Iranian President Hassan Rowhani on Wednesday banned people from holding ceremonies to celebrate weddings and funerals as the number of coronavirus cases in the country continues to rise steeply.
`Both are banned until further notice,” Rowhani told a cabinet meeting, and said that the requirement for people to wear face masks in public places should remain in place.
“That’s the only way we can start into autumn feeling relaxed,” Rowhani was cited as saying by Isna News Agency.
Thousands of Iranians have been infected with the virus while attending wedding and funeral ceremonies where protective health regulations were not observed, according to the Health Ministry.
Alongside travelling by public transport, such ceremonies are the places where people are most likely to become infected, the ministry said.
Iran recorded a surge in cases this week, with 350 deaths due to the virus reported during the last 48 hours.
More than 5,200 people were infected with the coronavirus in the same period.
In total, more than 12,000 people in the country have died of the virus, and more than 250,000 have been infected, the ministry said on Wednesday, according to a report by the IRNA News Agency.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Peter Dada (NAN)
We’re working to ensure Nigerians have access to COVID-19 vaccines when available – NCDC
Ihekweazu said that the centre was working with the global community to ensure this access.
He informed that data on research and development of a vaccine against COVID-19 by the global scientific community showed that results on a possible vaccine were expected in the fourth quarter of 2020.
The DG, while noting that a vaccine was the best weapon in taming the virus, however, stressed that equitable access was key.
He added that the health agency was working together with other colleagues around the continent, through the Africa CDC, to start advocating for some of the trials to be done with African institutions in the short term.
“To do this, we have to build capacity, gather sufficient data and include African institutions in these efforts.
“We have to start preparing Nigerian population for vaccine delivery when it becomes available.
“Access is a very key issue when it comes to vaccines; that a vaccine is developed do not necessarily translate to being available to those that need it the most.
“So, through the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is working with GAVI to ensure that vaccines are available to countries regardless of their ability to pay.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that GAVI is an international organisation – a global Vaccine Alliance, bringing together public and private sectors with the shared goal of creating equal access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries.
He also said that it was important to involve the private sector and academia in vaccination manufacturing.
Ihekweazu hinted that the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) would lead the distribution and planning.
The DG pointed out that campaign to enlighten Nigerians on the benefit of the vaccine was important.
This, according to him, is because a small part of the population resisted vaccines for different reasons.
“So, the time to start the risk communication about the benefits of the vaccine is now.
“As soon as a vaccine becomes available, it’s our collective responsibility to prepare Nigerians for the implementation of the vaccination campaign for whatever form they take.
“So, it’s important that we start thinking about this,’’ the DG said.
Ihekweazu stressed that a vaccine was the biggest weapon to get the virus under control and by far the most important medical tool known in history.
“Vaccine development normally takes 10-20 years, but we’ve made incredible development in the last six months,’’ he said.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
School feeding programme gulps over N500m during Lockdown – Minister
The Federal Government expended about N523.3 million on school feeding programme during the lockdown against the coronavirus pandemic.
Farouk made the revelation against the rumours and speculations going around one of our key interventions of the government – the Home Grown School Feeding Programme.
She said that the programmed was modified and implemented in three states following a March 29th, Presidential directive.
“It is critical at this juncture to provide details that will help puncture the tissue of lies being peddled in the public space.
“The provision of ‘Take Home Rations’, under the modified Home Grown School Feeding programme, was not a sole initiative of the MHADMSD.
“The ministry, in obeying the Presidential directive, went into consultations with state governments through the state Governor’s Forum, following which it was resolved that ‘take-home rations’, remained the most viable option for feeding children during the lockdown.
“So, it was a joint resolution of the ministry and the state governments to give out take-home rations.
“The stakeholders also resolved that we would start with the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states, as pilot cases,’’ the minister said.
According to her, each takes home ration was valued at N4,200 and that the figure was arrived at with proper consultation.
“So, each household is assumed to have three children.
“Based on the original design of the Home Grown School Feeding programme, long before it was domiciled in the ministry, every child on the programme receives a meal a day.
“The meal costs N70 per child.
“When you take 20 school days per month, it means a child eats food worth N1,400 per month.
“Three children would then eat food worth N4,200 per month and that was how we arrived at the cost of the ‘take-home ration’.
“The agreement was that the federal government will provide the funding while the states will implement.
“To ensure transparency in the process, we partnered with the World Food Programme (WFP) as technical partners.’’
“TrackaNG monitored and gave daily updates validating the programme.
“In the FCT, 29,609 households were impacted, 37,589 households in Lagos and 60,391 in Ogun, making a total of 124,589 households impacted between May 14, and July 6.
“If 124,589 households received take-home rations valued at N4,200, the amount will be N523,273,800.
Edited By: Bola Akingbehin/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Nigerian Breweries earns N152bn revenue in 6 months
Nigerian Breweries Plc says it earned a revenue of N152 billion for the half-year (H1) ended June 30, 2020.
Mrs Sade Morgan, Corporate Affairs Director said this in a financial report on the company’s unaudited and provisional results sent to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on Monday in Lagos.
A breakdown of the results showed that the revenue of N152 billion was a drop, compared to the N170 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2019.
According to the report, the Company also made a N5.70 billion Profit after tax in the period under review.
“The half-year results for the 2020 financial year show a strong balance sheet for the Company despite several factors that negatively impacted on the Company’s operations, such as an increase in Excise Duty, a rise in inflation, an increase in VAT from 5 to 7.5 per cent, as well as the impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic on businesses worldwide.
“Despite these challenges, the Company’s financial position shows stability and sustained profitability.
“To support the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, the Company, during the period under review, made various donations in cash and kind valued at about N531 million out of a phased commitment of N600 million to the Federal and State Governments’ Covid-19 Relief Funds,” the statement said.
The Board of Directors commended the company’s management for its efforts to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the business.
It also lauded the prudent management of its resources as reflected in a seven per cent reduction in expenses incurred on marketing, distribution, and administration.
“The Board expressed confidence that the Company is well-positioned to continue to deliver return on investment to Shareholders.
According to the Board, the Company’s priority during this period “remains ensuring the health, safety and welfare of employees, customers and partners”.
Edited By: Edith Bolokor/Oluwole Sogunle (NAN)
German government calls coronavirus protest in Berlin ‘unacceptable’
The German government chastised thousands of people, who gathered in Berlin, at the weekend to protest coronavirus restrictions, as packed crowds in the capital stoked fears of a spike in infections.
“The scenes that we had to see at the weekend are unacceptable,’’ deputy government spokeswoman, Ulrike Demmer, told reporters on Monday.
“The behaviour of many demonstrators is in no way justified and exploits the great good of the freedom to demonstrate,’’ she added.
Demmer condemned “serious violations of the hygiene rules’’ as well as hate speech, noting also that protesters prevented journalists from doing their job.
She also urged people who joined the event to consider what it means to walk side-by-side with supporters of rightist ideologies and conspiracy theories.
The government official also criticised people, for not only risking their own health, but also the health of others.
Police said up to 17,000 people took part in a march against coronavirus restrictions in the capital on Saturday, with a subsequent rally attracting a crowd of some 20,000.
Because many participants were not keeping the required distance from one another or wearing masks, police broke up the event in the early evening.
The demonstration, billed as a “Day of Freedom”, was organised by “Querdenken 711” (Lateral Thinking 711), an initiative that has staged multiple protests against coronavirus rules.
Querdenken 711 has been linked to right-wing populist groups and conspiracy theorists.
“Day of Freedom” is also the title of Leni Riefenstahl’s 1935 Nazi propaganda film.
Saturday’s mass protest prompted debate on to what extent the right to protest should be restricted during the pandemic.
“Peaceful demonstrations are of course also very important in these very trying times,’’ Demmer said.
Justice Minister, Christine Lambrecht, stressed that rules must be followed at such events in order to limit coronavirus infections and so as not to endanger others.
“I have no understanding for demonstrators who arrogantly defy this,’’ Lambrecht was quoted by the Monday edition of the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper as saying.
Armin Schuster, an expert for interior affairs in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), suggested banning mass demonstrations altogether.
Schuster said it would be appropriate “to permit such demonstrations only under far stricter constraints or not at all,’’ in comments to the Rheinische Post newspaper.
The protesters found support from the Alternative for Germany (AfD), a far-right party and the largest opposition force in parliament.
“I see no wrong behaviour,’’ AfD co-leader, Tino Chrupalla, told the ARD broadcaster, noting that people took to the streets peacefully to defend their civil rights.
“And that can only be welcomed.’’
Germany introduced sweeping restrictions in mid-March, most of which have been gradually lifted or eased since May.
Masks have since been made compulsory in shops and on public transport.
Testing is also being rolled out for holidaymakers and will in some cases be mandatory.
A spike in new cases has caused concern in recent weeks, after the number of infections reported daily stayed below 500 earlier last month, but rose to over 900 on Saturday, the day of the march and rally.
Early on Monday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control confirmed a latest daily rise of 509, bringing Germany’s total confirmed caseload so far to 210,402.
The government agency reported a total death toll of 9,148 while some 193,500 people are estimated to have recovered from the virus.
There have been some targeted lockdowns in Germany as regional outbreaks flare up.
On June 20 and 21, there were riots at a housing complex in the city of Goettingen after residents were ordered to stay in their homes for eight days.
On Monday, the Police said 36 people are facing criminal proceedings in connection with the violence.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)