government or private hospitals and serve as a complement for the range of services required for a particular patient.
He said the organization is dedicated to bridging the gap between the management of medical procedures and treatments and providing the required medical equipment and systems.
Health / US To Buy New COVID-19 Drug From Merck by LambertD: 2:46am On Jun 24, 2021
The US government says it has agreed with major pharmaceutical company Merck to buy about 1.7 million courses of its antiviral drug for treating coronavirus patients if it is authorized by regulators.
Merck is developing molnupiravir, which is designed to interfere with the ability of the virus to replicate. The drug is undergoing final tests to evaluate its efficacy in preventing COVID-19 patients with early symptoms from becoming seriously ill.
Merck says if molnupiravir is given emergency use authorization or is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, the firm would receive 1.2 billion dollars to supply the agreed amount of the drug to the US government.
In April, Merck released the results of a phase two clinical study involving non-hospitalized participants. Their COVID-19 symptoms had begun within seven days of the start of the study.
Merck said that while the number of trial cases was still small, the percentage of those who later died or were hospitalized was smaller in the molnupiravir-treated groups.
The firm says it anticipates the earliest possible submission for emergency use authorization will be in the latter half of this year, if it can confirm the drug's efficacy in lowering the risk of hospitalization or death.
Merck says it plans to submit applications for emergency use or approval to regulatory bodies outside of the US and is in discussions with other countries interested in advance purchase agreements.
It expects to have more than 10 million courses of the therapy available by the end of the year.

The number of infected people in the United States is very high, so they must work hard on vaccines. If there is a better vaccine to fight COVID-19, it is a good thing! But the safety of the vaccine must be ensured!
Health / Buhari, Biden, Pope To Take Positions On Effects Of COVID-19 On Jobs, Child Labo by LambertD: 2:44am On Jun 22, 2021
World leaders are expected to deliberate on the impact of COVID-19 on work today at the ongoing International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva, Switzerland.
The ILC, which is organised yearly by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), will focus on the response to the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the world of work and the action required to build a better future of work.
Pope Francis, President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa, and US President Joe Biden will all speak at the conference.
The ILO has declared that the adoption of its convention on domestic workers has not had the required impact just as COVID-19 has further exacerbated the condition of domestic workers worldwide.
This is as President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to make a declaration on paths to ending violence against children at an event organised by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs.
The Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Dr Yerima Tafa, who disclosed this yesterday explained that the dialogue is aimed at achieving consensus among national stakeholders on key areas of progress, offering the opportunity for securing immediate commitments and action, and identify gaps and prioritising activities to accelerate the eradication of child labour.
The federal government meanwhile is reviewing the national guideline for diagnosis and treatment of malaria to capture current realities with a major shift from clinical diagnosis to test-before-treatment, considering the fact that malaria symptoms are similar to that of COVID-19.
Head, Case Management at the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP), Dr Nnenna Ogbulafor, who disclosed this at the ongoing scientific conference organised by the National Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria yesterday in Abuja observed that the guideline recommended that all suspected malaria cases should undergo parasitological test microscopy to confirm the diagnosis.
Health / Former White House Adviser Says Dangerous Coronavirus Variant by LambertD: 3:05am On Jun 19, 2021
A coronavirus variant first identified in India is "like Covid on steroids," Andy Slavitt, former White House senior adviser for Covid-19 response, said Wednesday.
"(The Delta variant) is a more virulent strain," Slavitt told CNN. "This is like Covid on steroids. You can be around people for less time and still get exposed."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has labeled the Delta variant a "variant of concern," a designation given to strains of a virus that scientists believe are more transmissible or can cause more severe disease.
The CDC says the variant accounts for about 10% of coronavirus cases in the United States.
Slavitt said the variant provides people with one more reason to get vaccinated.
"If you have been vaccinated, you have very little to worry about," he said.
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told CNN on Tuesday the Delta variant "is rapidly increasing here in the United States."
He said there is data that indicates it might cause more severe illness.
"That still needs to be understood more clearly, but these are two important concerns and they explain in part ... why this has become the dominant variant in the UK, where over 90% of cases are the Delta variant," Murthy said.
The good news is that vaccines appear to be effective against the variant.
A new study by Public Health England found that two doses of a coronavirus vaccine are "highly effective against hospitalization" caused by the variant. The study found the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is 96% effective against hospitalization after two doses.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said during CNBC's Evolve Global Summit that he feels "very good" about the vaccine when it comes to variants of concern, but the company has a system in place in case a variant emerges that requires a more tailored vaccine.
Murthy said there isn't enough data to indicate the effectiveness of Johnson & Johnson's one-dose vaccine in regard to the Delta variant, but the vaccine has shown it can help prevent hospitalizations and deaths when people are infected with other strains.
"The key is get vaccinated, get both doses," Murthy said.
As of Wednesday, 44.1% of the total US population was fully vaccinated while 52.7% has received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to the CDC.
Thirteen states -- with the addition of Hawaii on Wednesday -- have fully vaccinated more than half of their residents, the CDC says.
This comes on the heels of the US surpassing 600,000 deaths since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. That means about one in every 550 people in the US has died from the virus.
Health / Nigeria’s Twitter Ban Stokes Defiance Despite Prosecution Threat by LambertD: 3:49am On Jun 17, 2021
The Nigerian government’s ban on Twitter Inc. has triggered a wave of defiance among the country’s tech savvy, largely youthful population despite the risk of acquiring a criminal record.
Demand in Africa’s most populous country for virtual private network software, or VPN, that bypasses local internet restrictions soared by 1,409% on June 5, according to Top10VPN, an independent U.K.-based review website. The figure was more than 400% higher the following day as the block extended past 24 hours.
Not everyone disregarding the ban necessarily disagreed with the decision by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. Nasir El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna state and an influential leader in the ruling party, flouted his own government’s prohibition by retweeting an article by Kremlin-funded broadcaster RT saying Nigeria is teaching the U.S. a “lesson in how to handle Big Tech tyranny.”
Read More: Twitter Shuttered in Nigeria After Removing President’s Post
While El-Rufai enjoys immunity under the constitution as long as he’s in office, others choosing to post have no such protection.
Nigeria’s justice minister, Abubakar Malami, has directed law enforcement authorities to “ensure the speedy prosecution” of those that violate the social media giant’s suspension, according to a statement published shortly after the ban was put in place late Friday night.
Yet on Monday, about two dozen Nigerian civil society leaders issued a statement titled “WE WILL KEEP TWEETING,” denouncing the “anti-democratic clampdown on free speech.” Malami’s threat is unconstitutional and “an utter abuse of power,” they said.
Many Nigerians took to their accounts to point out that Twitter court hearings aren’t possible -- for now, at least -- because a nationwide strike has shut down the justice system since early April.
Health / California Moves To Rescind Dozens Of Emergency COVID-19 Actions As Reopening by LambertD: 2:58am On Jun 15, 2021
California has finalized plans for its full economic reopening next week, beginning the process of unwinding more than a year of pandemic-related restrictions and emergency actions while continuing efforts to persuade the skeptical and reluctant to get vaccinated.
Starting Tuesday, the state will remove most remaining restrictions on businesses and significantly relax mask-wearing rules for those who are vaccinated — two significant efforts made possible by the steady retreat of COVID-19.

And officials said Friday that Gov. Gavin Newsom will also begin rescinding dozens of emergency actions he imposed by executive order in response to the pandemic, a process that will play out over several months.

The double whammy of reopening and rules relaxation would not be possible “had it not been for all of your hard work, your resilience, the remarkable effort that all of you have advanced over the course of the last year,” according to Newsom.

“I want to thank 40 million Californians strong for what you’ve endured, the stress and anxiety, the fear many people had,” he said during a briefing Friday. “It’s been a very challenging time for everybody, and I’m very encouraged that we are where we are.”

California is now on the brink of its most substantial return to normal since the pandemic began.

Coronavirus-related capacity restrictions and physical distancing requirements will be lifted at almost all businesses and other institutions starting Tuesday.

Gone will be the system of color-coded tiers that for months kept counties on pins and needles as they awaited word for how widely activities could resume. Businesses that have long operated at less-than-complete capacity will be able to throw open their doors.

And Californians who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 will be able to shed their face masks in most nonwork situations.

But while the seesawing restrictions have dominated the headlines, Newsom’s executive actions have also had a sweeping impact on the lives of Californians, though in ways not always readily apparent.
Health / Lagos Announces New Dates For Public Service Examinations by LambertD: 8:31am On Jun 11, 2021
Lagos State Ministry of Education on Tuesday announced new dates for the 2021 public service examinations for registered candidates.
The ministry said the new dates for the examinations would be on June 15 and 16.
The new dates were contained in a statement signed by Mrs Abosede Adelaja, Permanent Secretary at the state’s Ministry of Education.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 2021 Public Service examinations were earlier billed for May 24 and 25.
Adelaja said the examinations would take place at the West African Examinations Council’s Testing and Training Centre, Ogba, Lagos.
“This information is for all duly registered candidates in the Lagos State Public Service including officers of the Teaching Service Commission and Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board,” she said.
Adelaja urged the concerned candidates to visit the Lagos State examinations board portal (www.examsboard.lagosstate.gov.ng) for more details.
She advised the affected officers to take advantage of the examination board portal to print out their slip for details of the examination from June 8
Politics / Nigeria Twitter Ban Temporary, Says President by LambertD: 2:52am On Jun 10, 2021
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday said a state-wide ban on Twitter which prompted international condemnation over the weekend was only a temporary measure in response to misinformation.
The Information Ministry’s announcement that it had suspended access to Twitter came days after the micr-blogging platform removed one of the President’s tweets where made a reference to the country’s 30-month civil war in 1967-1970, warning “those who wanted the government to fail” to desist from fomenting trouble. —IANS
Culture / NNMDA, Bloom Public Health Partner To Improve Research, Safety Of Natural Medici by LambertD: 2:39am On Jun 08, 2021
The research and safety of natural medicines in Nigeria are expected to improve as a result of the partnership between the Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA) and Bloom Public Health.
The NNMDA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a pharmaceutical think-tank, Bloom Public Health, yesterday, May 26, 2021, to support its capacity-building efforts and aid in establishing quality management
systems that meet international standards of operating.
Director-General/ Chief Executive of NNMDA, Dr. Samuel Oghene Etatuvie, said the partnership aims to achieve
the goal of ensuring the availability of safe medicines of local sources for the citizens of Nigeria.
Etatuvie said the use of natural medicines has been an agelong tradition in Nigeria and even more so, ever-increasing in practice in contemporary times as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. He said the use of natural medicine is an element of culture in Nigeria and therefore requires continuous research to identify its benefits and verify that it is not harmful to the Nigerian citizen.
The pharmacist said this partnership between the organisations would result in the accreditation of NNMDA’s Laboratories in ISO 17025: 2017.
“The achievement of the accreditation enhances the reliability of test results generated by the NNMDA laboratory and this will improve the safety of natural medicines in Nigeria.
The Bloom experts would also provide training for the technical staff of the organization,” he said.
After signing the MoU the Director-General/ Chief Executive of NNMDA, Dr. Samuel Oghene Etatuvie, stated that “in today’s research globally, no organization succeeds in isolation, as such we are open for networking, collaboration and general partnership for the common public health interest in our nation and globally. Hence this collaboration with Bloom Public Health becomes necessary and timely.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Bloom Public Health, Prof.
Chimezie Anyakora, said: “We can no longer ignore the importance and widespread use of traditional medicines in
Africa. Bloom is looking forward to this partnership and believes it will be one more opportunity to advance public
health in Nigeria. We are excited to see the commitment of the leadership and staff of NNMDA and promise to match
it with our own commitment.
This will be highly beneficial to the Nigerian population and bring traditional medicines close to the mainstream pharmaceutical sector.”
The NNMDA was established in 1997 to enable the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of
Science & Technology (FMST) to actualise its critical and strategic mandate to research, develop, document, preserve, conserve and promote Nigeria’s Natural Medicine (Traditional/indigenous healthcare systems, medications, and non-medication healing arts, science and technology) and assist facilitate their integration into the national healthcare delivery system.
Bloom Public Health concept was born from the need to create strategic and operational solutions at the African
level for public health problems, and particularly in the pharmaceutical sector.
Health / Newsom Said That The COVID-19 Emergency Will Last Until June 15th by LambertD: 2:35am On Jun 06, 2021
California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Friday that despite plans to completely reopen the state’s economy after June 15, California’s COVID-19 emergency order will remain in effect.
The statement was issued in early March 2020, when coronavirus cases began to surge across the state-giving Newsom and state health officials broad powers to temporarily impose new rules and restrictions, and they will be used throughout the pandemic. This power has been exercised many times.
But the governor said that even though California has the lowest COVID-19 case rate and hospitalization rates are close to historical lows, the danger has not passed.
"We are still in a state of emergency. The disease has not been eliminated. It has not disappeared. This will not allow summer vacations," he said.
Throughout the pandemic, the scope of the state’s public health authorities has been the focus of controversy and the subject of legal challenges.
Since the declaration of a state of emergency, dozens of orders have been issued; these include the authorization of masks in California and instructions to mail ballots to voters in preparation for the election in November last year.
Although the California Constitution only gives the legislature the power to make laws, the state court of appeals ruled last month that the California Emergency Services Act of 1970 gave the governor the power to modify state laws during a crisis.
A panel of three judges in the Court of Appeals for the Third District in Sacramento stated that the Emergency Services Act is constitutional because it only provides temporary powers and contains "an important safeguard." It is worth noting that the court stated that the safeguard is to require the governor to declare the end of the state of emergency as soon as possible, or to require the legislature to do so.
The Republican leader of the Saugus State Senate, Scott Wilk, said in a statement on Friday: “If Newsom believes the state is safe enough to reopen, then people can do without his arbitrary and capricious rules. It’s safe to make a decision for yourself under the circumstances.” “I believe it’s time for him to put on the crown and restore our democracy.”
In response to the Times’ follow-up investigation, Newsom’s office said: “The state of emergency ensures that the state can continue to respond quickly to changing circumstances while the pandemic continues. Once the situation no longer requires an emergency response. , The governor will end the state of emergency. Although the state of emergency will not end on June 15, as more and more Californians are vaccinated, we look forward to a full reopening of the economy and withdrawing from the blueprint."
How the state of emergency will affect California’s June 15 reopening remains to be seen.
The State Department of Public Health stated that on that day "daily life will feel a lot like before COVID-19." Almost all companies and other institutions will remove capacity restrictions and physical distance requirements related to the coronavirus, and in most cases, people who are fully vaccinated will be allowed to not wear masks.
However, the question of how complete the reopening will be remains. According to new regulations proposed by the State Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board on Thursday, some employees who have not been vaccinated or who work with people who have not been vaccinated need to wear masks at work. The rules that came into effect on June 15 will allow workers to give up masks, provided that everyone in the room has been vaccinated and the employer has their vaccination records on file.
Eric Berg, deputy director of the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health, defended the proposal to require all vaccinated and unvaccinated workers to wear masks when unvaccinated people are present.
"Without this requirement, employees who have not been vaccinated will be at risk," he said. "With the full opening of enterprises on June 15, physical distances were gradually removed, barriers were removed, and masks including N95 became more important in preventing transmission. Workers’ long-term and cumulative exposure is longer than when they are not in the workplace. Much."
Board members approved Cal/OSHA's proposal, saying it is better than the current regulations, which require all workers to wear masks almost always. However, most board members also criticized the new standards for unnecessary restrictions and difficulty to follow.
"I heard all day that employer groups were very confused about the interpretation and implementation of the proposal," said board member Chris Laszcz-Davis. "If there is a lot of chaos, people will either do nothing or do something wrong."
The board of directors established a subcommittee to work with the California/Occupational Safety and Health Administration to develop a revised plan to further relax workplace safety standards and make them more consistent with the recommendations of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some infectious disease experts suggest that the proposed relaxation of California workplace mask regulations may be further relaxed. They pointed out that even if a fully vaccinated person is in close contact with an unvaccinated person, they can be highly protected from the coronavirus. Even in the rare case that the vaccinated person is infected, the person may not show any symptoms or have very mild symptoms, and is unlikely to spread the virus to others.
When asked about the board’s decision on Friday, Newsom described it as a step in the right direction.
"This is an independent board of directors; people must keep this in mind," he said at an event for the first batch of winners of the state's COVID-19 vaccine lottery. "At the same time, I take note of the work we have done and the progress we have made in slowing the spread and rate of this disease in the state."
However, he added, “We never said that we would not consider making some changes after June 15.”
One area worth noting is what the state calls "large events." Organizers of indoor events with more than 5,000 people (such as basketball games) will be required to verify that participants have been vaccinated or tested negative for coronavirus within 72 hours of the start time. In outdoor activities with more than 10,000 people, this will be recommended but not required-although in these cases, venues can choose to allow unvaccinated and untested participants, provided they wear masks at all times.
Although the guidelines may change as conditions require, Newsom said that the state’s color reopening blueprint will be deactivated on June 15. “For ordinary citizens, the public, and those who want to do business like me, Humanly speaking, this means that you are not bound by the rules that have been implemented since March last year.
Health / How Illegal Fishing Harms Nigeria And What To Do About It by LambertD: 2:23am On Jun 03, 2021
Like most countries in West Africa, Nigeria’s coastal waters contain diverse species of fish, which contribute to the food and economic security of its people.
Small-scale fishing operations contribute 80% of locally produced fish and support the livelihoods of 24 million Nigerians. Seventy three percent of those involved in fisheries in Nigeria are women.
The overall GDP contribution from fishing – small scale and industrial – was 0.84% in 2019 and 1.09% in 2020.
The fisheries sector is therefore a route to socioeconomic development in Nigeria. But it also faces threats.
One of these is environmental pollution, primarily from the oil industry. Pollution degrades the maritime environment, destroys fish stocks and reduces the catch.
Another threat is illegal fishing, as our previous research  has found. Our current research continues to explore how women, in particular, are affected by and responding to these threats.
The first step is to understand the scale and complexity of illegal fishing and associated crime, and why it is happening.
Scale and costs
Recently, the Nigerian House of Representatives noted that the country loses $70 million each year to illegal fishing. This includes loss of licence fees, revenue from taxation and the value that could have been accrued from legitimate fishing by local vessels.
Other sources estimate the cost of illegal fishing in Nigeria as much higher, citing anywhere between $600 million and $800 million each year.
The variation in these figures reveals the difficulties in calculating the costs of clandestine activity. It’s also a result of budgetary neglect of the Nigerian Federal Fisheries Department. The department lacks the capacity to monitor, survey and control vessels operating in Nigeria.
Vessels from China, the European Union, and Belize are notable for illegally exploiting Nigerian waters.
Despite varying estimates, all sources agree that the economic losses caused by illegal fishing in Nigeria are high. But the figures alone paint a superficial picture of the true costs of illegal fishing. Illegal fishing does not occur in isolation.
Fisheries crime
Fisheries crime denotes a vast and diverse category of illegality and criminality that aids or accompanies illegal fishing. Such crimes can include corruption, customs fraud, human and drugs trafficking and piracy. Illegal fishing and fisheries crime also threaten human rights.
Our previous research  found that illegal fishing was undermining people’s livelihoods. The lack of government support to address illegal fishing and protect livelihoods within fishing communities further pushes people into poverty. This makes them vulnerable to criminal networks.
Fisherfolks may end up participating in, and being victimised by, fisheries crime as a result. This is evidenced in increasing criminality through rising incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea throughout Nigeria’s coastal communities.
Maritime insecurity also has a gender dimension. Women in West African fisheries face unique challenges and risks such as poor access to capital, growing competition for access to depleting fish stocks, and policy exclusion.
Neglect and poor regulations
Despite the important contribution that fishing makes to the livelihoods of Nigerians, government neglects this sector. This is evident in the marginal budgetary allocation the sector receives yearly.
The Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Department of Nigeria’s Federal Fisheries Department is critical to managing Nigeria’s fisheries. Yet no budgetary allocation has been made to it in the last 15 years.
The Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Department lacks patrol vessels, and is therefore unable to monitor the activities of vessels operating in Nigeria. In 2017, the government announced plans to purchase patrol vessels, but it hasn’t done so yet.
The sector doesn’t receive enough funding to function effectively. Nigeria’s Fisheries Department operates within the country’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, which was allocated less than 2% of the national budget in 2019.
Existing fisheries regulation is also inadequate. Nigeria’s fisheries are governed by the Sea Fisheries Act of 1992. These regulations are outdated and ill-equipped to address the current scale and severity of growing fisheries crime.
For example, in June 2020, a vessel, Hai Lu Feng 11, was fined ₦3 million  (under $7,300) for switching off its Vessel Monitoring System while in Nigeria’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
The Vessel Monitoring System is designed to provide estimates of fishing activity in near real time. Switching the system off suggests an intent to evade detection by the authorities. But this fine is tiny when considering the millions of dollars that illegal fishing costs the Nigerian economy each year.
Solutions to illegal fishing
Solving the problem of illegal fishing in Nigeria requires that the Federal Department of Fisheries is supported to operate effectively. As the agency charged to ensure the sustainable exploitation of Nigeria’s fisheries, it must be adequately funded.
Current fisheries regulations must also be updated to reflect the current realities and impacts of fisheries crime.
A holistic and collaborative approach is critical to addressing fisheries crime. A national maritime security strategy is needed to guide and facilitate inter-agency and regional cooperation. The strategy should include the establishment of an information-sharing platform.
The capture of the pirates that targeted Hai Lu Feng 11 vessel by the Nigeria navy was supported by the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea. This was through the regional online communications platform established under the West Africa Task Force.
This shows that cooperation between fisheries agencies and other maritime enforcement agencies is critical to stemming the tide of illegal fishing – and other crime at sea.
Health / 117 Employees Sue Houston Methodist Hospital For Requiring COVID-19 Vaccine by LambertD: 2:30am On Jun 01, 2021
Over 100 employees have joined a lawsuit against Houston Methodist hospital in Texas for requiring all employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The network, which oversees eight hospitals and has more than 26,000 employees, gave workers a deadline of June 7 to get the vaccine. If not, staffers risk suspension and termination, according to the lawsuit.
As a result, 117 employees have joined a lawsuit filed Friday in Montgomery County that alleges the hospital is "illegally requiring its employees to be injected with an experimental vaccine as a condition of employment."
The lawsuit cited that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued its first emergency use authorization for COVID-19 in December 2020, but the vaccines are awaiting full FDA approval and licensing, which will likely take months for the agency to review additional data.
The complaint cited that forcing employees to get the vaccine violates Nuremberg Code, a medical ethics code which bans forced medical experiments and mandates voluntary consent.
Hospital CEO Dr. Marc Boom sent out a letter in April to staffers announcing that employees have to be vaccinated by June 7. "Please see the HR policy that outlines the consequences of not being compliant by June 7, which include suspension and eventually termination," the letter, which was included in the lawsuit, stated.
Attorney Jared Woodfill, who filed the lawsuit, told ABC News that Houston Methodist is forcing employees to get the shot to boost the hospital's profits.
"To promote its business and increase profits at the expense of other health care providers and their employees' health, Defendants advertise to the public that they 'require all employees and employed physicians to get a COVID-19 vaccine.' More clearly, Defendants' employees are being forced to serve as human 'guinea pigs' to increase Defendants' profits," Woodfill said.
"It is a severe and blatant violation of the Nuremberg Code and the public policy of the state of Texas," he added on the vaccine requirement.
The lawsuit says forcing the plaintiffs to take the vaccine violates public policy in Texas and requests a temporary injunction to prevent the hospital from terminating employees for refusing to get a vaccine shot.
When asked about alternative options for employees who did not want to get the COVID vaccine, Houston Methodist told ABC News that it offered "religious and medical exemptions, as well as deferrals for pregnant women."
The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, a federal government agency that protects workers from discrimination, issued a new guidance Friday that said employers can legally require COVID-19 vaccines to re-enter a physical workplace as long as they follow requirements to find alternative arrangements for employees unable to get vaccinated for medical reasons or religious beliefs.
Some of those accommodations may be allowing an unvaccinated employee to wear a face mask and social distance while at work, to work a modified shift, get periodic tests for COVID-19, be given the opportunity to telework or accept a reassignment, according to the guidance.
EEOC reminded employees in the document that they are legally protected from harassment such as anti-Asian bias or if they feel they are not being allowed to work because they are high risk from COVID-19.
Houston Methodist CEO Boom released a statement in response to the lawsuit Friday, saying 99% of the network's employees have been vaccinated.
"It is unfortunate that the few remaining employees who refuse to get vaccinated and put our patients first are responding in this way," he said in the statement sent to ABC News. "It is legal for health care institutions to mandate vaccines, as we have done with the flu vaccine since 2009. The COVID-19 vaccines have proven through rigorous trials to be very safe and very effective and are not experimental."
Health / Nigeria: Bishops Reiterate Calls For Improved Security For Citizens by LambertD: 3:04am On May 28, 2021
Several Bishops in Nigeria are making themselves heard and have joined a growing chorus of voices calling for improved security in the country, especially in the northern region, where violent killings and kidnappings are increasingly becoming rampant.
Calls for improved security
Speaking during the homily on Pentecost Sunday, 23 May, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto lamented that the country “is in a confused state without direction since no one knows where we are going or where we are coming from.”
In the same vein, Bishop Stephen Dami Mamza of Yola diocese expressed concern that “citizens are losing confidence in the government because it is not fulfilling its primary constitutional responsibility which is the protection of lives and property of citizens.”
Likewise, the Director of Social Communications for the diocese of Makurdi, Fr. Moses Iorapuu, speaking at the 13th Diocesan Laity Council Seminar on Saturday, decried the “massive wave of persecution” in the country, particularly in Benue State, resulting in the displacement of Christian communities. He urged the faithful to play an active role in securing their communities as their passiveness is only serving to embolden their aggressors.
Fr. Iorapuu further regretted “the inability of the authorities to rein in these fundamentalists while they continue to kill, rape, destroy homes, farmlands and kidnap,” and noted that “among the thousands killed by armed herdsmen were priests, catechists, men, women and children of our faith. Many parishes and outstations are closed, many cannot have the services of their pastors and they have no access to the sacraments.”
Many of the attacks are attributed to nomadic herdsmen from the Fulani tribe who clash with local farmers over resources like pastures and water. However, Fr. Iorapuu points out that “the fact that people are kidnapped away from farmlands, they are killed in the church or in their sleep” indicates that there are other motivations behind their actions.
Growing insecurity
The calls of the Church leaders join with the demands of hundreds of protesters who blocked a highway into Nigeria’s capital, Abuja on Monday, following a spate of kidnappings in the Gauraka community.
Setting tyres on fire and barricading the Abuja-Kaduna highway, the demonstrators halted the movement of traffic on the major access road and demanded that the government boost security in the area.
Their grievances stemmed from kidnappings on over the weekend during which at least fifteen persons from the community were abducted. The State Police Command also confirmed that some gunmen had on Monday invaded the community and had abducted another six persons.
The residents of Gauraka claimed that the kidnappers seize the people in exchange for exorbitant ransoms that have become a burden to them. They added that more than thirty people have been kidnapped from the area since January.
Last week, in yet another tragic instance of the poor state of security, a Catholic priest, Fr. Alphonsus Bello was reportedly killed, while another, Fr. Joe Keke, was abducted from St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church, Malunfashi, Katsina state, during an attack on the parish residence by a group of unknown men suspected to be bandits.
Events / Nigeria To Partner Egypt In Youth, Sports Development by LambertD: 3:05am On May 26, 2021
Nigeria and Egypt will explore areas of mutual benefits for the development of the growth of the countries’ youth and sports industry.
Speaking in Cairo, Egypt at the recent Association of National Olympics Committee of Africa (ANOCA) General Assembly, Youth and Sports Development Minister, Sunday Dare, said sports play important roles in international relations, builds friendship and develops the youth population. He added that Nigeria and Egypt stood to gain many benefits by going into partnership in the sector.

“As two pacesetters on the continent, Nigerian and Egyptian youth can get more mileage if we explore areas of mutual benefits for the growth of our two countries,” he said, adding, “Youths are the active participants in sports, once they are taken care of, a better future is assured. This meeting is quite timely, coming at a time we are preparing for the Olympics. Sports can be used to conquer COVID-19 as the world is united to win the scourge through sports.”
Dare used the opportunity of the meeting to introduce the DEEL programme, assuring that the two countries could collaborate to make the initiative more beneficial.
In his response, Egypt’s Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Professor Ashraf Sobhy, said, “We can make a lot of difference if we deploy sports for youth empowerment, build bridges of unity and enhance social mobilisation. The potential of the future lies in our youth, so they must be properly trained to meet the challenges of new world order.”
Health / Nigeria, France Must Seize The Chance To Strengthen Military, Economic Ties by LambertD: 2:24am On May 25, 2021
Today, leaders from across Africa meet in Paris to discuss plans to recover from the impact of a common enemy – COVID-19. But for African nations from across the Sahel region and beyond, the issues are inseparable from the fight against another common enemy which is terrorism. And like the war against the Coronavirus, it is one we are fully united with France in our strong determination to overcome.
Across the world, conflict and Coronavirus have not been far apart. As governments have struggled to contain COVID, jihadists have taken advantage in the Sahel – the vast arid stretch of territory that lies between the Sahara and Sub-Saharan Africa. Terrorist incidents have become tragically common across Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. Around the Lake Chad Basin, Boko Haram terrorism have taken advantage of the pandemic and pushed back into my country Nigeria, whilst still launching raids and attacks in Chad, Cameroon, and Niger.
We have seen more than once how Boko Haram – which in French means “l’éducation occidentale est un péché” – can regroup, morphing in form and tactics. A matter of only a few years ago, they were reduced to a territory-less group, where once they had controlled an area in Nigeria three times the size of Lebanon. It has demonstrated why pushing against one front can prove futile if groups can simply migrate to ponds of insecurity across porous borders. Yet as instability has spread, so the networks that sustain it have strengthened – whether that be weapons supply chains from Libya, ideological imports of Al-Qaeda and ISIS from the Middle East, or trafficking networks that take money from those escaping instability and feeds it back into the system that generates it.
Meanwhile the infection is spreading further afield and reaching into the heart of Europe and France is not being spared the malignant, with innocents murdered on its streets. In that context, our fate is linked. Hence Paris has been active in this common fight. The French Operation Barkhane has provided critical boots on the ground in shoring up security across our region. Though challenges remain, it has ensured a wide expanse of territory has not descended into lawless playground where terrorists masquerading as fighting for Islam groups can freely flourish and multiply. That assistance has been profoundly appreciated in the region.
Now Nigeria and France should deepen our anti-terror cooperations if we are to overcome this scourge – particularly in the aftermath of the murder of the late President of Chad. Where for historical ties, support came to Nigeria from the UK, and to the G5 from France, the terrorists do not recognise these border-aligned distinctions. We must be agile and flexible, cooperating cross our borders to cut the head off their groups.
Indeed, we have already done much to strengthen our bond. Intelligence sharing is well developed, along with training against improvised explosives. But there is more we can do in cross-border military exercises and coordinating strategy. At the same time, we know France has borne much of the strain for combating terrorism of the region, and we – the leaders of Sahel countries – must also do more to present a unified front to lobby other Western nations, particularly Great Britain and the United States and the European Union for further military and humanitarian assistance.
However, we know that military gains do not provide the whole solution. Without security, economic opportunity remains fragile. Without economic opportunity, the propensity for conflict grows. The solution must therefore be two pronged. If we do improve those conditions, it leaves our people vulnerable to indoctrination, as one is vulnerable to COVID-19 without a vaccine.
In the Sahel, crises converge. Traditionally, this vast arid land has been poorer than its Mediterranean neighbours to the north and fertile land to its South. Now, climate change and environmental degradation squeeze the region of water sources, draining opportunity and increasing competition amongst various groups for scarce resources. The fallout from Libya has flushed the whole region with weapons, making any disputes and competition far more destructive. And it is upon these conditions, the lies and propaganda of terrorists who falsely claim to be Islamists promising salvation can find an audience. Islam is a religion of peace.
To counteract these, we must focus on initiatives that sustainably spread opportunity far and wide across the Sahel. Transport links across the Sahel have become dilapidated, much of it still the remnants of the colonial era. For the region’s burgeoning young population, reinvigorating these links or building anew is critical. It allows for efficient allocation of labour; the movement of inputs such as seed, fertiliser or equipment to the areas that need it; and freight to take produce or extractives to market or value-add factories.
Now, as the world emerges from the pandemic, we have the chance to build back better. Though we always knew it, COVID-19 underlined how interconnected and interdependent the world is. With that shattering reminder, we can create a world with that idea at its forefront – one that provides security and opportunity for both of us.
Strengthening military precautions can ensure the security of a country. Terrorism is a more abominable existence than a pandemic. We have to fight together.
Health / Ondo Government To Intensify Efforts To Combat Lassa Fever by LambertD: 8:47am On May 21, 2021
The Ondo Government says it has intensified measures to rid the state of rats in order to combat Lassa fever and premature deaths associated with the scourge
Dr Stephen Fagbemi, the state Director of Epidemiology and Disease Control in the Ministry of Health, said this on Thursday in Akure while briefing newsmen on government’s effort at controlling the Lassa fever scourge.
Fagbemi said the campaign, which was flagged-off in 2020 in Owo Local Government Area, would now be held in the remaining three most affected council areas of Akure South, Ondo West and Akoko South West of the state.
According to Fagbemi, the campaign on eradication of rats is designed to complement government’s initial efforts which is focused on managing Lassa fever patients and embarking on aggressive sensitisation of the people on the disease.
The director, who described Lassa fever as a deadly disease like Ebola if not quickly contained and treated.
According to him, over the years, the state government had made several efforts to combat the disease.
He said that the measures to rid the state of rats and the scourge would include Lassa Fever management and feedback mechanisms, distribution of free raticides to residents and aggressive sensitisation and awareness creation.
Fagbemi said the programme was aimed at raising the consciousness of the people that rats are not good in their surroundings as they pose dangers to health.
“One of the perennial problems we have in Nigeria is Lassa fever.
” It was first discovered in Nigeria in Lassa, a town in Borno State and it is now common in some states and unfortunately Ondo State is one of the states where it is commonly occurring.
” Ondo, Edo, and Ebonyi states are the most affected.
“The disease is transmitted by a virus that is carried around by a special breed of rat that has many breasts.
” It lives in it and reproduces in it. If the feaces or urine of the rat contaminates our food item, then the person becomes infected, “Fagbemi said.
Crime / Nigeria Accounts For 75% Crime In The Gulf Of Guinea —FG by LambertD: 2:26am On May 20, 2021
THE Federal Government has revealed that Nigeria accounts for between 65 per cent and 75 per cent of the crimes that take place on the waters in the Gulf of Guinea.

Speaking on Monday in Abuja, the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi said Nigeria has made progress tackling insecurity from its side in the Gulf of Guinea.

The Minister disclosed that a maritime security project would be launched in Lagos in June by President Muhammadu Buhari. Amaechi said “the crisis in the maritime sector is the maritime insecurity and it’s more complex than the world knows”, adding that the Federal Government had come up with a solution.
He explained that if the security plan involving the Navy, Army and the DSS was successful, “in the near future, there will be an improvement in the maritime security, then other countries in the Gulf of Guinea can adopt it.

“Seventy-five or 65 per cent of crime comes from our waters and if we are able to eliminate it then we will be making a lot of progress” he noted.  According to a statement made available to newsmen by Anastasia Ogbonna, the Minister further revealed that “If you are in the air, you will see what is happening on the water.

The helicopter has the capacity to drop in the Naval men when they see anything suspicious”. He expressed readiness
to partner and share information with anyone who wants information for the purpose of securing the Gulf of Guinea.

Earlier, the Belgium Ambassador to Nigeria, Daniel Bertrand officially presented a letter to the Minister requesting
the support of the Nigerian government for the Belgium candidate for the position at the International Maritime Organization.
Bertrand also mentioned that they had observed with keen interest what is happening in the Gulf of Guinea and would  like to be of assistance and give support to the implementation of maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.
Foreign Affairs / US Maintains Largest Global Travel & Tourism Market Distinction by LambertD: 2:47am On May 18, 2021
A new study found the United States maintained its position as the largest global Travel & Tourism market last year despite a massive COVID-19 related drop in Gross Domestic Profit (GDP) contribution.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) 2021 Economic Impact Report, the U.S. suffered a 41 percent fall in GDP contribution last year, while the second largest Travel & Tourism market, China, experienced a 59.9 percent decline during the same period.
Third-ranked Japan’s GDP contribution dropped by only 37 percent. Germany and Italy rounded out the top five, respectively.
In the United Kingdom, the world’s eighth biggest Travel & Tourism market reported a massive 62.3 percent decline in GDP contribution. The UK’s drop was blamed on COVID-19-related travel restrictions and quarantines.
“Globally, countries experienced an average fall in GDP contribution of 49.1 percent, while the worldwide economy shrank by just 3.7 percent last year, showing how travel restrictions have dramatically reduced Travel & Tourism’s contribution to economies around the world,” WTTC President Gloria Guevara said.
“However, despite the travel restrictions designed to curb the spread of the pandemic, the U.S. and China maintained their respective positions as first and second biggest Travel & Tourism markets,” Guevara continued.
The WTTC’s Economic Impact Report showed the global Travel & Tourism sector suffered a loss of almost $4.5 trillion in 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19, with nearly 62 million jobs lost.
On Wednesday, the WTTC announced major leadership changes, including the departure of longtime CEO Gloria Guevara and her eventual replacement, Julia Simpson, taking over on August 15.
Family / Nigeria Extends Naira Incentive Offer To Boost Diaspora Inflow by LambertD: 3:56am On May 15, 2021
Nigeria's central bank plans to extend a naira incentive offer to recipients of dollar remittance until further notice, it said, in a push to boost foreign currency supply.
Rising dollar demand has been putting pressure on the naira. Nigeria is hoping it can attract remittances from its Diaspora as providers of foreign exchange, such as offshore investors, have exited after COVID-19 triggered a fall in oil prices.
Recipients of remittances from the Nigerian Diaspora made through international money transfer operators licensed by the central bank will receive 5 naira ($0.013) for every imported dollar, the regulator has said.
The bank said the scheme, which was meant to end on May 8, would continue until further notice.
Remittances into Nigeria increased five fold from a weekly average of $5 million to more than $30 million, Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele said in February, after the changes to Diaspora transfer rules.
Nigeria changed the currency of remittance payments to the dollar from naira in November, after the currency fell to 500 naira on the black market. The naira is quoted at 485 per dollar on the black market on Thursday.
Remittances, or money transfers, make up the second-largest source of foreign exchange receipts after oil revenues in Nigeria, Africa's biggest economy. Around $26.4 billion was sent to Nigeria in 2019, according to the World Bank.
Health / Nigeria Bans Mass Gatherings After Virus Spikes Elsewhere by LambertD: 3:00am On May 13, 2021
Nigeria on Monday introduced new restrictions, including a ban on mass gatherings, after a spike in COVID-19 cases in some countries.
Although Nigeria has seen a steady decline in new cases of the virus in recent months, the surges in India, Brazil and Turkey have raised fears of a third wave of the pandemic in Africa’s most populous nation.
Mukhtar Mohammed of the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) told reporters in Abuja that, despite existing travel restrictions on Brazil, India and Turkey, there was a need to take urgent action.
This is due, he said, to Nigerians’ non-compliance with the safety and health guidelines in place.
The beefed-up measures are designed “to mitigate the risk of a spike in new cases while the nationwide vaccine rollout continues,” Mohammed added.
He announced the closure of bars, nightclubs, pubs, event centres as well as recreational venues throughout the country.
Also under the new rules, the number of people allowed at weddings and religious gatherings is cut in half, while official engagements, meetings and conferences should be held online.
“Approved gatherings must be held with physical distancing measures and with other non-pharmaceutical measures in place”.
Nigeria had imposed restrictions and lockdowns in March last year to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
But those restrictions were relaxed following a drop in virus cases in the country.
So far, the virus has infected 165,419 and claimed 2,065 lives since the first case in February last year, according to official figures.
A total of 1.7 million vaccine jabs have been administered to health workers and other vulnerable groups in the country.
Health / Tunisia Orders Lockdown Amid ‘worst’ Ever Health Crisis by LambertD: 2:43am On May 11, 2021
Tunisia ordered a partial lockdown from Sunday for the week-long Eid al-Fitr holidays, warning that any further increase in coronavirus infections could overwhelm specialist care facilities.
Announcing the measure on Friday, Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi said Tunisia was going through “the worst health crisis in its history”.
Mosques, markets and non-essential businesses will be closed under the new restrictions, which come as Muslims mark the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, Mechichi told reporters.
“Health institutions are at risk of collapse,” Mechichi said, adding that medics were stretched to the limit, with around 100 people a day dying of Covid-19.
More than 500 people are currently in intensive care, an unprecedented number that has required medics to set up field hospitals, and the North African country is struggling to meet the demand for oxygen.
Under new rules, travel will be banned between regions, gatherings and celebrations prohibited, and a 7:00 pm to 5:00 am curfew imposed.
Tunisians are encouraged to leave their homes only for what is strictly necessary, government spokeswoman Hasna Ben Slimane said.
The Mediterranean country, with a population of around 12 million, has recorded more than 300,000 coronavirus cases and over 11,200 deaths.
Tunisia’s economy has lurched from one crisis to another since the country’s 2011 revolution, with GDP estimated to have contracted by a record 8.2 percent last year.
Mechichi had said several times in recent weeks that Tunisia is unable to afford to repeat the restrictions put in place in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic.

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Health / Stakeholders Outline Malaria Elimination Strategies In Nigeria by LambertD: 8:29am On May 08, 2021
Stakeholders in the health sector have outlines strategies to eliminate malaria in the country.
The experts, at the St Racheal’s Pharma 2021 World Malaria Day Colloquium said the fight against malaria required a collective effort.
The chairman and chief executive officer of the firm, Pharm. Akinjide Adeosun, said in order to reach zero malaria target in Nigeria, there must be increased funding for anti-malaria initiatives.
In his remark titled, ‘Hope for a Zero Malaria Future in Nigeria’, Adeosun urged the federal and state governments to set aside one per cent of their 2022/2032 budgets to anti-malaria initiatives.
He also called for increased private sector participation in the anti-malaria programmes and initiatives.
The wife of the Imo State Deputy Governor, Dr Bola Njoku, lamented the governments’ lack of capacity and political will for the sustainability of approaches put in place to tackle the burden of malaria in the country.
She said, “Unfortunately, Nigeria depends highly on development partners for her sustainable programmes on malaria prevention and treatment, and seeing it as the only way the country can move forward.
“Most of the drugs, consumables and commodities used in the fight against malaria in Nigeria are imported as none is produced locally.”
She called for the implementation of community-based health insurance to cater for the people at the grassroots.
The Oyo State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Bashir Bello, said the state had applied several workable strategies to ensure a total elimination in the state, which had shown positive results.
He said the state flagged off programme that takes care of children directly from the home, with provision been made to give them the necessary care as well as the pregnant women getting all forms of necessary antenatal care including the intermittent treatment of malaria.
The director of public health, Ministry of Health, Ogun State, Dr. Festus Soyinka, said the state, in its 2021 appropriation bill targeted to improve access and utilisation of vector control intervention to at least 80 per cent of the state’s population by the end of the year.
Also, the director of disease control, Ministry of Health, Lagos State, Dr. Rotimi Agbolagorite, said malaria was endemic in the state and posed a major challenge to the state as it impedes human development.
“The cosmopolitan nature of Lagos, coupled with the people’s behaviour and the abundant distribution of people in the coastal areas, encourage the availability of stagnant water for the breeding of Anopheles mosquitoes,” he said.
Health / Wisconsin Catholic Priest Warns Congregants Against Covid Vaccine, Defying Pope by LambertD: 2:37am On May 07, 2021
The pastor of a Roman Catholic church in Wisconsin has been leading his flock astray by urging them to shun the Covid-19 vaccine.
The Rev. James Altman, of the St. James the Less Catholic Church in La Crosse, made his feelings clear about the vaccines in a posting that appeared in the church bulletin on April 18.
“DO NOT BE ANYONE’S GUINEA PIG,” is the headline on the item, which goes on to make a number of false claims about the efficacy and safety of the vaccines, claims that have been debunked by the majority of the medical establishment.
“God is still the best doctor and prayer is still the best medicine,” it concludes.
Altman called the pandemic that has killed over 577,000 Americans and sickened more than 32.3 million a “hoax” during his Easter weekend services that attracted 300 to 500 parishioners, The LaCrosse Tribune reported.
The church also posted a video on YouTube of the Easter Mass, which shows hardly any parishioners wearing masks and many of them taking communion by mouth, instead of by hand, which health experts say is far safer.
Not only was that Mass an apparent violation of the current La Crosse County Health Department advisory on mask wearing and crowd capacity, Altman also appears to have thumbed his nose at Bishop William Callahan of the Diocese of La Crosse.
“I am strongly encouraging that our Churches and schools continue the practice of having individuals wear masks while participating from a safe social distance,” Callahan stated in a March 31 letter, which was written after the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned the governor’s state-wide mask mandate.
When NBC News reached out to Altman for comment, a woman who said she worked at St. James said “he’s not having any interviews.”
“God bless you,” she added before hanging up.
NBC News has also reached out to a spokesman for Callahan for comment.
Altman is not the only Roman Catholic priest to speak out against Covid-19 vaccines. Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, sent his diocese a letter this month urging members to “reject any vaccine that uses the remains of aborted children in research, testing, development or production.”
In September, the Rev. Robert Altier at the Church of St. Raphael outside of Minneapolis preached a sermon that echoed much of the Covid-19 misinformation that then-President Donald Trump was spreading and closed by saying that the only way he’d get vaccinated was if “they arrest me, and hold me down, and force it upon me.”
But the positions those ultra-conservative Catholic leaders have taken runs counter to that of the Vatican, which in December said it was “morally acceptable” for Catholics to get vaccinated even though the vaccines were developed using cell lines that were derived from fetuses that were aborted decades ago.
As a result, U.S. Catholics — especially white members of the faith — are getting vaccinated at a high rate, according to a recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute and Interfaith Youth Core of more than 5,000 Americans conducted March 8-30.
Altman’s main objections to the vaccine, however, appears to be that he thinks it is “an experimental use of genetic altering substance that modifies your body — your temple of the Holy Spirit,” according to the church bulletin posting. “It is not a vaccine.”
That is false, an army of medical experts have said.
Callahan does “have the power to censor, silence, or remove” Altman, said Jason Steidl, a Catholic theologian and visiting professor of religious studies at St. Joseph's College in Brooklyn, New York.
“That said, many bishops are in a bind because many of their parishioners believe Covid is a hoax,” Steidl said. “If they speak out against conspiracy theories, they may lose the financial support of alt-right parishioners. Even if bishops believe that Covid is real and vaccinations work, it may be safest to remain quiet.”
Never mind, Steidl said, that “many bishops, the pope emeritus, and the pope himself have received the vaccine, and many have encouraged others to do the same.”
Also, Altman is not likely to face any fallout from his own flock, Steidl said.
“Most Catholics today attend parishes where they agree with the priest,” he said. “If the priest consistently preaches something they don't like, they'll leave and find a parish that suits them better. Most priests, therefore, are preaching to the choir.”
“More progressive priests will encourage vaccination and their parishioners will get vaccinated. Alt-right priests will preach against it and their parishioners will refuse to get vaccinated. In either case, parishioners probably would have followed their own ideological inclinations regardless of what the priest told them.”
Some of Altman’s parishioners have put up a “Friends of Father James Altman” Facebook page, which has 752 members and features posts from people who make bogus assertions like there is “no science behind false religion of covidism” and feature so-called experts making baseless claims about the supposed dangers of the Covid-19 vaccines.
“He is the kind of priest we need lots of,” one parishioner wrote of Altman.
Altman has been courting controversy for a while. Before the presidential election, he insisted in a video produced and posted on YouTube by a right-wing group that “you cannot be Catholic and a Democrat.” He also denounced the Black Lives Matter movement, insisted “zero” Catholics voted for President Barack Obama, and made other conspiratorial false claims about climate change and systemic racism that are common in right-wing media.
Callahan responded at the time by calling Altman “divisive,” adding that the “generalization and condemnation of entire groups of people is completely inappropriate and not in keeping with our values or the life of virtue.”

We should use the correct concept to guide us. The virus has hurt us. We must use the most reasonable method to combat the virus's invasion and avoid the infection causing the virus to break out again on a large scale.
Health / NLC Demands Compensation For COVID-19 Victims by LambertD: 2:42am On May 06, 2021
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Wednesday urged the Federal Government to recognise COVID-19 as a workplace disease, notifiable and compensable occupational hazard.
Mr Ayuba Wabba, the NLC President, said this in a statement commemorating the 2021 International Workers Memorial Workers’ Day, with the theme “Save Lives at Work”, in Abuja.
Wabba said that this was significant coming at the epoch of the global fight against the novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
”The contribution of frontline workers especially healthcare workers is a formidable buffer between deaths in thousands and deaths in millions.
”Every day, our healthcare workers courageously dare the stare of death in selfless service to rescue the lives of others,” he said.
According to him, in view of the foregoing, the NLC demands as action points in the push to “Save Lives at Work” not only in Nigeria but all over the world of work.
”The listing of occupational health and safety as a fundamental right at work and the recognition of COVID-19 as a workplace disease and as a notifiable and compensable occupational hazard.
”The provision of training and capacity building for trade unions to deal with Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) issues and push for reforms in the Factories Act particularly in relation to enforcement and penalties.
”Demand for compensation of COVID-19 victims in the Workplace; adequate and Quality Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs) for workers at the workplace.
”The payment of health hazards to health workers and other frontline workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic and reinforcement of workplace observation of COVID-19 protocols,” he said.
While labour expect actions on these demands, Wabba assured workers of its commitment to protect their health and safety at work at all times.
He therefore said in line with the theme of the Memorial Day, labour would make a strong case for the welfare and protection of living workers.
”There is no better day to demonstrate our readiness to fight for the living than today.
”We will fight for the living by highlighting the preventable nature of most workplace incidents and ill-health, to promote campaigns and union organisation in the fight for improvements in occupational safety and health in our different workplaces.”
The NLC president also said given the ravaging effect of COVID-19 pandemic, the consciousness of health as a fundamental human right has never been so globally appreciated.
”It is in light of this understanding that trade unions and international workers solidarity movement are now making a global push to lift the status of occupational health and safety to the highest level at the ILO,” he said.
He noted that the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), had a strong push for the listing of COVID-19 as a notifiable and compensable occupational health hazards for workers infected with the virus.
”There is also a very strong advocacy by trade unions all over the world for the International Labour Conference to adopt Occupational Health and Safety as a fundamental right at work.
”This would translate to stronger action and commitment by governments worldwide to take responsibility and accountability on their duties to oblige compliance from employers both in the public and private sectors,” he said.
Wabba, however, said the celebration was in the memory of workers who had paid the supreme sacrifice in the course of their duties as workers or as activists fighting for the rights and interests of the working class.
”It is also a day to remember workers who had lost some limb, suffered injury, got infected at work or endured other forms of severe loss while in the workplace,” he said.
Wabba commended the uncommon love, faith, courage and sacrifice by frontline workers who had given more than what the call of duty demands to give hope to humanity.
Health / CBN Forex: Transfercorp, VFD Group, Oda International Monetary Transfer Operator by LambertD: 8:20am On Apr 30, 2021
Ds additional approval wey di apex bank announce so na part of efforts to boost wetin dem call diaspora remittance.
Diaspora remittance simply mean inflows of foreign currencies from abroad.
Wit dis new licence, e don increase di total number of international money companies wey dey operate for di kontri to 57.
Tori be say in recent times CBN dey come up wit policy wey go encourage inflows of foreign currencies.
CBN Govnor Godwin Emefiele, say dis reforms go support Nigeria economy and help reduce di impact of di COVID-19 pandemic.
Di central bank say all diaspora remittances must go through di deposit money banks rather than mortgage or fintech institutions.
"Since I become di CBN govnor, I don dey hear about di size of diaspora remittances; Some say $20 billion, in fact some say e dey about $30 billion.
Honestly, I dey looking for di $30 billion or $20 billion, I neva see am". Na so oga Emefiele tok.
Health / COVID-19: Active Cases Drop As NCDC Discharges 215 Patients by LambertD: 4:10am On Apr 29, 2021
The active cases of COVID-19 have dropped to 7,731 as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, discharged 215 patients.
The health agency made the announcement on Sunday night via a post on its verified Facebook page.
NCDC also confirmed 35 fresh cases of the virus in 5 states and the FCT.
The new cases bring the total number of recorded infections so far to 164,719.
No fewer than 2,062 persons have died due to complications from the disease while about 154,926 patients have been successfully treated and discharged.
The post reads: “35 new cases of #COVID19Nigeria;
164,719 confirmed
154,926 discharged
2,062 deaths
Today’s report includes:
“Data from Oyo State recorded on the 24th and 25th of April, 2021.
“215 community recoveries in Oyo State managed in line with guidelines”.
Health / COVID-19: Nigeria Vaccinates Additional 9,255 People by LambertD: 2:11am On Apr 28, 2021
An additional 9,255 people received their first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria
on Saturday.
This brings the total number of vaccinated people in the country to 1,167, 837.
“As of today, April 24, 1, 167, 837 eligible Nigerians have so far been vaccinated with first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine,” the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) said on Twitter Saturday evening.
According to the data, Lagos, the epicentre of the disease in Nigeria, takes the lead with 226,993 persons already vaccinated.
This is followed by Kaduna with 60,659 persons vaccinated, Kano – 60,258, FCT – 57,190 and Ogun with 53,465vaccinated persons.
Nigeria has recorded over 160,000 infections and 2,061 fatalities from the COVID-19 virus. The country has, however, recorded no death from the virus in the past 12 days.
The Nigerian government had said it plans to vaccinate 109 million people against the COVID-19 virus over a period of two years.
Health authorities said only eligible population from 18 years and above will be vaccinated in four phases.
Business / Address Nigeria’s Social Economic Problems —prophet Arabambi by LambertD: 2:29am On Apr 26, 2021
Prophet Timothy Abass Arabambi, Assistant General Evangelist, Christ Apostolic Church (C.A.C) Worldwide and General Overseer, C.A.C Reformation Land, Olunloyo, Akanran, Ibadan, Nigeria, has said that the state of the nation presently is worrisome and calls for a great concern, as the nation continues to witness negative trends, moreso as we battle with the post effect of COVID -19 Pandemic and its second wave in Nigeria and around the world, and  as a stakeholder in the Nigeria project, I want to call on the Federal Government alongside the State Governments on the need to proffer immediate solutions to the plights, pains and agonies the masses are going through, coupled with the inflation, hunger, insecurity, and other social vices, instead of thinking of another lockdown, which might add to the pains of Nigerians.
Prophet Timothy Arabambi who stated this in a press release added that on the hard times Nigerians are facing, we now hear unpalatable news of terror, anguish, sadness, kidnapping, bare faced wickedness and hopelessness, such that frustration is written on the faces of many people, there are dashed hopes, thus, it has become clear to many people, that, there is no solution from man, but only solution to the numerous hardships facing mankind, is in Almighty.
Prophet Arabambi added that there is no doubt that most Nigerians are passing through hard and tough times, enduring much pains and sufferings and even a lot – like – lack of electricity to power their homes, high cost of food stuffs, joblessness, a high poverty incidence and hunger, as all these have overbearing and negative multiplier effects on the people’s livelihood.
Prophet Arabambi also pointed out that government should make some moves to salvage the situations and ensure that the nation is healed, of many people who placed their trust and hope in earthly authorities have had their hopes dashed, and the numerous hardship and challenges that the world are experiencing today, are the fulfillments of the Scriptures.
Prophet Arabambi also urged Nigerians to always respect constituted authorities, rather than wishing them evil, thus, we should trust in God for the country to overcome its socio-economic and spiritual challenges.
Prophet Arabambi advised the Federal Government on the need to declare state of emergency on unemployment, as Governments at all levels, must put in place sound economic frame work to tackle unemployment.
Health / United States Hands Over Critical COVID-19 Vaccine Data Tools To Uganda’s Minist by LambertD: 3:08am On Apr 24, 2021
Kampala, April 23, 2021 – The United States is working hand-in-hand with the people of Uganda to help prevent, detect, and respond to COVID-19. As part of this effort, the United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has committed $3.2 million to support the Government of Uganda’s rollout of the country’s phase one COVID-19 vaccination program. The first phase of this support is the printing of critical data tools used for the documentation, reporting, and accountability of the vaccine rollout in health clinics throughout the country.
Today at Kiswa Health Center III, USAID/Uganda Mission Director Richard Nelson handed over COVID-19 Vaccine Data Tools to the Ministry of Health. Valued at $560,000, the tools will be delivered to districts throughout Uganda via the Government of Uganda’s National Medical Stores. The data tools include approximately 4,500 field guides for health workers delivering vaccines; over 20,000 COVID-19 vaccine registers to keep a record of clients receiving the vaccine; and over 4 million imm
Beyond these COVID-19 Vaccine Data Tools, USAID support for the vaccine rollout in Uganda will include working with 72 districts under USAID’s regional integrated health projects and its maternal and child health project to integrate COVID-19 vaccines into the national immunization program. USAID will also support efforts to provide the public with timely, accurate, science-based information about the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines and the vaccination process.
In total, the United States, working through USAID, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Departments of Defense and State, has contributed more than $48.2 million in specific COVID-19 funding throughout the past year to help Uganda prevent, detect, and respond to COVID-19 in Uganda. Globally, the United States has contributed $2 billion to the COVAX Facility and has committed a further $2 billion in the effort to provide safe and effective vaccines to people around the world, including Uganda.
Health / COVID Surges, U.S. Asks Citizens To Avoid Traveling To India by LambertD: 2:21am On Apr 22, 2021
Amid a surge in COVID cases in India, the United States' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has told its citizens to avoid travelling to India. ''Travellers should avoid all travel to India. Even fully vaccinated travellers may be at risk for getting & spreading variants and should avoid all travel to India. If you must travel to India, get fully vaccinated before travel,'' said CDC.
The US State Department said on Monday it will boost its "Do Not Travel" guidance to about 80% of countries worldwide, citing "unprecedented risk to travelers" from the COVID-19 pandemic. "This update will result in a significant increase in the number of countries at Level 4: Do Not Travel, to approximately 80% of countries worldwide," the department said in a statement.
Most Americans were already prevented from traveling to much of Europe because of COVID-19 restrictions. Washington has barred nearly all non-U.S. citizens who have recently been in most of Europe, China, Brazil, Iran and South Africa.
Britain on Monday also imposed its strictest travel curbs on India after an explosion of coronavirus cases there, hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson called off a trip to New Delhi.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said India was being added to Britain's "red list" of countries, banning all arrivals from India except for UK or Irish nationals, who must pay to stay in a government-approved quarantine hotel for 10 days on their return.
Hancock said India was being added to Britain's "red list" of countries, banning all arrivals from India except for UK or Irish nationals, who must pay to stay in a government-approved quarantine hotel for 10 days on their return.
India reported 273,810 new infections on Monday, its highest daily rise since the start of the pandemic. It has now reported more than 15 million infections, second only to the United States.
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