The Plateau Commisioner for Health, Dr Nimkong Lar, on Sunday, said that 41 health workers had been infected with COVID-19 in the state, with eight deaths recorded. The commissioner made the disclosure at a press briefing in Jos on the update on government’s efforts at combating COVID-19 in the state. According to him, the state has 330 confirmed cases of the disease out of the 4,076 tests carried out so far. “We have received 3,471 results, with 605 pending. We have 99 in our isolation centres and 37 on home care,” Lar said. In his remarks, the Chairman of the state COVID-19 Task Force, Gov. Simon Lalong, expressed worries over the increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the state. Lalong, who was represented by the Secretary of the task force, who is also the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Danladi Atu, said that government was redoubling its enforcement efforts across the state. He said that the enforcement would be concentrated more on the six local government areas with the highest prevalence of the disease. “Commencing from June 29, the enforcement teams will wage a robust action on defaulters, whether citizens or organisations, particularly in the six local governments, including Jos North, Jos South, Barkin Ladi, Mangu, Kanam and Kanke. “This enforcement will go simultaneously with public education campaign by health educators to further enlighten the citizens on the dangers of the disease and what to do to be protected,” he said. The governor said that the enlightenment, which would be in the metropolis and rural areas, was in collaboration with the officials of the National Orientation Agency (NOA) stationed at the grassroots. He said that the exercise was not to stigmatise people living in those local governments, but to contain the disease from spreading further among them. Lalong called for the cooperation of residents in adhering to preventive guidelines for their safety, urging them to imbibe another pattern of life in consonance with the COVID-19 social behaviour. Also speaking at the briefing, the state House of Assembly Committee Chairman on Health, Hon. Nanbol Listick, attributed the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases to the attitude and conduct of the residents. He, however, expressed worries that the closure of boundaries within the affected six local governments, their socio-economic activities and cultural pattern had made them vulnerable. “We may lockdown some local governments to contain further spread of the disease,” Listick said. The lawmaker urged Plateau residents to engage health workers to get appropriate enlightenment on the disease to ensure their safety. The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Jos North Local Government has 177 cases; Jos South, 81; Barkin Ladi, 12 and Mangu, 10.
Edited By: Tayo Ikujuni and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq
2020 Edo Trade Fair will mitigate effects of Covid 19 on the economy- BENCCIMA
Atekha-Odemwingie said the trade fair, which would hold before the end of the year, would be an opportunity to re-launch the state as well as the nation’s economy after the challenges posed by the pandemic.
“We are optimistic that the fair will surpass achievements of the 2019 trade fair and help boost businesses and employment by attracting investors from around the country and beyond.
“We hope to harness the resources in the agriculture, natural and numerous businesses in the state.”
Mr Chima Okenwa, the Manager of Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL MFB)in Benin Office, during a lecture presentation at the event, said the pandemic had crippled many businesses in the country.
Okenwa said the immediate and future effects of Covid-19 could be mitigated by injecting finance into the coffers of businesses and families.
He said NISRAL was providing cheap loans for many small and medium-scale businesses affected by the pandemic.
“We have financial packages to assist new and existing business during the pandemic. You can also access our funds to start a business.”
The Head of Edo Investment Promotion Office, Mr Kevin Uwaibe, advised that technology platforms should be created for businesses in the state to showcase their products and services during the trade fair.
Uwaibi said the chamber should have a help desk for businesses as well as set up a support group for starters.
He added the state government was also assisting businesses to thrive during the pandemic through provision of inputs to farmers and tax holiday for transport operators.
Edited By: Benson Iziama/Tajudeen Atitebi (NAN)
Covid-19: NGO distributes palliatives to physically changed
Lola Cater for the Needy Foundation, an Abuja-based non-governmental organisation, has distributed some palliative materials to the People Living With Disabiluties (PLWDs)in Karamajiji, Abuja.
The organisation visited the PLWDs colony on Saturday where it distributed food stuffs, instructional materials on COVID-19, stationery items , cloths, shoes, hand sanitiser, liquid soap and water dispensers.
Miss Ololade Ogunnubi, Founder of the organisation, said that the organisation also embarked on sensitisation of the community to the effects of COVID-19 pandemic and ways to prevent the virus.
Ogunnubi said that the campaign was aimed at making persons with disabilities aware of the pandemic and also to provide palliatives to them.
The campaign which took place at the the physically challenged colony in Karamajiji was in conjunction with WaterWide, also an non-governmental organisation.
Ogunnubi said that the campaign had become imperative as the pandemic had exposed the vulnerable group to more hardship and difficulty in feeding themselves.
According to her, persons with disabilities are often being left behind in campaigns as this, even though they are the worst hit by all forms illnesses.
She said that it was important to empower them with relevant information of how the pandemic could spread and also provide them with local mitigation measures.
He said that it would not be good to give out only relief materials without teaching them basic hygiene practices.
Atumeyi also encouraged other well meaning Nigerians to come to the aid of the vulnerable and persons with disabilities, as the pandemic was having negative impacts on them.
Alhaji Suleiman Mohammed, the leader of the colony, while receiving the items, appreciated the organisations for the kind gesture.
Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Kayode Olaitan (NAN)
Covid-19: FCT Minister tasks health professionals on synergy
He noted that the successes recorded in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic was largely due to the synergy between the various health professionals in the FCT.
Bello, therefore, urged them to continue to function as a unified team in the fight against COVID-19.
The minister commended the good works of all the health workers in the FCT especially for their efforts at combating the Coronavirus disease.
He pledged that the FCT Administration would continue to partner with the PSN as a large number of its members are staff of the FCTA who are also involved in the fight against the COVID-19.
Bello urged the PSN to forge a robust relationship with the National Drug Law enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in order to reduce the menace of drug abuse among residents of the territory.
Earlier, Chairman of the FCT PSN, Mr Jelili Kilani, commended the FCTA for the support it has always rendered to the association.
Kilani emphasised the need for greater collaboration between the PSN and the FCTA.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the PSN used the visit to donates Personal Protective Equipments, First Aid materials and hand hygiene products to the FCTA.
Edited By: Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)
COVID19: Jos fish grillers lament low patronage
Aba said this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria on Friday in Jos.
She said that there was reduction in sales as a result of the pandemic stressing that the situation has affected members of the association.
She said so many people were being careful about eating outside their homes for fear of contracting the virus.
“This is what we do for a living and our families depend on us and we have other responsibilities as well, we don’t know what else to do,” she said.
Aba also lamanted the high cost of fish saying that a carton of tilapia had risen to N21, 000 with 17 to 20 pieces in each carton.
” Before the pandemic, after selling a carton one could make as much as N10,000 toN15000 profit daily but now we make between N5000 to N1000 daily, ” she said.
The chairperson, however, said that she was hopeful that as soon as the health situation improved, sales would get better.
Other grillers who also spoke with NAN also lamented that sales had dropped since the pandemic started.
Miss Beatrice Donatus said that before the pandemic she sold about two to three cartons of fish daily.
“Our current daily sales is half of a carton and some times we don’t even sell at all, ” Danatus said.
Mrs Plangnan Famu, said that even though there was low patronage she still had to go out to make the little money she could to feed her children.
” I have not been able to sell half a cartoon in three days but we are hopeful because if you stay at home nobody would give you money for food, ” Famu said.
Edited By: Edith Bolokor and Abdullahi Yusuf (NAN)
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Covid-19: Dana Air introduces WhatsApp booking
Dana Air says it has introduced WhatsApp booking in line with the social/physical distancing measures of Covid-19 and create ease of booking, payment and inquiries for its passengers.
Ezenwa states that the WhatsApp booking, payment platform which is the first of its kind in Nigeria, will serve as an additional platform for booking, inquiries, reservation and payment, apart from the airline’s website –www.flydanaair.com, the Dana Air Mobile App and the self- service kiosk at MMA2 Ikeja, Lagos.
He said “we care about the well-being of our guests and we want them to be safe.
“This is why we are introducing this initiative to keep our guests safe, while still booking and paying the smartest and safest way from anywhere around the world.
”This additional booking platform and many others in the months to come are part of our strategies to keep our guests booking safely, and flying safely, without stress. It is safe, faster and user-friendly.
“WhatsApp booking will be operational from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily for a start, while we are working out modalities to make it 24 hours, seven days a week. All our customers need to do is just send us a chat on 07051190363 (WhatsApp only) and it’s done. So easy.”
”We are also working on other booking initiatives that will guarantee ease of booking with or without a smartphone for the busy, young and old within Nigeria and beyond.”
He said Dana Air has a total of nine aircraft in its fleet, a mix of Boeing 737 and McDonnel Douglas.
Edited By: Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu (NAN)
African refugees may starve as COVID-19 worsen – UNHCR, WFP warn
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have warned of an impending hunger and malnutrition among millions of refugees in Africa as COVID-19 impact worsens.
The UNHCR and WFP in a joint statement on Thursday said that the refugees might also be starved due to the dwindling funds of humanitarian aid.
The statement said that the supply chain challenges, rising food prices and loss of income due to COVID-19 would worsen if urgent actions are not taken.
It said that of the about 1.2 billion dollars needed to care for refugees in 2020, more than half was for operations in Africa, noting that the funds had gravely dwindled, already forcing cuts in food rations.
It stated that WFP was providing food assistance to more than 10 million refugees worldwide.
It said that the assistance include those in the world’s largest refugee settlements, such as Bidibidi settlement in Uganda, where rations were reduced by 30 per cent in April due to lack of fund.
”Refugee populations who were previously able to feed and fend for themselves, including many living in urban areas and those working in the informal economy, are also facing significant challenges.
“Large numbers have lost their only source of income as work possibilities disappeared due to COVID-19 prevention measures.
“Most are not covered by social protection schemes, leaving many families destitute and dependent on humanitarian assistance,” it stated.
It added that many refugees in South Africa were in danger of being evicted and had approached UNHCR helplines in desperate need of food and support.
”At the same time, import and export restrictions are squeezing supply chains.
“In the landlocked Sahel, COVID-19 prevention measures such as border closures and movement restrictions limits capacity to transport produce in a region where escalating insecurity, violence and conflict.
“Compounded by the impact of climate change and poverty, has disrupted food security and livelihoods for millions of people,” it said.
It noted that assistance for vulnerable groups, including more than 1.2 million refugees in the region, needed to be sustained.
It said that in Cameroon, WFP was forced to reduce its assistance to refugees from the Central African Republic by 50 per cent in May and June due to funding gaps, adding that based on current funding levels, it would have to stop cash assistance entirely from August.
It added that in the Republic of Congo, the average price of a basic food basket has increased by 15 per cent while in Rwanda, WFP market monitoring around refugee camps found food prices were already on average 27 per cent higher in April 2020 compared to 2019, and 40 per cent higher than in 2018.
“As a result of these challenges, many refugees are resorting to negative coping mechanisms, such as skipping meals or reducing meal portions.
“More than 80 per cent of refugees in South Sudan are estimated to be resorting to such measures. In some cases, refugees are resorting to begging, transactional sex or early or forced marriages to be able to afford food.
”UNHCR and WFP are, however, concerned about the negative impact of reduced assistance on refugees and urged donors in the international community to provide further funding to ensure refugees do not face starvation,” it said.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi said that millions of refugees throughout Africa were currently reliant on regular aid to meet their food needs.
Grandi said that in view of the economic challenges and poor funding occasioned by the unending pandemic, the refugees needed the assistance of the UN now more than ever.
“Around half are children, who may develop life-long difficulties if deprived of food at vital stages in their development,” Grandi said.
David Beasley, WFP’s Executive Director, says, “Unless urgent action is taken to address the situation, levels of acute malnutrition, stunting and anemia are expected to rise.
“In refugee camps in Ethiopia, 62 per cent of children is experiencing critical levels of anemia.
“While the situation continues to deteriorate for everyone, the disaster is magnified for refugees who have absolutely nothing to cushion their fall.
“In the best of times, refugees live in cramped conditions, struggle to meet basic needs and often have no option but to rely on outside assistance for survival.
“Now more than ever, they need lifesaving support”, he said.
According to him, globally, WFP activities supporting refugees have a net funding requirement of more than 1.2 billion dollars from July to December of which 694 million dollars was for operations in Africa.
“African governments are urged to ensure refugees and displaced populations are included in social safety nets and COVID-19 response plans.
“This is in line with commitments to the Global Compact on Refugees, to ensure they are able to access food and emergency cash assistance.”
Edited By: Chinyere Bassey and Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)
COVID-19: Nigeria, Africa to expand testing capacity with homemade diagnostic kit
Nigeria’s efforts at developing solution to the challenge of non-availability and high cost of coronavirus diagnostic kits have finally paid off with the development of RNASwift Extraction kit.
This was disclosed by Prof. Alex Akpa, Director-General of National Biotechnology Development Agency(NABDA)on Thursday during a news briefing held at the conference room of Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, Abuja.
He said the RNASwift test kit would not only revolutionalise Africa’s PCR-Based COVID-19 testing, but will also expand the capacity by 50 times at least.
Akpa also said it would equally reduce cost by over 500 per cent as compared to the conventional kit in use.
“This meets the demands of the Test Africa Initiative. The kits will be produced in Nigeria, which is great news considering that it will enable preference to be given to the testing needs of Africa.
“The need for the invention was conceived by the request from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), to test five million farmers and farm hands.
According to him, the RNASwift test kit is an indigenous diagnostic test kit designed, developed and validated in Nigeria for the identification of the causal agent, SARS-Cov-2, which causes COVID-19.
He noted that the diagnostic kit is “very accurate and sensitive’’ and competes favourably with conventional and commercially available kits for the diagnosis of COVID-19.
“This is in addition to a careful choice of reagents that are human and environmentally friendly in the development of the protocol for the diagnostic kit.
“In fact, the attributes of the RNASwift kits make it a game changer in the design and production of diagnostic kits for infectious diseases in the face of an epidemic or a pandemic,’’ Akpa said.
He further said that the project was made possible due to the scientific collaboration between the NABDA, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and Nigerian Institute for Medical Research (NIMR).
Prof. Akpa added that the technical support team of University of Sheffield, led by Dr Alison Nwokeoji, also made the project successful.
In his speech at the briefing, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology, recalled that the first index case of COVID-19 was recorded in Nigeria on Feb. 27.
Onu said he had tasked Nigerian scientists to come up with a solution with the sum of N36 million pledge.
The Minister said Nigerians were creative and talented enough to develop home grown solutions to major challenges confronting the country, Africa and the world, with the RNASwift test kit as an example.
“Today, the RNASwift extraction kit developed by Nigerian scientists has capacity in an accurate, sensitive and affordable cost to detect SARS-Cov2, the causative agent of COVID-19.
“With the RNASwift test kit, we are going to test five million farmers, and the new test kit will reduced cost drastically,’’ Onu said.
He hinted that the African Development Bank was interested in it, not only as Test Africa Initiative, but that Nigeria should be the rallying point.
Similarly, he said the other African countries stood to benefit from the test kits due to the low cost.
The minister commended NABDA and said the agency had not only made the Ministry proud but Nigeria as a whole.
Alhaji Sabo Nanono, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the test kit invented and developed was very critical to the present situation of insufficient test kits.
He said the FMARD was in the forefront when it came to food security, adding that with the invention and successful validation of the test kit, it was time for Nigerians to look inwards.
“We have talents and we need to develop and build on these talents, we will realise our target of testing five million farmers and Nigerians would be proud of this test kits,’’ Nanono said.
He applauded NABDA for the project, saying the success of the test kit was a milestone recorded in the FMST.
Speaking to newsmen on the sideline of the briefing, Dr Rose Gidado, Scientist and Deputy Director at NABDA, said the day was remarkable and historic for the agency, the ministry as well as Nigerians.
She said the new test kits could test more than 20,000 people a day but if more testing centres were set up, it could go up to 50,000 with automation.
The Scientist added that the need to test more Nigerians was necessary in order to isolate and treat.
Edited By: Tayo Ikujuni/Donald Ugwu (NAN)
LASG, Amuwo Odofin LG train 1,000 business owners on COVID-19 guidelines implementation
The theme is, ‘COVID-19 Safety Protocol Training for Business Owners’.
The training is taking place in batches throughout the duration of the programme in order to observe social distancing.
In his remark, the Chairman of the council, Mr Valentine Buraimoh, said the programme was aimed at keeping the participants abreast with the latest ways of doing business in the community.
“We all have a role to play as the business community to reduce the further spread of COVID-19,” he said.
Mr Ugochukwu Nwaelele, Director, Clarionttech Services, told the participants to ensure that they, as well as their customers were safe while doing business.
Nwaelele, who is also a Safety Consultant, advised that though the World Health Organisation had said COVID-19 was not airborne, having the mentality of it being spread through that means would make people more cautious.
He urged employers to ensure that they provided Personal Protective Equipment for their employees and items such as water, soap and sanitiser for their customers.
Mr Kadiri Shamusideen, Principal Consultant at Zub Chord Tech Ventures, told the participants to further enlighten their customers by putting up anti-COVID-19 signages in their business premises.
Shamusideen advised the participants to register on the LASG platform so their premises could be inspected for reopening of business.
A Participant, Mr Samuel Idowu, praised the organisers for having the interest of the business owners in the community at heart.
Idowu urged fellow business owners to ensure that they worked with the council in enforcing the guidelines against spread of the virus.
“As business owners, we shouldn’t compromise but go all out in the implementation of preventive measures against COVID-19,” he said.
Edited By: Razak Owolabi/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)
COVID-19: Rotary club unveils billboards for mass education
Assistant Governor of Zone 18, District 9141, Mr Mudiaga Iyomi, while unveiling the billboards, said it was to create awareness with the target of mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
According to him, the coronavirus pandemic has affected many people’s ability to continue their daily means of livelihood.
He said “Rotary club as a responsible organisation is taking part in the campaign to educate the public, not just via the virtual or radio media events but with what people
can see, read and relate with.
“The locations we decided to mount the billboards are very strategic because of high vehicular and human traffic.
The Assistant Governor of Zone 18 commended Rotary Club of Port Harcourt, GRA for the programme.
He said “this is really commendable by the club; it will help the people to understand that the virus is living with us but there are many things we can do to protect ourselves.”
Iyomi said while policy makers had advised government to open up the economy, people must take responsible actions to stop the virus from spreading.
“The virus doesn’t move on its own, it’s people that are moving it from one place to another, so this is a strategy to ensure that people are more cautious,” he said.
Veronique Tabai, the President of Rotary Club of Port Harcourt, GRA, said that the club was worried that the number of COVID-19 positive cases had
continued to rise on daily basis.
“So, because rotary cares, we see it as very important for people to know ways to prevent the virus from spreading.
“It’s clear that there are some safety measures people were not yet taking, this is to improve on the awareness of people,” she said.
Tabai said that the club’s mission was to provide service to others, promote integrity and advance world understanding, goodwill and peace.
She added that Rotary Club of Port Harcourt, GRA, keyed in by providing relevant information to the populace.
Some of the write ups on the billboards are: “endeavour to carry tissue paper always to catch your cough or sneeze.
“Bin it, do not liter used tissue, dispose them immediately; kill it, wash your hands always with soap and water, or an alcohol based hand rub.
“Stay alert to stay safe, control the virus, keep a safe distance, stay at home as much as possible, save lives.”
The three locations of the billboards are the Mummy B Road, New GRA, and Airport Road, Rukpoku Roundabout Airport Road and Rumuomasi Roundabout, Aba Road.
Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu (NAN)
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