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|Health / U.S. Donating Additional 1 Million COVID-19 Vaccines To Canada by mxhabib2001: 2:21am On Jun 30, 2021|
The United States is donating one million additional doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Canada.
The doses, which were produced in the U.S., will arrive in Toronto later today, according to a White House official speaking on the condition they not be named, as they are not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. White House COVID-19 co-ordinator Jeffrey Zients later confirmed doses were arriving in Canada on Thursday in a briefing to the media.
This delivery is part of a broad donation strategy previously announced by the Biden administration.
By the end of this month, the U.S. is expected to have donated some 80 million doses worldwide. The one million shots being sent to Canada are a part of this allocation.
In addition, U.S. President Joe Biden announced during the G7 summit in the U.K. that the U.S. will purchase and donate 500 million Pfizer doses over the next year.
At that same meeting, Canada also pledged to donate up to 100 million doses as part of the global effort to end the pandemic.
The U.S. also loaned 1.5 million doses of Astra Zeneca to Canada earlier this year.
Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand confirmed the new doses are set to arrive this evening, and thanked the Biden administration for its partnership.
"We continue to work with partners around the world, including the United States, to ensure access to vaccines for Canadians, as well as to help meet demands internationally," she said in a statement to CBC News.
Why does it matter?
While Canada's vaccine rollout has sped up in recent weeks, it still lags behind the U.S. when it comes to delivering second doses.
So far, over 44 per cent of the American population is considered fully vaccinated. In Canada, that number is just over 14 per cent.
Overall, vaccine enthusiasm appears to be much higher in Canada. Some 65 per cent of Canadians have had a first dose.
That number in the U.S., according to the Centres for Disease Control, is 52 per cent.
Some American politicians are keen to see more Canadians become fully vaccinated, in the hopes that the Trudeau government will start lifting border restrictions.
Ottawa has said that it hopes to lift some border restrictions by early July, though would not commit to a specific time frame.
In addition to this U.S. allotment, Canada was already set to receive about 8.2 million shots this week - 5.8 million from Moderna and another 2.4 million from Pfizer.
|Health / EU Countries Agree To Start Lifting Travel Restrictions For U.S. Tourists by mxhabib2001: 3:03am On Jun 29, 2021|
European Union member states agreed on Wednesday to add the United States to the list of countries where non-essential travel restrictions should be lifted. This move was adopted during the meeting of the Permanent Representatives of the Group of 27 in Brussels.
The recommendation is non-binding, and the governments of individual EU countries continue to have the right to require test results or vaccination records and set other entry conditions.
The EU does not have a unified pandemic tourism or border policy, but for months it has been developing a universal digital travel certificate for people who have been vaccinated, tested negative for the coronavirus, or recently recovered from the virus. EU lawmakers approved the plan last week.
The free certificate will contain a QR code with advanced security features, allowing people to move between EU countries without quarantining or undergoing additional coronavirus tests on arrival.
Several countries in the European Union have begun to use the system, including Belgium, Spain, Germany, Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark and Poland. The rest is expected to start using on July 1.
|Travel / Emirates Ban Nigeria Passenger Flights Indefinitely by mxhabib2001: 8:45am On Jun 25, 2021|
Emirates flight ban on Nigeria dey come barely 48 hours afta UAE announce plans to resume flights connecting Nigeria to Dubai.
"In line wit goment directives, passenger flights to and from Nigeria (Lagos and Abuja) dey suspended wit effect from 21 June 2021 until further notice."
Na wetin Emirates tok inside statement BBC Pidgin cari eye see.
"Customers travelling to and from Lagos and Abuja no go dey accepted for travel.
"Customers wey don travel to or connect through Nigeria inside di last 14 days no dey permitted to board from any oda point to di UAE,"
Na so di airline further add put for di statement dem post for Emirates website.
Dubai Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management release new travel protocol on 19 June to resume flights from Nigeria.
Di eased travel rules wey suppose start Wednesday 23, June, 2021 also affect passengers arriving from India and South Africa.
"We regret di inconvenience wey e cause, and affected customers gatz contact dia booking agent or Emirates call centre for rebooking.
"Emirates remain committed to Nigeria, and we look forward to resuming passenger services wen conditions allow." Emirates add.
Why Emirates ban flights to Nigeria?
Since 4 February, 2021 Emirates Airlines stop to dey airlift Nigerians to Dubai from Abuja and Lagos airports.
Di ban na sake of di refusal by di Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 [PTF] to allow di airline conduct rapid test for coronavirus.
Di airline make dis test compulsory for dia passengers, four hours before dem board dia flights.
But di arrangement no go down well wit Nigerian Federal Goverment authorities.
Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 [PTF], according tori wey dey ground, dey plan to provide di infrastructure for Emirates Airlines.
Di plan na to conduct Rapid Antigens Test [RDT] on passengers wey wan fly from Nigeria in readiness for di resumption of flights.
But wit dis latest travel update, Emirates flights from Nigeria fit no dey available for a longer time.
|Health / Biden Administration Announces Plan To Share 55 Million Covid-19 Doses Abroad by mxhabib2001: 2:50am On Jun 24, 2021|
The Biden administration on Monday announced its plan to distribute the remaining 55 million of the 80 million Covid-19 vaccine doses that President Joe Biden has pledged to allocate by the end of this month.
For all 80 million doses the administration has pledged to share, the White House has said 75% will be shared through the global vaccination program called Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access, or COVAX, and 25% will be shared directly with countries in need. Earlier this month, the administration announced its distribution plan for the first 25 million doses.
"Our goals are to increase global COVID-19 vaccination coverage, prepare for surges and prioritize healthcare workers and other vulnerable populations based on public health data and acknowledged best practice, and help our neighbors and other countries in need," the White House said in a statement. "And, as we have previously stated, the United States will not use its vaccines to secure favors from other countries."
Approximately 41 million of this second tranche of 55 million doses will be shared through COVAX, according to the White House.
Of those COVAX doses, Approximately 14 million will be distributed in Latin America and the Caribbean -- specifically to Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay, Bolivia, Uruguay, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti and other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries, Dominican Republic, Panama, and Costa Rica.
Approximately 16 million of the COVAX allocations will be distributed in Asia and sent to India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Maldives, Bhutan, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan, Cambodia and the Pacific Islands.
Approximately 10 million of the COVAX doses will go toward countries in Africa that will be selected in coordination with the African Union.
Approximately 14 million, or 25% of the 55 million vaccines, will be sent directly to Colombia, Argentina, Haiti, other CARICOM countries, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Panama, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Cabo Verde, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen, Tunisia, Oman, West Bank and Gaza, Ukraine, Kosovo, Georgia, Moldova and Bosnia.
The White House did not provide exact figures for how many doses would be sent to each country, only estimates for regions in general.
The doses will consist of Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines. AstraZeneca's vaccine has not been approved by federal regulators.
The White House is no longer committing to having all 80 million doses distributed by the end of June, which was its previously stated goal. Instead, a White House official said, "Shipments will go out as soon as the countries are ready to receive the doses and we work through the complex logistics with them."
The White House is citing logistical challenges as the reason behind the delay in vaccine shipment, although CNN reported other issues, including officials having to develop a contingency plan given the doses they initially planned to use -- made by AstraZeneca -- had not yet cleared a US Food and Drug Administration safety and efficacy review.
"What we have found to be the biggest challenge is not actually the supply. We have plenty of doses to share with the world. But this is a Herculean logistical challenge, and we've seen that as we've begun to implement," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday.
Among those challenges, Psaki said, are sharing safety and regulatory information, ensuring teams have the supplies and transportation needed to receive the doses, ensuring proper storage and prep, and to make sure the vaccines clear customs. Language barriers have also been an issue, Psaki said.
"Just like we have in our domestic response, we will move as expeditiously as possible, while abiding by U.S. and host country regulatory and legal requirements, to facilitate the safe and secure transport of vaccines across international borders," the White House said in a statement. "This will take time, but the President has directed the Administration to use all the levers of the U.S. government to protect individuals from this virus as quickly as possible."
As part of Biden's efforts to reassert US leadership on the world stage, the President announced earlier this month that the US planned to donate 500 million Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine doses globally. The move will also serve to counter efforts by Russia and China to use their own state-funded vaccines to expand their global influence.
In February, Biden said $2 billion in US contribution would go toward a global coronavirus vaccine initiative and would provide support to COVAX. Biden also pledged an additional $2 billion in funding contingent on contributions from other nations and dose delivery targets being met.
|Health / California Rolls Out Digital Vaccine Verification — But Don't Call It A Passport by mxhabib2001: 2:50am On Jun 22, 2021|
Don't call it a vaccine passport, but California now offers something that's awfully close.
The state's Departments of Public Health and Technology unveiled a website Friday that lets users who verify their identities get digital copies of their Covid-19 vaccination record.
Called the Digital Covid-19 Vaccine Record portal, the site is meant as a digital backup to the paper cards from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that Americans receive when they get a Covid-19 vaccination, said Amy Tong, the state's chief information officer.
It "provides Californians a way to view and save their own vaccine record," Tong said on a press call. "Instead of having a card, if they want to have a digital version of the same CDC card, this is your opportunity to do so."
Residents can take a screen grab of their record on the site if they want to avoid carrying around a CDC card, she said.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has said that the system does not constitute a "vaccine passport" that businesses could use to filter people who are not vaccinated.
But California does mandate that businesses hosting a mass indoor gathering, like a large concert or sporting event, verify that all entrants either have a recent negative Covid-19 test or are vaccinated.
There is no national vaccine passport, however, and the Biden administration has said that there are no plans for one. While CDC cards were intended only as a means for an individual to keep track of their shots rather than as a way to verify that someone's been vaccinated, they have defaulted to that purpose for much of the country.
Some states, including Arizona, Florida and Texas, have issued executive orders demanding that no businesses can demand to see if a customer has been vaccinated.
New York is the only state that has an official app, called Excelsior Pass, that's tied to its state vaccination database. Vaccinated residents can use it to verify their status to get into large venues, and is effectively a vaccine passport.
Though California's portal functions only as a website, rather than an app, it's otherwise essentially the same thing, said California's chief technology innovation officer, Rick Klau.
"This is very similar in concept to what New York launched with Excelsior Pass, which is an opportunity for a resident, in our case the state of California, to have a digital copy of their vaccination record," Klau said on the press call.
|Health / Seven Killed Following Petrol Tanker Explosion In Nigeria by mxhabib2001: 3:10am On Jun 19, 2021|
Seven people were killed following a petrol tanker explosion in Nigeria’s southwestern state of Ogun on Wednesday, local authorities said.
Two others sustained varying degrees of injuries in the incident at Ajilete, a town in the southwestern state on Wednesday morning, said Akinwunmi Olaluwoye, head of the Federal Road Safety Corps in Ogun.
Olaluwoye told reporters at the scene of the accident that a bus suspected of overspeeding rammed into the tanker laden with petroleum products while it was ascending the sloppy road.
“The tanker exploded immediately and caused the disaster,” he said, adding local police are already carrying out a post-incident assessment.
Deadly road accidents are frequently reported in Nigeria, often caused by overloading, bad condition of roads, and reckless driving.
|Health / U.S. Must Vaccinate More People by mxhabib2001: 3:54am On Jun 17, 2021|
Fauci says U.S. must vaccinate more people before Delta becomes dominant Covid variant in America
U.S. health officials are scrambling to get more Americans vaccinated to keep the Delta variant, first identified in India, from proliferating across the United States.
The variant has become the dominant strain in the U.K., accounting for an estimated 60% of new cases. It’s now more prevalent than the Alpha strain, formerly called the B.1.1.7 strain, which was first identified in the U.K., and transmission is peaking in people between the ages of 12 and 20, White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said at a press briefing Tuesday.
In the U.S., the Delta variant accounts for more than 6% of cases scientists have been able to sequence, he said. The actual number is likely higher, as the U.S. is running the genetic sequence on a fraction of cases.
“In the U.K., the Delta variant is rapidly emerging as the dominant variant ... It is replacing the B.1.1.7,” Fauci said. “We cannot let that happen in the United States.”
President Joe Biden has laid out a goal of administering at least one vaccine shot to 70% of all U.S. adults by the Fourth of July. It’s a bit of a stretch with less than four weeks to go and 63.7% of the adult population having received their first shot, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Roughly 53% of all U.S. adults are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
First detected in October, the Delta variant has spread to at least 62 countries, the World Health Organization said last week.
“We continue to observe significantly increased transmissibility and a growing number of countries reporting outbreaks associated with this variant,” the WHO said of the Delta strain last week, noting that further study was a high priority.
The Delta strain has a stranglehold on India, causing a spike in infections and deaths that has clogged hospital systems. The Indian government announced Monday that the country will soon begin providing Covid-19 vaccines for free to all adults in the country.
Fauci also said that the Delta variant is more contagious and may be associated with a higher risk of hospitalization than the original “wild type” Covid-19 strain.
Studies also show that two doses of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca shots are effective against the Delta strain, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Two doses of the Pfizer vaccine were shown to be 88% effective against the Delta variant, while two doses of the AstraZeneca shot were shown to be 60% effective against the strain, according to NIH data.
Fauci stressed the importance of getting two doses after NIH studies showed that, three weeks after being given, just one dose of either vaccine provided only 33% efficacy against the Delta variant.
|Health / Adeyemi Boosts Healthcare With Medical Books For LUTH Library by mxhabib2001: 3:02am On Jun 15, 2021|
As part of its efforts to boost health care system and medical education in the country, Director of Australia Capital Territory Canberra, Bola Adeyemi, has donated 22 medical books to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Idi Araba.
Dr. Titus Ogundare, who made the donation on behalf of Adeyemi, said the gesture was to partner with the hospitals on its mission and vision of research and health care.
He noted that the books donated are to enhance the medical team library and enhance the health care system.
“The books would be of great benefit and if the medical team would study the books, more donations on medical books would be supplied. The reasons why the books were donated is because they saw the benefit of it in Nigeria,” he said.
Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC), Prof. Waisu Lanre Adeyemo, added that the books are very useful to the medical team. According to him, the books cut across several specialties in medicines, nursing and dentistry.
Adeyemo noted that the head of nursing was present and assured them that the books would be useful to other medical experts as well as medical students-in-training, doctors and patients who need professional help.
“It would be more useful to our specialties and the books would be dropped in the library for all medical personnel in Lagos University Teaching Hospital,” Adeyemo added.
He said the government alone cannot fund the heath care delivery in the country, but supports are needed to achieve more than paying of salaries and allowances.
According to him, buying of equipment and consumables is a necessity for a tertiary teaching hospital.
“The knowledge is also very important, that is why we have books and journals and we have invested in getting books from the Australia Capital Territory and we would be making a good use of them,” he said.
Lanre added that they need help from other sectors in funding their equipment and other facilities because they are here for the public.
He said LUTH is one of the most known teaching hospitals all over the world and they need endowments and other benefits from Nigerians, home and in diaspora.
|Health / US Lays Out Plans To Strengthen Supply Chains by mxhabib2001: 8:35am On Jun 11, 2021|
The administration of US President Joe Biden has unveiled plans to strengthen the country's supply chains for chips and other critical technologies and resources.
The plans are based on an executive order that Biden signed in February.
The administration points out that the US share of global semiconductor production has fallen to just 12 percent. That is down from 37 percent two decades ago.
It plans to urge Congress to agree to 50 billion dollars in spending to support production and research and development in the industry.
The administration will seek the cooperation of allies such as Japan and South Korea.
It will step up support for development of electric vehicle batteries, and mining and production of rare earth metals.
It will promote domestic manufacture of pharmaceutical products and designate up to 100 items as key.
It says it will seek multilateral cooperation to respond to unfair trade practices that harm its domestic industries.
|Health / College Towns Felt Ignored By Universities And Resented The Students. by mxhabib2001: 2:57am On Jun 10, 2021|
A dozen mayors wrote to Big Ten officials last fall. Football was returning to their communities, and they wanted help.
“We humbly request,” the mayors wrote, “a few practical measures that the Big Ten Conference can take to ensure we have the tools we need to combat the spread of COVID-19.”
A humble request. The words are telling: about where power lies, and where it doesn’t. And about where the leaders of these Big Ten college towns — often dwarfed in size and in influence by their university neighbors — fit into the conversation. Which is to say, often on the side.
“Kill ‘em with kindness” is how Aaron Stephens explains the letter’s tone. He’s the mayor of East Lansing, home of Michigan State University. He didn’t really have to push many of his fellow mayors to sign the letter, he says.
After all, the requests weren’t that crazy. In the middle of a pandemic, the mayors wanted the Big Ten to make decisions about games based on rates of COVID-19 in the community, not just the teams. And they sought few or no night games, to cut down on parties and drinking.
The mayors never got a meeting. Big Ten planning, Stephens says, was well underway by the time they sent their requests.
Still, Stephens sees the letter as an opening. Maybe now there will be a thought that hasn’t been there before, he says. Some conference official, amid making the next decision, might say: Maybe we should reach out to these cities.
And that humble wording? “We want to work together,” Stephens says, and it’s a long game. “Do you really burn the bridge down?”
|Health / Nigeria: Review Of IHR At The 74th World Health Assembly - What Can Nigeria Impl by mxhabib2001: 2:43am On Jun 08, 2021|
The 74th World Health Assembly has just ended. All plenary sessions were open to be viewed on the WHO website. In this article Nigeria Health Watch's Kemisola Agbaoye revisits some of the discussions around pandemic preparedness and response, and the potential implications for Nigeria.
Given the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it has had on the world, it has become critical that every citizen is aware of the International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005 and what it means for us. The IHR identifies health-related events that each State Party (country) signs up to and is bound by these regulations to report to the World Health Organisation (WHO). It provides guidance on prevention, detection, and response to public health emergencies with the potential for international spread to the 198 World Health Organisation (WHO) member states.
The IHR 2005 is a legally binding instrument that consists of 66 articles, including communication and coordination mechanisms and activities between WHO and states parties, roles and responsibilities of WHO and IHR National Focal Points (NFPs) in member states, and disease surveillance and responses activities required in-country and at points of entry. It also specifies the core capacities that countries must have to fulfil these functions. One of the major objectives of the IHR, is to control the spread of a severe public health threat, such as COVID-19, while avoiding unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade. Given the events of the last year and a half, it has come under immense scrutiny on its sufficiency to meet its desired objectives.
The COVID-19 pandemic has posed the most significant threat to human life and livelihoods in recent times. This has necessitated widespread restrictions to international traffic and trade with the institution of travel bans and lockdowns to mitigate its spread. How did the IHR 2005 function in this pandemic? How did countries and WHO adhere to the provisions of the IHR? Were the provisions in the IHR sufficient to prevent, detect and respond to the pandemic?
To answer these questions, the WHO convened two important committees to assess both the performance of the IHR, but also the performance of the WHO and its member states in responding to the pandemic. The first committee is the IHR expert review committee whose mandate was to review the functioning of the IHR during the COVID-19 response. The second committee is an independent panel of experts set up to review the spread, actions and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The panel was tasked with providing evidence-based recommendations to ensure that countries and global health institutions including the WHO, are better prepared to address health threats.
|Health / Adolescent Heart Reaction May Be A Rare Vaccine Link by mxhabib2001: 2:39am On Jun 06, 2021|
Health authorities are trying to determine whether heart inflammation that may occur with multiple infections after receiving a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine may also be a rare side effect in adolescents and young adults.
A report published online Friday in the Journal of Pediatrics on 7 teenage boys in the United States in several states is one of the latest reports of heart inflammation found after COVID-19 vaccination, but the link with the vaccine has not been confirmed.
These 14 to 19-year-old boys received a Pfizer BioNTech vaccine in April or May and developed chest pain within a few days. Heart imaging tests show a type of inflammation of the heart muscle called myocarditis.
No one is critically ill. The co-author of the report, Dr. Preeti Jaggi, an infectious disease expert at Emory University, said that everyone is healthy enough to be sent home after two to six days of hospitalization and is "well."
She said that more follow-up is needed to determine how fares are for the seven, but the heart change is likely to be temporary.
Only one of the seven boys in the pediatric report has evidence that they may have previously been infected with the coronavirus, and doctors determined that none of them had rare inflammation related to the coronavirus.
These cases echo the reports of young men diagnosed in Israel after receiving Pfizer injections.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reminded doctors last month that it is monitoring reports of heart inflammation in a small number of teenagers and young adults following the mRNA vaccine, which is produced by Pfizer and Moderna.
The CDC has not yet determined whether it is really related to the vaccine, and continues to urge everyone 12 years and older to get the COVID-19 vaccine because the risk of this disease is much higher than the vaccine. Pfizer vaccines have been authorized for use in children as young as 12 years old; Moderna lenses are only allowed for adult use.
This inflammation of the heart can be caused by a variety of infections, including COVID-19 and certain medications, and there are few reports of other types of vaccinations.
The authorities will have to figure out whether the COVID-19 vaccination cases are more frequent than the expected "background incidence".
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that most of the patients are men, who develop symptoms after the second dose, and their symptoms improve rapidly.
"I think we are in a waiting period and we need to see if this is causal," said John Grabenstein of the Immunization Action Coalition, who was the head of the Department of Defense's immunization program.
The comments published along with the pediatric report pointed out that among children under the age of 18 in the United States, there are more than 4 million cases of COVID-19, more than 15,000 hospitalizations and at least 300 deaths.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Friday that COVID-19-related hospitalizations for children aged 12 to 17 declined at the beginning of this year, but rose again in March and April. Institutional researchers said possible reasons include the spread of new virus variants, more children returning to school, or relaxation of masks and social distancing rules.
Although infected children are less likely to be seriously ill than adults, the CDC's data on about 200 hospitalizations from 14 states shows that one third of them are treated in intensive care units. The report did not mention any heart involvement.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Varensky, said that the hospitalization caused concern and urged parents to vaccinate their children.
She said in a statement: "Vaccination is our way to escape this pandemic."
Pediatrics commented that cases of heart inflammation require more investigation, but added: “The benefits of vaccination against this deadly and highly contagious disease clearly far outweigh any potential risks.”
Co-author, Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, Chair of the Infectious Diseases Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics, participated in Pfizer vaccine research, including a COVID-19 vaccine study for children.
|Health / Electoral Reforms: PDP Asks EU To Review Partnership With Nigeria by mxhabib2001: 2:27am On Jun 03, 2021|
THE National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Uche Secondus, on Tuesday, urged the European Union to review its partnership with Nigeria.
This, he said, would go a long way in strengthening democracy in the country.
The opposition party leader made the appeal while receiving an EU team of Evaluators led by Prof Adele Juniad and Prof Victor Adetula, in his office at Wadata House, Abuja.
Secondus said, “If the European Union has put in about €100 million supporting democratic institutions in Nigeria like the Independent National Electoral Commission, it should ensure that they play by the rules.
“I urge you, EU officials, to sit down with the INEC and insist that the right things are done and to also put necessary pressure for the passage and signing of the amended Electoral Act.
“You must find a way to sanction INEC or any agency that receives from you but not playing by the rules.”
The PDP national chairman also noted that the democracy which the PDP nurtured and sustained for 16 unbroken years, has been put under a lot of stress since the All Progressives Congress took over six years ago.
He further said, the reluctance of the APC-led administration to carry out electoral reforms was evidence of the party’s apathy towards transparency.
According to him, the PDP won the 2019 Presidential election as well as the governorship elections in Osun and Kano States but was denied victory because of the violation of electoral rules and the militarization of polling areas.
He stated that unless the Electoral Act was amended to allow for the direct transmission of results from the polling units as observed in the Edo State gubernatorial election, last year, 2023 might be difficult to handle.
Speaking on the security situation in the country, Secondus expressed sadness that the ship of state was sailing without a captain, adding “the Commander- in- Chief is missing on duty and it’s free for all in governance in Nigeria today.”
Earlier, the Political Adviser of the EU in Nigeria, Osaro Odemwingie, revealed that the economic bloc has so far spent over €100m in supporting the country’s democracy through the INEC.
He further explained that the team came to interact with the PDP leadership to get their perspective on activities of INEC and other institutions of democracy.
|Health / Abide By Security Guidelines, El-rufai Advises Schools In Risk Areas by mxhabib2001: 2:35am On Jun 01, 2021|
SIECOM Postpones LG Poll
Following reports that some schools in Kaduna State have continued to operate outside of the guidelines presented to them by the security agencies to ensure the safety of their students and staff, the state government has warned schools operating in high-risk areas to adhere to the security advisory issued to them.
Meanwhile, the state Independent Electoral Commission (KAD-SIECOM) has postponed the conduct of the local council election in the state earlier scheduled for June 5, 2021, due to lack of adequate sensitive materials for the polls.
It could be recalled that both public and private educational institutions in the state came under attacks by bandits recently, which led to the abduction of some students from their dormitories and the killing of those whose relatives failed to pay ransom.
The state’s Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, who warned the schools to abide by security advisory in a statement, yesterday, also disclosed that banditry, attacks and reprisals claimed the lives of 10 persons in three local councils of the state.
Aruwan said security agencies had reported that armed bandits invaded Na’ikko village in Giwa local council, adding: “Community volunteers engaged the bandits and in the ensuing gun duel, three residents were killed, identified as Alhaji Shafiu, Alhaji Balailu Sano and Abdulsamad Hussaini. In a reaction, youths of Na’ikko village attacked a nearby Fulani settlement, Rugan Abdulmuminu, and killed two persons whom they alleged were involved in the initial attack. These were identified as Abdulmuminu Agwai and Samaila Agwai.”
The commissioner said that in another incident, armed bandits invaded Dakyauro village, Sabon Birni in Igabi local council and killed four persons after rustling about 25 cows. The four persons killed, according to him, were Musbahu Yusuf Basiru Jaafaru, Ja’afaru Yahaya and Umaru Sulaiman. He also said two persons, identified as Anas Ibrahim and Aisha Abbas, were injured in the attack.
Aruwan also disclosed that a community leader, Dauda Adamu, was killed by bandits at Ungwan Ayaba in Chikun Council, adding: “Armed bandits also invaded farmlands on the outskirts of Gigani village, Kerawa, Igabi local council and rustled about 14 bulls being used by farmers to plough the land.”
He said Governor Nasir El-Rufai, after receiving reports of the incidents, prayed for the repose of the souls of the deceased, sent condolences to their families and wished those injured a speedy recovery.
He added: “The governor noted with deep concern the incidents in Na’ikko village in Giwa LGA and appealed to residents to embrace recourse to law. He implored them to avoid killings and reprisal actions that would prove utterly detrimental to peace in the area, as government was working closely with security agencies and stakeholders.
“Going further, governor El-Rufai assured farmers in the Giwa, Igabi, Birnin Gwari, Kajuru and Chikun LGAs of government’s awareness of their plight, and is taking active steps towards ensuring that they would continue to pursue their livelihoods in safety.
“The governor also addressed reports received on brewing tension in Bomo community, Sabon Gari LGA, between residents and the Nigerian Army. The governor appealed to members of the community to be calm, as the matter had been reported and steps were being taken in conjunction with His Royal Highness, the Emir of Zazzau, to address the situation.
“Finally, the Kaduna State Government has urged private schools operating in high-risk areas to adhere to the security advisories issued to them. This followed reports that some schools have continued to operate outside of the guidelines presented to them by the security agencies for the safety of their students and staff.
“The governor is also monitoring developments in Kauru, Jema’a and Zangon Kataf LGAs, and working assiduously to enhance security and peace in the identified flash-points in these LGAs,” Aruwan said.
Acting Chairman of the KAD-SIEC, Ibrahim Sambo, said the state was still awaiting the delivery of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) by the manufacturers in China, hence the postponement of the election.
|Health / Africa’s Covid-19 Corruption That Outweighs Pandemic by mxhabib2001: 3:08am On May 28, 2021|
Even as the pandemic continues to ravage the world, some countries have reported continued theft of Covid-19 response funds.
In Africa, a number of countries have reported rampant corruption and theft of cash and other incentives meant to caution against the impacts of the disease.
Below are countries that have reported cases of corruption on Covid-19 funds.
Malawi police arrested 64 people in April in connection with the misuse of Covid funds.
An audit report ordered by President Lazarus Chakwera revealed that government officers and the private sector had misspent about $1.3 million of the funds through procurement and allowance irregularities.
President Chakwera had initially warned he will crack the whip on looters linked to the theft of Covid-19 funds. He later sacked the labor minister in connection to the mismanagement.
It is reported that the former minister borrowed about US$760 from the Covid-19 funds to use as his allowance when he accompanied Chakwera on his first official visit to South Africa in November last year.
An investigation done by a Kenyan journalist revealed in 2020 gross misconduct and abuse of funds meant for Covid-19.
T the state-run Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA), at the center of a growing scandal that has prompted strikes at ill-equipped hospitals and street protests.
KEMSA is under fire over allegations government officials and businessmen pilfered $400 million in public money earmarked for medical equipment needed in the fight against coronavirus.
Investigations are currently underway but no one is taking the blame as all fingers point into a well-orchestrated deal set up by government officials.
Preliminary reports indicate that tenders were allocated to individuals who had no history or connection to medical tenders. One witness confessed she won the tender when it accidentally happened that she was passing by the KEMSA offices.
In April 2020, Nigeria received US$3.4 billion in emergency financial assistance from the IMF to support its COVID-19 response. Two months later, Nigeria’s federal government announced a US$6 billion stimulus.
A survey by Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) found that by July 16, just 12.5 percent of the poorest quintile of respondents had received some form of food assistance since the pandemic began.
Another NGO known as CivicHive revealed through the Bureau of Public Procurement that the federal health ministry had spent $96,000) on 1,808 ordinary face masks.
Four top Ugandan government officials were arrested in 2020 after being accused of inflating Covid-19 relief food prices. It is alleged they were arrested for causing the Ugandan government to run at a loss of $528,000.
Leaked audio obtained by a local media was published in August last year where Uganda’s Ambassador to Copenhagen, Nimisha Madhvani, her deputy and other staff members coercing a plan to share funds meant for Covid-19 response.
Nothing changed in South Africa. Theft, over-pricing and potential fraud are just but a few scandals relating to the Covid-19 funds.
Public anger over suspect government contracts worth nearly $900 million for the purchase of supplies to fight COVID-19 may finally bring the South African government to take more decisive steps against corruption, say experts.
In one instance, personal protective equipment (PPE) was bought five times more than the normal price according to the auditor general.
The government had earlier allocated 350 rands per month for those who are unemployed
The country’s auditor general revealed that out of 4 million people in the database who directly benefited from the Covid funds, 30,000 of them needed to be investigated.
Some of the alleged corruption was grand and complex, involving front companies moving millions of dollars through a web of bank accounts.
Other schemes were shamelessly simple, like overcharging for blankets to be given to the poor as winter set in. One, a $670,000 order to buy motorcycles with sidecars to use as ambulances for COVID-19 patients, was just absurd.
Corruption in Africa does make people suffer, even worse than the virus. I hope that such problems can be resolved as soon as possible, so that people can end these terrible experiences as soon as possible.
|Health / Borno Discovers 21 Health Workers With Fake Certificates, 91 Ghost Staff by mxhabib2001: 2:01am On May 27, 2021|
The Borno State governor, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum, has directed disciplinary measures to be taken, after a verification committee identified 21 health workers, amongst them some nurses, operating with fake certificates.
The committee had also found 91 ghost workers in different health institutions across the state.
Chairman of the committee, Dr. Joseph Jatau, revealed this on Monday in Maiduguri, while presenting the committee's report to Governor Zulum at the governor's office annex located in Musa Usman secretariat.
Dr Jatau explained that among those with fake certificates were some nurses, and other medical and support staff.
The chairman also disclosed that 91 ghost workers were fake from the lists of some health workers in the state, who had either resigned or withdrawn from service, while salaries were being paid in their names.
He noted that over N23m was discovered as being wrongly spent on monthly basis.
The committee, Jatau further explained, found out that some dead, retired and absconded staff were being consistently promoted with salaries also paid in their names.
In the light of its findings, the committee made 13 recommendations that could help reposition the State Hospital Management Board (HMB) for optimal healthcare service delivery.
Zulum, who was happy with the discovery, expressed worry that some health workers could use fake certificates, despite the risk of handling the health issues of citizens, without prerequisite training and certification.
"Anyone that fakes certificates in nursing and other medical courses is capable of killing people. Only God knows how many people they might have harmed or even killed. Honestly, we shouldn't let this go, we should ensure appropriate actions are served to the culprits. I cannot be lenient on matters involving life and death. Importantly also, we have to employ measures to avert future occurrences," Zulum said.
this is too scary. I don't want to meet health workers with fake certificates. It is hoped that the government can take measures to tighten control.
|Health / Insecurity: 56,000 Bauchi Idps Seek Rehabilitation by mxhabib2001: 2:36am On May 25, 2021|
No fewer than 56,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from different Northern states, who are taking refuge in Bauchi State, have lamented neglect and are soliciting rehabilitation centres.
The Chairman of IDPs, Mr. Buba Musa Shehu, who led other 20 local council chairmen, yesterday, said despite intervention and support by President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) had done little or nothing for them.
He said: “We are pleading with the Federal Government, Bauchi State Government and other non-governmental organisations, most especially NEMA). The agency has not been giving us any intervention. The President is trying by giving IDPs the necessary assistance. We appreciate the North East Development Commission…”
He attributed the influx of IDPs in Bauchi to recent attack on Gaidam in Yobe State.
Buba said: “We are about 56,000 households across the 20 local councils of Bauchi. We are pleading with Bauchi State Government to give us places to stay with our families. I have been in Bauchi State since 2014, when I escaped from Boko Haram attacks in Maiduguri, Borno State. Like myself, other IDPs are living in different host communities.”
|Health / Nigeria: Taxation, Not Oil Revenue, Can Save Nigeria's Economy - El-rufai by mxhabib2001: 8:50am On May 21, 2021|
Kaduna — The Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, has said that taxation, not oil revenue, can save Nigeria's economy.
Speaking at the 23rd Annual Tax Conference organised by the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, the governor noted that a country of tax payers is more likely to perform optimally.
He said the country must begin to move away from oil as it is neither the answer nor the question that would solve the country's problem.
"The solution to our problem is better and more efficient taxation of goods and services in our economy.
The Governor said the tax net has captured only a minority of Nigeria, but there is a great opportunity to bring all data together including the National Driver's License, Bank Verification Number (BVN) and National Identity Management System (NIMS) to get a database of adult Nigerians to achieve adequate taxation.
He said that in the last one year, COVID-19 had affected economic growth, tax collection and the prosperity of Nigerians, due to rapid deterioration of oil revenue's contribution to the Federation Account.
"Indeed, I have been informed by our Commissioner of Finance that at the last FAAC meeting, it was the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Custom Service that saved Nigeria.
"And I have been informed that the FAAC taking place in Abuja this week, as we speak, NNPC is likely to come with zero allocation. So, we have gotten to a point in this country whether we like it or not, due to continuous subsidy of petroleum products, most of which leak to the neighbouring countries, NNPC is unable to contribute anything significantly to the federation account," he said.
He recommended taxation as the solution, adding that "Nigeria's tax to GDP ratio is something in the region of 6 to 7 per cent and is one of the lowest in the world as comparator countries collect as much as 20 percent of GDP.
"Here in Kaduna State, with a GDP of about two trillion, we should be collecting N400 billion per annum as taxation, but we collect slightly above N60 billion," he said.
President of the institute, Dame Gladys Olajumoke said there was no alternative to revenue for the government other than taxation.
She noted that people are unwilling to pay taxes because they believe they are not getting their money's worth saying, "In other countries, when citizens pay tax, they have access to good health facilities, water, education, electricity and roads, but that is not the case in Nigeria."
She noted that the government must create an enabling environment so that people will be willing to pay tax.
|Business / Nigeria Is Quietly Rewriting Fintech’s Rulebook by mxhabib2001: 2:30am On May 20, 2021|
It all started with a tweet on New Year’s Day, 2016. Joshua Chibueze, a computer scientist and entrepreneur based in Lagos, Nigeria, floated the idea of digitising the kolo, a wooden box similar to a piggy bank, used in many Nigerian homes to save money.
Chibueze had heard that, with enough persistence, people could set aside significant sums, but when he started using a kolo himself he realised how easy it was for upwardly mobile young Nigerians like him to forget – or simply lack the discipline – to save every single day. Worse: as Nigeria’s economy was getting increasingly cashless, an old box did not sound like an effective saving device – and was a security liability.
Hence the idea of a digital kolo. Odunayo Eweniyi, a fellow entrepreneur (and Twitter friend of Chibueze’s), was the first to reply to his tweet on the subject. “The conversation progressed from digitising to automating the kolo,” Eweniyi recalls. The pair teamed up and – alongside a third co-founder, Somto Ifezue – built an online savings platform to help medium-to-low-earning Nigerians save small amounts daily, weekly, monthly, or annually. Launched as PiggyBank.ng in February 2016, today it is known as PiggyVest.
Marketing solely on social media for the first couple of years, PiggyVest was able to help Nigerians sign up easily using their smartphones, automate savings and earn interest, with rates between six and ten per cent. By the end of 2018, PiggyVest had helped over 53,000 users save close to a billion Nigerian naira (£2,000,000).
In 2015, two per cent of Nigerians controlled 90 per cent of banks’ total deposits, according to the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, a government-backed financial agency. One year later, Nigerian financial inclusion advocacy group EFInA found that only 36.9 million adult Nigerians – out of a population of over 195 million – had access to a bank account. Nigeria was grappling with a huge unbanked population and PiggyVest set to cater to this demographic blending technology and traditional saving methods.
“The thing about the unbanked is that they’re actually banked, they’re just not formally banked,” says Eweniyi. “Banking is necessary to them but the banks themselves haven’t proven to be.” She believes that Nigeria’s financial exclusion problem will be solved by working with people rather than offering top-down solutions.
That is why Piggy`vest has decided to borrow well-tested models from Africa’s financial history: after its debut as a digital kolo, in May 2018 the company launched a new feature – called Smart Target – modelled after the traditional saving practice of ajo. First recorded in the 19th century, but rumoured to have been around for longer among the Yoruba ethnic group, an ajo consists of a group of colleagues, friends, or religious peers, each contributing the same amount of money at an agreed frequency to hit a financial target. At the end of each savings cycle – typically, a month – one member of the group receives the entire saving pot; the ajo goes on until everyone has received their payout.
“My mum belonged to at least four ajo groups, one of which was at the university where she was a lecturer,” says Eweniyi, whose parents were both academics. “My parents relied on ajo to pay their way through our education and this is how most middle-class families I know survived.”
PiggyVest’s take on ajo, however, tweaks the tradition to fit the times: Smart Target lets people save towards a common goal together as an online community, but unlike ajo, users are in control of how much they contribute and where the payout goes.
PiggyVest is just one of a new breed of Nigerian fintech companies. “Companies like PiggyVest have moved to push savings and budgeting consciousness, by gamifying the process and including a reward system for users who follow through,” says Modupe Odele, a lawyer and startup consultant based in Washington, DC. She predicts that in the near future, Nigeria’s fintech industry will start broadening its scope.
“We have payments, we have savings and these are great, but there's still a lot of financial technology that is ripe for exploration,” Odele says.
|Events / Stop Waiting For FG, Convene National Unity Summit To Save Nigeria by mxhabib2001: 2:50am On May 18, 2021|
Former Vice President Abubakar Atiku last night called on Nigerian Governors to stop waiting on the federal government to make changes that may not happen anytime soon to solve the myriad of problems bedevilling the country.
Instead, Atiku asked leaders to convene a National Unity Summit of all Nigerian Governors to iron out the thorny issues affecting the destiny of the nation and figure out a way to resolve them.
Atiku made the call in a personal post titled “Nigeria Is Drifting: We Must Stop Waiting For Godot”, made on his Facebook page.
Atiku who gave a definition of who a true Nigerian is said that the people, irrespective of their tribe and religion must be committed to the indivisibility of the country.
They called on the men of goodwill among whom were the Governors to jettison their party sentiments and work for the unity and progress of the country.
Atiku who was the vice president of Nigeria between 1999 and 2007 and the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the 2019 general elections expressed optimism in the triumph of Nigerians over the multifaceted challenges facing the country.
The post read thus in full: “The major challenge facing Nigeria today is that we are drifting. We are not just drifting politically and economically. We are also drifting apart from each other.
I have often said that the difference between us is not North and South, but between good and bad. Therefore, those who are good should come together to show those who are bad that we are in the overwhelming majority.
I have repeatedly said that I am a Nigerian. Full stop. That is my identity. And now more than ever, we must ask ourselves this question: what does it mean to be a Nigerian?
A Nigerian is one who is committed to the idea of the indivisibility of Nigeria and who is invested in respecting, even if you disagree with, the differences that exist within this nation space, and respecting the right of others to coexist with you irrespective of religious, regional or ethnic differences.
That is what being a Nigerian means to me. And that is why I believe that all those who believe in Nigeria should stand up to be counted. “It is not Nigerian to terrorise your fellow citizens. Up until about a decade ago, we did not have this. It is not Nigerian to abduct people. And this is undoubtedly a new menace that has low historical precedence in Nigeria.
The truth is that if at a National level, we address these in Nigerian tendencies immediately and dispassionately, we would not have Nigerians congregating at a regional or sub-regional level to address these issues.
“What our present challenges, therefore, call for is not fragmentation but concentration. We must concentrate and focus our national willpower and resolve towards fighting these Nigerian tendencies.
Governors representing some states have met. And I completely understand the necessity of their meeting and the wisdom of their decisions. But no matter how much you try to clap with one hand, the vibrations will not be the same as when you clap with two hands.
We have a national challenge. And as Albert Einstein said, We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
These problems were created by those with a regional mindset, and will not be solved by those with a similar mindset.
For too long, we have erroneously thought that the power to make effective changes lies at Aso Rock. But without the states, nobody can get to Aso Rock. That is why for anyone to emerge as President of Nigeria, he or she must secure enough votes in two-thirds of the states that make up the Nigerian federation.
Let us apply this wisdom to our present challenges. I call on Nigerian Governors to stop waiting on Abuja to make changes and instead convene a National Unity Summit of all Nigerian Governors to iron out the thorny issues affecting the destiny of our nation until they figure out a way to resolve them.
Forget about your party. Forget about your tribe. Respect your religion and allow it to bring out the better part of you. Meet together. Talk together. Come up with the solutions to all our collective challenges.
And then go back to your states, and consult with your federal and state legislators, with a view to getting them to work with their colleagues to implement the solutions you came up with.
That is how to save Nigeria.
|Travel / Nigeria Bans Travellers From India, Brazil, Turkey Over COVID-19 Fears by mxhabib2001: 3:18am On May 16, 2021|
Nigeria will ban travellers coming from India, Brazil and Turkey because of concerns about the rampant spread of coronavirus in those countries, a presidential committee said on Sunday.
"Non-Nigerian passport holders and non-residents who visited Brazil, India or Turkey within Fourteen (14) days preceding travel to Nigeria, shall be denied entry into Nigeria," Boss Mustapha, chairman of the presidential steering committee on COVID-19, said in a statement.
The ban will take effect from May 4, the statement said.
Nigeria announced 43 confirmed new coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing its total to 165,153, with 2,063 deaths.
Indian hospitals, morgues and crematoriums have been overwhelmed as the country has reported more than 300,000 daily cases for more than 10 days straight. Many families have been left on their own to find medicines and oxygen.
In Brazil, new coronavirus cases have fallen off a late-March peak, but remain high by historical standards. Total deaths in the country are second only to the United States.
Turkey imposed a nationwide "full lockdown" on Thursday, lasting until May 17, to curb a surge in coronavirus infections and deaths, with the world's fourth highest number of cases and the worst on a per-capita basis among major nations.
|Health / Covid-19: Falana Urges African Leaders To Invest More In Public Health by mxhabib2001: 3:04am On May 13, 2021|
A senior lawyer and rights activist, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, has urged African leaders to increase investment in the area of public health so as to better tackle current and future health challenges in the continent.
He made the call on Monday in Owerri, Imo State, while delivering a paper on lessons learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Falana who noted that “no one is safe until everyone is safe” lamented that rich countries of the world are hoarding vaccines to the detriment of poor countries, hence African leaders should begin to take the issue of health services more seriously.
“But the approach to a global public health emergency is not only selfish, it is also scientifically myopic. As long as the virus exists in any country, it could spread to other countries”, he said.
Speaking on some of the lessons learnt from the pandemic, the senior lawyer said that public healthcare system cannot be developed by applying the logic of market forces.
“Public health services should be treated as social goods because a pandemic is a challenge to the common good. The implication is that government should invest more in public health.
“Nigeria, for instance, devotes less than 5% of its budget to healthcare. Little surprise that the response of Nigeria to the pandemic has been extremely weakened by the manifestation of poverty in the healthcare system”.
While observing that most of the states were yet to comply with the law on universal healthcare coverage, he stated that health insurance still remains essentially an idea whose time is yet to come in Nigeria
|Health / NASS Bill Sidelines NCDC As Health Ministry Reject Bill by mxhabib2001: 2:47am On May 11, 2021|
The Minister of Health, Dr Osage Ehanire and other stakeholders rejected a provision made in the Bill co-sponsored by the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Primary Healthcare and Communicable Diseases and Health Institutions, in Abuja.
According to the minister and others, the piece of legislation duplicates key functions of the National Centre for Diseases Control, NCDC, and this to them, is a waste of efforts.
The Minister in his submission at a public hearing on the Bill, picked holes in part 6 and other sections of the Bill.
The Ministry also picked loopholes in several other sections duplicating the already statutory functions of the NCDC.
While reacting on the Bill, YIAGA Africa and other stakeholders partnering with the National Assembly, to strengthen Nigeria’s response system to diseases outbreaks, however, said the legislative instrument, will strengthen efforts of already existing structures on communicable diseases.
According to Dr. Ernest Ereke, Coordinator, Yiaga Africa Center for Legislative Engagement, in his response to the Bill, expressed satisfaction with the extent of participation by stakeholders and the possibility of a stronger legislation to battle disease outbreaks in the country.
“We had a lot of stakeholder engagements with the lawmakers, and our stand on the Bill, is that it must not derogate from citizens’ rights.
“We also believe that the quarantine Act, is anachronistic and should be re-enacted to effective legislation to react to the outbreaks in the future.
Entitled, “A Bill for an Act to Provide for an effective National Framework for the control of outbreaks of Infectious Diseases endangering Public Health during periods of Public Health emergencies and for related matters”, the piece of legislation, is contentious in a number of sections.
Part of the Bill, invests in a new agency, in part 6, ”powers of the Centre or authorized officer in dealing with outbreaks and suspected outbreaks of infectious diseases, powers of investigation, disposal of document, substance of matter, Power of Arrest, Law Enforcement or authorizes Officer May Demand names and addresses in certain cases.
“Disclosure of user information by Director-General to prevent spread or possible outbreak of declared infectious diseases, etc, disclosure of user information by Centre tp specified recipient and Security assistance”.
Chairmen of the committees, Senator Chukwuka Utazi(PDP-Enugu) and Rep. Tanko Sununu(APC-Kebbi) who anchored the hearing of the Bill, said they organized the occasion, to enrich the Bill, and come out with a stronger framework for better response to Diseases outbreaks in the country.
Utazi in his speech said the Bill came about, from both chambers, because of the “challenges that confronted the nation, regarding the coordination of national response measures to combat the dreaded coronavirus crisis, as a result of extant archaic quarantine legislation”.
|Health / FG Bans Flights From India, Seychelles Cases Soar Despite 60% Vaccination by mxhabib2001: 8:32am On May 08, 2021|
The Covid-19 infection rate is still down across the country as only 222 test results came back positive between May 4 and April 28. With warnings about a possible third wave which could prove as devastating as the Indian situation, it seems no amount of caution can be too much.
The latest wave of the pandemic seems to be hitting third-world countries. And as is witnessed in countries like Seychelles, it seems even the high rate of vaccination isn’t enough to check the spread of the new wave. Without further ado, let’s explore stories that developed during the week.
Nigeria bans travelers from India and other high-risk countries
Following strong warnings by medical experts in previous weeks about the influx of passengers from India where the Covid-19 pandemic is currently on a rampage, the Federal Government has placed a ban on flights from the Asian country.
This was announced by the presidential committee on Covid-19 on Sunday. Apart from India, flights to and from Brazil and Turkey will also no longer operate over the next few weeks. India is currently battling a third wave which reports show is deadlier than the previous waves.
Also Read: Kenyan Insurance Tech, Lami Raises $1.8M Seed Funding to Expand its Solution Across Africa
Beginning from May 4, non-Nigerian passport holders and non-residents who visit Brazil, India or Turkey within Fourteen (14) days before their travel to Nigeria will be denied entry into the country.
Lagos State enforces stricter protocols
The Lagos State commissioner for health has announced stricter Covid-19 measures for the state. This is as Lagosians have continued to neglect safety protocols especially in public places like motor parks, public transports, public gatherings etc.
The protocol updates have been deemed necessary as other countries battle yet another wave of the pandemic. Recent reports about Seychelles show that the country has closed down its schools and enforced stricter measures despite having vaccinated a larger proportion of its population. This shows that
African children at risk of Measles and other diseases
60 mass immunisation campaigns are currently on hold in 50 countries around the world. This postponement is largely due to the restrictions that are put in place to fight the Covid-19.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 25 of these 50 countries are in Africa. This means that more children in Africa are at risk than in other continents.
The immunisation programs are for diseases such as yellow fever, measles and polio. To reduce the risks of more deadly diseases breaking out alongside the Covid-19 pandemic, countries have to put more effort into ensuring that routine immunisation is prioritized for children. This has to be done without exposing them to viruses and other infections.
Seychelles goes into lockdown despite mass vaccination
East Africa’s Seychelles has reintroduced massive restrictions on its citizens to flatten the covid-19 curve in the country. The country has fully vaccinated about 60% of its population and is currently the most vaccinated country. This has, however, not checked the spread of the virus.
The number of daily infected persons have been on the rise recently even though the country began vaccinating its people in January. Health Minister, Peggy Vidot, said on Tuesday, “Despite all the exceptional efforts we are making, the Covid-19 situation in our country is critical right now with many daily cases reported last week.”
As part of the new measures, schools have been ordered to stay shut for 3 weeks while bars, restaurants and businesses are to close earlier than usual. Commemoration gatherings, shows, group sporting activities and conferences have been banned while non-essential workers are encouraged to work from home.
India’s covid-19 situation worsens
The country known as the world’s pharmacy, India, is now fighting a tough battle against a second wave of the covid-19. The number of infections dropped from around 90,000 to 20,000 in September 2020 and the country heaved a sigh of relief. Kumbh Mela, one of the country’s festivals was even allowed to hold in mid-April where citizens went unmasked.
However, the recent surge in cases shows that the relief was a temporal one. Different reports show a shortage in the supply of oxygen amidst a rising death toll. A BBC video shows people waiting in line to have their loved ones cremated.
Current efforts to stop the surge include health insurance, subsidized medicines for the poor, ramped up production of vaccines and clinical oxygen. However, the efforts will take time to catch up with the surge and many nations, including Nigeria, Iran, US, UK, Kuwait, Israel and Singapore have been forced to protect their own citizens first by banning flights to and from India.
|Health / Re: US Birth Rate Lowest Since 1979 As Pandemic-led Stress Rises by mxhabib2001: 2:47am On May 07, 2021|
The lower birth rate is not a particularly important issue, as long as it is within an acceptable range. After all, what is more important than good health now?
|Health / US Birth Rate Lowest Since 1979 As Pandemic-led Stress Rises by mxhabib2001: 2:41am On May 07, 2021|
Americans had the lowest number of babies in more than four decades last year, mirroring a slump in European birth rates, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced more people to take care of sick family members or deal with job losses.
Birth rate in the United States fell 4% in 2020 to about 3.6 million babies, its sixth straight annual decline and the lowest since 1979, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC did not attribute the overall decline to the pandemic, but experts have predicted that pandemic-led reasons including anxiety will hit the country's birth rate.
"The recent decline in birth rates reflects both a longer-term downward trend in birth rates that was apparent prior to the pandemic and pandemic-related reduction," Lorna Thorpe, director of epidemiology at the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone, said.
In general, U.S. fertility rates have dropped over the years as women marry late and delay motherhood especially in years when the economy has slowed.
Older data from Population Reference Bureau, a nonprofit statistics collector, showed the U.S. birth rate reached an all-time low in 1936 following the 1929 stock market crash.
It once again took a hit through the 1970s in the wake of big social changes including the landmark Roe v. Wade legal case on abortion.
Many European countries have also seen a decline in births, and demographics experts have forecast a baby bust across the continent this year.
In Italy, nine months after the country went into Europe's first lockdown. births plunged 22% in December. Blaming lower birth rates, big corporations including Reckitt (RKT.L), Nestle (NESN.S) and Danone (DANO.PA) have posted a drop in sales of baby formula.
The CDC said fertility rate in the United States, which measures the number of births per 1,000 women aged between 15 and 44, declined by 4% in 2020.
|Health / COVID-19: EU Releases Last Tranche Of $14.5m To Assist Nigeria Rollout Vaccine by mxhabib2001: 2:48am On May 06, 2021|
The European Union has said $14. 5 million out of the €50 million promised to the Federal Government to assist in the roll out of COVID-19 vaccine would be released this week.
The Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria, Ambassador Ketil Karsel, who addressed newsmen yesterday in Abuja, revealed that already €9 million grant had been released to boost the prevention and response to Coronavirus in Nigeria.
“The EU is taking the lead in supporting partner countries, including Nigeria, to tackle the tackle the COVID-19 pandemic by combining resources from the EU, its member states and European financial institutions, under the ‘Team Europe’ initiative.
“At the onset of the pandemic in Nigeria, the EU rapidly mobilised €50 million grant in humanitarian aid was given to Nigeria to boost prevention and response to Coronavirus in the country.
“The EU in Nigeria has availed the remaining 14 million USD unspent from the basket fund to support the rollout of vaccine in Nigeria,” he said.
He added that, “Team Europe is working to ensure global, equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and supporting the rollout of vaccine campaigns, while exploring possibilities for possibilities for boosting local manufacturing capacity.
“The EU played a leading role in setting up the COCAX Facility, the global initiative that allows for high income countries to fund vaccines for low and middle-income countries, with Team Europe as a leading donor, with over €2.2 billion. The contribution from Team Europe will Europe will help secure 1.3 billion doses of the vaccine for 92 low- income and middle income countries by the end of the year.’
On the party of insecurity, he said: “the EU is working with the Nigerian authorities to bring an end to the security challenges across the country.
“We are supporting government’s efforts to fight terrorism, radicalisation and violent extremism as well as the reform of the criminal justice system.”
|Health / COVID-19 Vaccination Mandatory For Hajj Pilgrims by mxhabib2001: 8:23am On Apr 30, 2021|
Nigerian pilgrims participating in this year’s Hajj have been mandated to get Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) vaccine passports, as one of the conditions for entry into Saudi Arabia.
Saudi’s Ministry of Health now requires all external pilgrims wishing to perform Hajj to take two doses of the World Health Organisation (WHO)-approved vaccine for COVID-19.
According to an official memo sighted by The Guardian yesterday, the intending pilgrim is required to receive the second jab at least one week before getting into the kingdom.
Similarly, the pilgrim will also need to obtain a certified and negative test of the COVID-19 PCR test, 72 hours before arrival in the kingdom.
The ministry will also require all pilgrims to be subjected to 72 hours of Mandatory Quarantine, which will only end after a negative PCR test.
“The ministry was also directed to exclude the most vulnerable groups from pilgrimage and limiting age groups to only 18 to 60 years old,” the letter added.
|Agriculture / Nigeria’s Grain Supplies To Decrease by mxhabib2001: 4:13am On Apr 29, 2021|
LAGOS, NIGERIA — Nigeria is expected in 2021 to see decreases in grain supplies because of conflict and economic factors made worse by secondary effects of COVID-19, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Corn production in the 2021-22 marketing year is estimated at 11.1 million tonnes, a 4% decrease from a year earlier. The decline is attributed to insecurity in the Nigerian corn belt.
“Currently, major areas of the corn belt are experiencing intense conflict conditions, which are major threats to agriculture,” the USDA said. “Currently, farming communities are under intense fear. Many farmers are not going to farms because of fear of kidnapping for ransom.”
Harvested area is forecast at 6 million hectares, an 8% drop from the 2020-21 marketing year. Yield per hectare is estimated to increase slightly to 1.8 tonnes per hectare from 1.77 tonnes per hectare, the USDA said.
Consumption is projected at 12.1 million tonnes, a 2.5% increase from the USDA’s estimate of 11.8 million tonnes in 2020-21.
Another year of low wheat production is expected, the USDA said, with an estimated total of 55,000 tonnes. Area harvested is expected to decrease by 5,000 hectares to 55,000 hectares.
Nigeria is struggling to meet rising wheat demand, with consumption forecast at 4.9 million tonnes, 10% higher than a year ago, the USDA said.
“Wheat consumption is expected to grow, but the recent foreign exchange restriction is impeding growing domestic demand,” the USDA said.
|Health / Why Emirates Airline Is Yet To Resume International Flights To Lagos, Abuja by mxhabib2001: 2:14am On Apr 28, 2021|
Some reports have suggested the reason why Emirates Airlines has not gotten approval to resume flight operations to Abuja and Lagos.
According to a report from Thisday, the alleged insistence by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that only Emirates Airlines would be allowed to operate to Dubai from Nigeria has prompted the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, to deny the Middle East airline the approval to resume flights to Abuja and Lagos.
The report says that Sirika may not allow Emirates to resume flight operations to Nigeria until the UAE carrier drops the condition that it should be the only carrier operating from Nigeria. Emirates condition would mean that Air Peace and other carriers such as Ethiopia Airlines, Egypt Air and RwandAir would stop airlifting passengers to Dubai from Nigeria.
According to the report, the Regional Terminal Manager, South West, in charge of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Mrs Victoria Shin-Aba, confirmed that Emirates was yet to resume flights in Nigeria.
She said that until the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19 provides the infrastructure that would be needed for the rapid test, Emirates Airlines would not resume operations in Nigeria.
She also disclosed that other international airlines have started flight operations and things have normalized, although the passenger traffic has not increased.
Travel agency operators have expressed their full support of the decision of the Federal Government not to allow only Emirates Airline to operate from Nigeria to Dubai as the travel agents would not make money and the airfares would be outrageously high if the airline was allowed to enjoy such monopoly.
This would also shut the door against Nigeria’s indigenous carrier, Air Peace that operates to Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.
What you should know
It can be recalled that the Federal Government had directed the immediate suspension of outbound flights of Emirates Airlines for 72 hours with effect from February 4, until when the needed infrastructure and logistics were put in place for the Rapid Antigen Test (RDT) test by the Nigerian Government.
This follows accusations against the airline, that it was airlifting passengers from Nigeria using RDT done in laboratories that were not approved by regulatory authorities.
Emirates had insisted that it must conduct Rapid Antigens Test (RDT) for Nigerian passengers travelling to Dubai four hours before they board their flights and in addition to the accepted PCR test made compulsory by the federal government.
|Health / Some States Have Resumed The Use Of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine by mxhabib2001: 3:04am On Apr 27, 2021|
With the consent of experts, some states have resumed the use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine
With the approval of federal authorities, several states resumed the one-time use of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday.
After U.S. health officials said on Friday night that they were suspending the use of Johnson & Johnson vaccination for 11 days, the states moved quickly. During the suspension, the scientific adviser believed that the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the rare risk of causing blood clots.
The problem of blood clotting caused by the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is still unresolved. This will cause people to panic and lead to distrust of vaccines.
|Health / Covid Vaccine Appears To Be Safe During Pregnancy, Large CDC Report Shows by mxhabib2001: 2:43am On Apr 25, 2021|
One of the largest reports on Covid-19 vaccination in pregnancy bolsters evidence that it is safe although the authors say more comprehensive research is needed.
The preliminary results are based on reports from over 35,000 U.S. women who received either the Moderna or Pfizer shots while pregnant. Their rates of miscarriage, premature births and other complications were comparable to those observed in published reports on pregnant women before the pandemic.
The new evidence from researchers at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
None of the women involved received Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine, which became available after the study, and is now in limbo as U.S. authorities examine reports of blood clots in a handful of women.
Separately, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine on Tuesday endorsed vaccination in pregnancy, based on evidence it has been evaluating for over a year.
I think pregnant women should pay more attention. The research on the vaccine itself has no effect on pregnant women, but in order to avoid harm to pregnant women, we should be cautious.
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