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Centre confirms 39 new cases of Lassa fever in Nigeria



Centre confirms 39 new cases of Lassa fever in Nigeria

Lassa fever

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed 39 new cases of Lassa fever, recorded between Feb. 25 and March 3 in six states.

NCDC’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, made this known in a statement on Friday in Abuja.

Ihekweazu said that 1,447 suspected cases had been reported from 33 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) from January 1 to March 3.

He said that 420 of the figure were confirmed positive, 15 probable and 939 negative.

According to him, from the onset of the 2019 outbreak, there have been 93 deaths in confirmed cases. Case fatality ratio in confirmed cases is 22.1per cent.

The NCDC boss said that Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Ebonyi, Plateau, Taraba, Adamawa, Gombe, Kaduna, Kwara, Benue, Rivers, Kogi, Enugu, Imo, Delta, Oyo, Kebbi, Cross River states and FCT, had recorded at least one confirmed case in 66 Local Government Areas.

He, however, noted that in reporting week 09, no new health care worker was affected.

Ihekweazu said that 15 healthcare workers had been affected since the onset of the outbreak in seven states.

The NCDC said that 69 patients were hospitalised at designated centres for managing the illness: 34 in Irrua; 16 in Owo; two in Abakiliki; two in Bauchi, five in Plateau; seven in Taraba; one in Gombe; one in Kaduna, and one in Kebbi.

He said that 4,902 people suspected to have had contact with those infected, had been identified in 19 states.

Ihekweazu said that 1,926 of the suspected contacts were being followed up; another 2,923 had completed the mandatory 21 days of follow up, to be sure they did not show any symptoms.

He noted that four persons were lost to follow up, and 80 symptomatic contacts were identified, of which 49 tested positive.

The CEO said that multi-sectoral one health national rapid response teams, including NCDC, NFELTP, Federal Ministry of Agricultural and Federal Ministry of Environment, were deployed to Ondo, Edo, Taraba and Ebonyi.

National Lassa fever multi-partner, multi-sectoral Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) continues to coordinate the response activities at all levels.


Lagos govt. charges religious centres on ”No face mask, No entry” guideline



The Lagos State Government has charged religious centres not to compromise on the ”No face mask, No entry” guideline in order to curb the spread of coronavirus disease.

Mr Lanre Mojola, Director General, Lagos State Safety Commission (LSSC), gave the charge during a news briefing on Friday at Ikeja.

Mojola said that any worship centre that failed to observe the ”No face mask, No entry” and other guidelines would be shut.

He said that officials of the COVID-19 Compliance Taskforce would be deployed to strictly enforce all the guidelines earlier announced by Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

It would be recalled that the governor had on Thursday, June 4, announced the reopening of religious centres in Lagos, from June 19 for mosques and June 21 for churches, with an attendance of 40 per cent capacity or not more than 500 worshipers.

Reiterating the state’s recent guideline on religious gathering, the DG said that while religious centres had been directed to open in two weeks time, their worship services should be restricted to not more than once a week, as mid-week and other programmes remained suspended.

He urged that worshippers should abide by the issued safety guidelines which included: physical distancing; regular disinfection; temperature check; wearing of face mask; and having more than one service.

According to him, attendees to worship centres should be above 15 and not above 65 years of age.

Moyola encouraged that outdoor services be preferred to indoor services, and people running temperature higher than 37.5 should be restricted from entering into the venue.

Other safety measures include avoiding hand shakes; ensuring 2-metres distancing; stationary collections or electronic cash transfer for offering; effectively controlled traffic for exiting worship venues; as well as guarding against loitering around worship arena.

He said that worship centres should nominate representatives to serve as interface in liaising with the LSSC.

”We will continue to enforce the guidelines; we will continue to sensitise our citizenry so that we can collectively fight this virus,” the DG said.

Speaking on reopening of businesses in the state, Mojola urged business organisations to follow the ”Register-To-Open” policy, as it was geared toward full reopening of the economy.

He urged businesses to logon to the portal, to register, which would not take more than five minutes and obtain the Safety Compliance Certificate for the reopening of their businesses, offered by the state government free of charge.

Mojola said that business owners should report through the government’s whistleblower numbers, any official that wanted to collect money for the Safety Compliance Certificate.

According to him, over 1,000 businesses have applied for accreditation to reopen and their registrations have been processed.

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)


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COVID-19: OYSG to open 100-bed isolation centre in Saki



The Oyo State Government says it will soon open a multi-functional 100-bed COVID-19 Care Centre in Saki to strengthen its fight against the novel coronavirus disease.

The state Deputy Governor, Rauf Olaniyan, announced this while taking delivery of some hospital equipment donated to the state by the Nigerian Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) on Friday in Ibadan.

Olaniyan remarked that COVID-19 is a global pandemic that could spread faster and infesting scores of people rapidly.

“I need to particularly recognise the effort of all stakeholders who have donated to this course.

“This has added value to the support of COVID-19 screening and treatment in Oyo state.

“Today’s donation will be an addition and solely dedicated to the isolation centre in Saki.

“The state government appreciates this contribution and looks forward to further collaborations,’’ the deputy governor said.

In his remarks, Prof. Temitope Alonge, the Deputy Chairman of the state COVID-19 Task Force said that Saki isolation centre would also serve as a coronavirus research centre.

The Saki centre is going to be three-in-one: isolation, observatory and treatment.

“The reason we need to have an observatory is because it is a border town with many people coming in from other West African States, particularly Benin Republic and Burkina Faso.

“It has a 100-bed capacity to be divided into intensive care unit with 10 beds, high dependency unit with 20 beds, while the general male and female wards will have 70 beds.

“The governor has approved the fund for the place to be adequately equipped.

“We want it to be fully functional and take care of patients immediately it is opened,’’ Alonge said.

He commended CACOVID for the donation, adding that the items would help the Saki care centre to operate at its maximum capacity.

He said the donation thrilled him as CACOVID team took cognisance of the disease pattern being managed at the centre and provided appropriate equipment.

“On many occasions, people have made donations of items that are only good on paper, but in terms of usefulness, probably not as good.

“But what they have done is to provide everything from the mundane to the expensive ventilators, which are all going to be utilised for the management of this disease,’’ he said.

Dr Timothy Arowoogun, Coordinator of CACOVID in Oyo and Osun states, said the fight for survival against the coronavirus pandemic, had become a collective responsibility and not of that of the government alone.

“We all must join the fight if we must stay alive.

“This is why CACOVID, in partnership with First Bank of Nigeria Limited, as part of its contribution towards the eradication of the COVID-19 pandemic, is donating these equipment,’’ Arowoogun said.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that items donated include, personal protective equipment (PPE), biohazard bags, oxygen cylinders, oxygen concentrator, nebuliser, defibrillator, 12 Lead ECG Electrode and centrifuge among others.

Edited By: Moses Solanke/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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COVID-19: Coalition private sector donations given to isolation centres



A coalition of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Civil Society Organisations (CSO) in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), has called on the FCT Administration to invest donations by private sectors to isolation centres directly.

The coalition made the appeal in a communiqué signed by Alhaji Abubakar Yaqub and Mr Ossai Ilome, at the end of a one-day situation room meeting on Friday in Abuja,

Yaqub is the NLC Chairman, FCT chapter, while Ilome is the Secretary, Communique drafting committee of the meeting.

The communiqué recommended that Road Transport Union should demonstrate goodwill to government existing protocols by identifying and sanctioning members flouting the existing physical distancing guidelines.

It also recommended decentralised committee on monitoring of members’ compliance on exiting protocols in the six Area Councils.

“A call for state meeting to bring this decision to all members as it was discovered that the delivery of donated hygienic items/materials were not been conducted in an effective manner, and therefore, recommended testing, treating and tracing.

Further engagement with the NLC headquarters should be conducted to solicit broader media campaign for direct donations to relevant stakeholders/departments/facilities.

“Pursue the development of standard operating manual on various procedures to treatment and evacuation of COVID-19 patients.

“Unions should endeavour to pro-actively engage employers without waiting for untoward action to happen first.

National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) in collaboration with NLC headquarter would be engaged to pursue a stimulus package for the aviation industry where necessary,” the communique stated.

However, some of the stakeholders also made suggestions as captured by the communique.

For example, NUATE observed that payment of salaries; sack of employees by the employers; absence of protocol for resumption and hygiene supplies are still posing challenges.

Similarly, the NUJ observed that payment of salaries; security harassment of journalists; supply of hygiene items to media houses as well as lack of hazard allowance were the major challenges facing the sector.

Medical and Health Workers Union emphasised the lack of PPE supply; disproportionate holding centres; and non-existence of FCT owned testing centres.

“They also noted death of health workers outside isolation centres as well as hazard allowance and reduction of tax/insurance as promised is still the problems faced by health officials.

Labour Business School emphasised the apparent loss of income by businesses and called for the formulation of strategic employers’ engagement protocol to be deployed by union executives.

Joint Health Workers’ Union pointed out the absence of insurance cover for health officials and inadequate community sensitisation.

“Others are absence of hazard allowance; inadequate primary health care centres as well as lack of transportation vehicles for health officials to their workplaces,” the communique stressed.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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Buhari, Muslim faithful observe Juma’at Prayer as FCT reopens worship centres



President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday joined other Muslim faithful to observe the two raka’at Juma’at prayer following the reopening of the Aso Villa Mosque in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that only few Muslim faithful were admitted into the Mosque in line with the directive and guideline of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on public gathering.

NAN reports that the Federal Capital Territory Administration had earlier issued statement on guidelines for the reopening of places of worships in the six Area Councils.

Those in attendance, according to NAN, were not only tested but sanitised against the deadly Coronavirus disease as part of measures to keep the Presidential Villa free of the virus.

NAN further reports that the protocol of social distancing was also strictly observed in line with guidelines on public gathering, and only senior staff of the Villa were allowed to attend the prayer session.

Edited By: Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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World Environment Day: Experts harp on standard training centres for renewable energy   



Renewable energy experts have identified the dearth of standard training service centers and high cost of training as hindrances to growth in the Nigerian renewable energy industry. 

Mr Happiness Osimahon, a sales solutions engineer and Mr Dewale Adewole, an engineer and project manager at Nexgen Energy and Allied Services made this known in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria in Ibadan on Friday. 

The duo spoke on the theme of the 2020 World Environment Day: ‘Time for Nature’, geared toward the government’s commitment to the provision of essential infrastructure that supports life on earth and human development.

Osimahon said that if training centres were provided for those interested in renewable energy installations and maintenance engineers, it would boost the industry thus creating awareness on the safer energy options. 

 “The continuous use of fossil fuel generates e-waste and pollution. 

“There is a need to develop and build capacity for repairs and maintenance of solar inverter systems and other systems that encourage the use of renewable energy. 

“This is imperative to change the narrative and drive economic development across the country,” Osimahon said. 

He urged governments at all levels to encourage the use of renewable energy to power facilities through policy formulation and implementation. 

Similarly, Adewole said to enhance biodiversity conservation and safe earth, the government should focus on habitat restoration and set up protected areas. 

While species-specific action is sometimes necessary, more often than not, seeking to preserve and restore ecosystems is preferable. 

“The reason is that this helps maximise the overall benefit that healthy ecosystems can provide not only to our environment but also to our own health and wellbeing.

“Government must create and enforce policies that will help people to embrace the preservation of the earth such as reduction in mining activities that create threats to the ecosystem. 

“Also, enacting policies that will guide the activities of most oil and gas companies toward the protection of areas where their operations are being carried out is necessary,” Adewole said. 

He stressed the importance of people protecting the environment so that it could continue to serve humanity. 

He said that over 3,500 homes and businesses were being powered by the company’s customised solar and hybrid systems spurred by the need for a safe earth.

He said that deforestation, illegal felling of trees, and lack of will as well as funding to execute forest creation projects exposed the ecosystems to threats.

“These threats are capable of increasing the level of global warming, extinction of many species of organisms and imbalance in the ecosystem.

Nexgen Energy makes a clarion call to everyone on the importance of protecting our environment

“There is room to do more to protect our environment and keep it green by using energy efficient bulbs to reduce greenhouse gas emission.

“Use of green energy to manage power production, distribution and consumption at home or workplace,” he said.

Adewole urged Nigerians to conserve nature by reducing, reusing and recycling waste as well as volunteer for clean-up exercise in their communities.

He also advised people to conserve water as the less water used, the less runoff and wastewater that end up in the ocean and also people should not dispose of chemicals into waterways.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Grace Yussuf (NAN)


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Lagos govt. reopens religious centres June 19



The Lagos State Government has announced the reopening of religious centres at 40 per cent capacity, effective June 19.

Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu said that congregational worship with 40 per cent capacity would resume for Muslims on Friday, June 19, while Christians would resume on Sunday, June 21.

Sanwo-Olu announced this at State House, Marina, during a media briefing on the update of the management of Coronavirus and the second phase of the gradual easing of C0VID-19 lockdown in the state.

He said that the religious houses were only to run Sunday services for churches and Friday Jumat for Muslims, but barred from vigils and other weekly services.

”As we all know, mass gathering during COVID-19 pandemic can be of serious public health consequences. And there are documented evidence that mass gathering can increase the spread of the virus.

”That is why we will from 14 days time, precisely from the 19th of June for our Muslim worshippers, from the 21st of June, for our Christian worshipers, be allowing all of our religious bodies to open at the maximum of 40 per cent of their capacity.

”We know that these places of worship have different sizes, but even if your 40 per cent capacity is really so large, you cannot have beyond 500, and keeping that 40% maximum capacity is really, really so, so important.

”We will be encouraging people to have more than one service and to ensure that they keep their premises clean, disinfect before another round of worship can take place,” the governor said.

Sanwo-Olu also said those below 15 years of age and above 65 years old would not be allowed into places of worship, due to their vulnerability to the virus.

He also urged all religious houses to adhere strictly to safety measures like fumigating and keeping the premises clean, making sure worshipers wear face mask before entering, use of sanitiser, among others.

Sanwo-Olu said that the Lagos State Safety Commission would not only register but would be going round to check level of compliance.

According to him, the state government has the discretion to stop or restrict worship where there is no compliance.

Hotels and hospitality businesses are also free to open, while restaurants will open for take-away services only.

However, gyms, spas, cinema, event centers, night clubs and all other such services remain closed and inter-state journeys remain banned.

Sanwo-Olu said primary and secondary schools would remain shut because the government was still consulting with all stakeholders in the sector.

He added that the government would come up with guidelines for their re-opening in two weeks time, and that the on-line classes for tertiary institutions continued.

Sanwo-Olu said that from Monday, June 8, civil servants on levels 13-14 would resume with their senior colleagues on level 15 and above, while levels 1-12 were still to work from home.

All other guidelines are as announced by Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Monday, June 1 and they include: curfew from 10p.m.-4a.m., full re-opening of banks and other financial institutions, offices and business places to operate from 7a.m.-6p.m.

He added that manufacturing companies were permitted to do night shift but to make arrangement for movement of staff.

The governor admonished residents to wear face mask always as the level of compliance on wearing of face mask was not encouraging.

He urged Lagosians to self-regulate or government would regulate them.

Edited By: Tayo Ikujuni/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)


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COVID-19: patient absconds from Jos isolation centre – WHO



A male COVID-19 patient has absconded from a Plateau isolation centre, the Coordinator, World Health Organisation (WHO), Mr Williams Bassi, has said.

Bassi made the disclosure during a courtesy visit to the palace of the Gbong Gwom Jos, Jacob Buba, on Thursday.

News Agency of Nigeria reports that the officials of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), WHO and the state Ministry of Information, had paid a courtesy visit to the royal father to begin the campaign on COVID-19 in Jos North.

The WHO coordinator, however, stated that efforts were on to trace the fleeing patient and return him to the centre to complete his treatment.

He said that the challenge being experienced in the state was that people who had tested positive refused to leave their homes to receive treatment at the isolation centres.

We have one COVID-19 patient that has absconded from the centre, but I assure you we are on his trail and we will trace him and bring him back to continue with treatment.

“The major problem we have is that so many people have tested positive but have refused to go to the isolation centre, an example is the Duala Area in Jos North.

“They keep refusing to go to the isolation centres until some demands are met, and this is not good for us all.

Bassi noted that early identification, isolation and treatment were the best way to stop the spread of the disease.

Earlier, the Director, NOA, Mr Bulus Dabit, said that Jos North was the epicentre of the disease in Plateau state accounting for 76 out of 109 positive cases in the state as of June 3.

Dabit said the high number could be because most people in the community did not believe that COVID-19 was real, hence, the non compliance to social distancing and observance of personal hygiene.

He said the high number of cases in the area was what prompted the motorised campaign to educate the people on the dreaded disease.

The director appealed to the traditional ruler to use his position to impress the message of social/physical distancing, personal hygiene and other safety measures on his subjects as non compliance was higher in rural communities.

The Gbong Gwom Jos stated that he was working with government and relevant agencies to spread awareness of the disease to local communities.

He advised the public to always eat foods that could build immunity as having a strong immune system was one of the ways to beat the disease.

Buba stated that it was a good sign that the virus could be defeated in the state as the number of discharged cases exceeded the number of active cases.

Edited By: Bayo Sekoni/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Reopening of worship centres: Cleric advises religious leaders to obey govt. order



Pastor Timothy Olajide of the Christ Glory Church, Ilorin, has advised religious leaders in Kwara to ensure compliance with the government directives as worship centres set to re-open on Friday,

Olajide gave this advice on Thursday while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria .

NAN reports that the Kwara Government had on Wednesday, announced the opening of worship centres from Friday with some safety conditions to guide worshippers.

“We, as leaders, must lead by example. Be you Pastor or Imam, and both the Church and Mosque executives must enforce members’ cooperation by doing what is expected of us.

“We have waited for long to witness the re-opening of worship centres. Thank God our prayers are answered. Let us not abuse the privilege by violating government order.

”I urge religious leaders to ensure that members obey government safety directives.

“Members’ safety should be our priority. There is no need spending time during services. Let us just do the necessary things and avoid repetitions,” he said.

NAN reports that the conditions highlighted by the state government were that each attendant  should observe one metre away from the next person.

Also, each worship centre should make provision for hand washing sanitisers, and infrared thermometer.

The government has also made the use of face masks mandatory for all worshipers and there should be no hand shaking or hugging among them.

Other conditions are; children remain restricted from worship centres, people above 65 or persons with underlying health conditions should stay away.

For Muslims, they should perform ablution from their own house while the women are to stay away from Mosques.

The government also directed every worship centre to dedicate a few minutes before service or prayers to educate attendants about COVID-19 and its dangers.

It directed worship centres to adequately ventilate, as Response Team would conduct random visits to take samples and do temperature checks among others.

NAN, however, reports that the Kwara Government, has vowed to hold any religious leaders responsible for non-compliance with all COVID-19 related safety measures in their worship centres.

The leadership of religious communities agreed that any worship centre that violated these provisions would be shut and its leadership strictly held accountable.

Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Yemi Idris-Aduloju (NAN)

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Lockdown: Gov. Oyetola orders reopening of worship centre in Osun



Gov. Gboyega Oyetola of Osun on Wednesday ordered partial reopening of worship centres in the state for two weeks.

Oyetola, in a meeting held with Christian and Muslim religious leaders in Osogbo, said the decision to reopen worship centers partially was in response to the leaders’ request.

He also said that the reopening was due to Federal Government resolve to lift ban on religious activities.

The governor said the state government had prepared guidelines that must be followed to forestall possible spread of the virus as a result of the reopening of worship centres.

Oyetola said further actions by the government would be determined by the effect of compliance level to the guidelines by churches and mosques during the two-week period.

He also said that only regular church services of not more than one hour and maximum of two services would be allowed.

”Jumat service including khutbah (sermon) and prayers must not exceed 20 minutes.

”Vulnerable individuals such as those from age 65 and above and people with underlying ailments such as tuberculosis and diabetes were to continue worshipping at their respective homes,” Oyetola said.

He also directed that all church and mosque premises be fumigated to ensure that the environment are free of virus and other infectious diseases.

“Worshipers are to keep reasonable space in churches and mosques and no worship centre must be filled to capacity during any service and solat, respectively.

“Attendance at any service or solat must not exceed one-third capacity of the church or mosque.

“There should be provision of washing facilities or sanitisers for worshipers before entering the churches and mosques.

“Also, use of face mask is important, sharing of worship devices such as microphones and other musical gadgets should be discouraged. Water and food distribution during service should not be allowed.

“Worshippers must avoid exchange of banters and social distancing must be strictly observed.

”Windows in churches and mosques should be opened during worship for ventilation.

“Signage and notices should be placed at strategic locations to remind worshippers of best hygiene practices to be observed,” the governor said.

He also mandated churches and mosques to provide thermometers to check temperature of worshippers, adding that whoever has high temperature should not be allowed into the worship centres.

The governor added that vigils and children activities remain suspended, and that worship centres with support of security operatives should set up taskforce to enforce compliance with measures put in place by the government.

He, however, appreciated the leadership of both religions for their cooperation and understanding since the lockdown began in the state.

“We seek your continued cooperation so that we can together save our people from this deadly outbreak,” the governor said.

Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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