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COVID 19: Buhari approves immediate payment of university lecturers withheld salaries

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President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the immediate payment of the February and March, withheld salaries of lecturers in federal universities who have not registered in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, made this disclosure in a statement signed by his new media aide, Emmanuel Nzomiwu.

Ngige said the president also directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and Planning, and the Accountant General of the Federation to effect the payment urgently to cushion the deleterious effects of COVID 19 pandemic lockdown on lecturers and members of their family.

The Labour Minister added that all the Vice Chancellors were asked to revalidate the affected lecturers Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) and forward to the Accountant General of the Federation for the payments.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Federal Government had directed all federal tertiary institutions in the country to enroll in the IPPIS from February 2020.

 

MNA

Edited By: Maureen Atuonwu (NAN)

 

Health

COVID-19: PTF lifts ban on religious gathering, shortens curfew

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Mr Boss Mustapha, the chairman, Presidential Task Force (PTF), on COVID-19, has said that the ban on religious gathering has been lifted based on guidelines and protocols agreed with state governments.

Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said this at the PTF on COVID-19 daily briefing on Monday in Abuja.

This is as the curfew from the current 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. had been shortened from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., starting from Tuesday.

According to Mustapha, the relaxation of the restriction on places of worship is based on guidelines issued by the PTF and Protocols agreed by State Governments.

He, however, said bars, gyms and nightclubs would remain closed.

“After considering all factors mentioned above, the PTF submitted its recommendations and the President has approved them for implementation over the next four weeks, spanning June 2, to June 29, subject to review,” he said.

He said that there would be an application of science and data to guide the targeting of areas of high transmission of COVID-19 in the country.

He noted the mobilisation of resources at State and Local Government levels to create public awareness on COVID-19 and improve compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions within communities.

According to him, sustenance of key non-pharmaceutical interventions will apply nationwide and includes ban on gatherings of more than 20 people outside of the workplace.

Mustapha said the protocols include to manage access to markets and locations of economic activity to limit the risk of transmission, Ban on inter-state travels except for the movement of agricultural produce, petroleum products, manufactured goods and essential services.

Others are “mandatory use of non-medical face masks in public places; mandatory provision of handwashing facilities/sanitisers in all public places and extensive temperature checks in public places”.

He added maintaining two metres between people in public places.

In his speech, the National Coordinator of PTF, Dr Sanni Alihu, said that the aviation sector would be asked to prepare for the possible resumption of domestic flights from June 21.

Aliyu added that a national curfew would be shortened to 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. from Tuesday, from the current 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. order.

He explained that the nation’s financial sector would also be able to resume normal working hours.

The National Coordinator stated that other curbs remained in place, such as a ban on interstate travel, with a few exceptions, such as for essential workers.

He added that face masks must still be worn in public.


Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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COVID-19: Enugu govt. distributes palliatives to cab operators

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The Enugu State government, on Monday at Okpara Square, presented food items and protective equipment to members of the Coal City Cabs/Taxi Operators’ Union in the state.
The state Deputy Governor, Mrs Cecilia Ezeilo, said the gesture was part of efforts to cushion the effects of the lockdown, occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ezeilo said that government was committed to the wellbeing of the people of the state.
According to her, government has been consistent in the distribution of food items to various groups in the state, including the poorest of the poor, since the outbreak of the pandemic.
The deputy governor appealed to members of the union to continue to abide by the government’s restriction orders as well as the safety protocols in order to be free from the virus.
Responding, the Chairman of the cab operators, Mr Samuel Ajogwu, commended the state government for its efforts at assisting the less-privileged and groups through distribution of palliatives.
Ajogwu also commended the government for its efforts at containing the spread of the virus in the state.
“It is heartwarming that the state government has deemed it necessary to provide us with these food items as palliatives,” he said.
The chairman expressed the union’s resolve to assist the state government in containing the spread of the virus in the state.


Edited By: Benson Iziama and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq

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Health

COVID-19: Kaduna govt. begins community case-search, visits 29,771 households

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The Kaduna State Ministry of Health has commenced active case search within communities in the nine local government areas where COVID-19 infections have been confirmed.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Amina Mohammed-Baloni, said in a statement on Monday that health officials were going into communities to search for and test persons who might be showing any COVID-19 symptom.
“As part of the active case search, 29,771 households have so far been visited. Health officials have tested 297 persons with symptoms such as fever and sore throat,’’ she said.
The commissioner explained that the search for probable cases within communities was combined with targeted testing of contacts of confirmed cases and testing of persons with symptoms that met the case definition.
She warned that the number of COVID-19 cases in the state was likely to increase, as more tests were conducted in more areas.
“Expanded testing will enable early identification of new cases and will help prevent further spread of the virus by getting infected persons to be isolated and treated earlier.
“It will also provide more accurate data to inform government’s decisions, going forward,’’ she added.
The commissioner further said that the active case search had given the ministry the opportunity to search for other medical conditions and provide services to the communities.
She said that as at May 31, the state had recorded a total of 258 cases, out of which 93 were active cases, with 157 discharged 157 and eight fatalities.


Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq

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Health

COVID-19: NDE begins production, distribution of 20,000 face masks in Sokoto

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The National Directorate of Employment (NDE), in partnership with the Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, has begun the production of 20,000 face masks for distribution to Sokoto residents as part of measures to contain COVID-19.

The Sokoto State Coordinator of NDE, Mrs Eunice Danmallam, disclosed this at the training programme on Monday in Sokoto.

Danmallam said the initiative was part of Director General of NDE, Dr. Nasir Ladan-Argungu’s efforts to curtail the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

She added that the production had begun under the Basic National Open Apprenticeship Scheme (B-NOAS) where 50 participants were currently undergoing training in Sokoto.

According to her, the production and distribution of the face masks are in collaboration with Aisha Buhari’s pet project, the “Future Assured Initiative.”

She also explained that both the trainers and the trainees involved in the production of the face masks would  be given incentives to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown.

“About 20,000 safety face masks will be produced and distributed free to the people of Sokoto state.

“The trainees and trainers of NDE are fully involved in the production and incentives will be given to cushion the effect of COVID-19 lockdown in the state,” she said.

She explained that Ladan-Argungu had directed the use of local fabrics in the mass production of the face masks, aimed at promoting Federal Government’s policy on enhancing and patronising local raw materials.

” This activity will go a long way in stimulating the economy,” she said.

She expressed optimism that Sokoto state would continue to  participate in the various programmes initiated by the NDE.


Edited By: Chioma Ugboma and Isaac Ukpoju (NAN)

 

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COVID-19: Aisha Buhari renovates 15-bed capacity facility in Nasarawa

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First Lady Aisha Buhari has renovated and equipped a 15-bed capacity ward in Mararaba Gurku Medical Centre in Nasarawa State to provide conducive atmosphere for COVID-19 patients.

Buhari also built two sanitary and administrative block in the facility.

Buhari, who was represented by Dr Haji Sani, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Women Affairs and Administration, said the facility was part of her effort  towards supporting the state in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

She urged the management of the centre to ensure proper maintenance of the facility.

The first lady also distributed personal protective equipments (PPEs), food items and other medical equipments.

Buhari enjoined residents of the state to sustain prayers against the spread of coronavirus pandemic in the country.

In his response, the Nasarawa State deputy governor and Chairman, State Taskforce on COVID-19, Dr Emmanuel Akabe, thanked the first lady for the gesture and promised to make judicious use of the facility.

Akabe said the state government was making frantic efforts towards containing the spread of the pandemic in the state.

He said the facility would be used as one of the isolation centres to cater for the COVID-19 patients in the state.

Also speaking, the Chief Medical Director, Nasarawa State Hospitals Management Board, Dr Usman George, expressed appreciation to the first lady for the gesture.

George said that the facility was one of the site identified by the state government to treat COVID-19 patients.

”We want to make proper use of this place to have a unilateral flow where you have donning areas where you have personal protective equipments and areas where you remove the personal protective equipments.

”We also intend to put cardiac monitors and one or two ventilators as part of the state government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic,” he said.


Edited By: Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)

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COVID-19: VSF donates video teleconferencing solutions device to NCDC

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The Victims Support Fund (VSF) Taskforce on COVID-19 has  donated Video Teleconferencing Solutions Device valued, N31 million to Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to facilitate its service delivery.

Video conferencing is a telecommunication gadget used in  bringing people together, face-to-face, no matter where they are.

Mrs Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji, Head of the Taskforce, during the presentation in Abuja on Monday,  said that NCDC was one of the most important government agencies in Nigeria, hence there was need to support its activities.

She said  the idea of donating the device was to aid the NCDC management reach out to its staff faster, considering the role of the centre.

“We realise that the centre needs a strategic communication frame work to reach out to people across all the health care institutions within the federation for urgent response to disease control,” she said.

She also noted that the Chairman of VSF, Gen. TY Danjuma (Rtd) inaugurated the VSF Task Force on COVID-19 so as to provide palliatives to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and other vulnerable groups around the country.

She also said  the taskforce donated 10 kg bags of rice, beans, maize, garri, 4 litres of vegetable oil and 2kg of salt to many households across four geopolitical zones of the country,  covered so far.

Akerele-Ogunsiji said that 27,000 households across Lagos, Ogun, Borno, Adamawa, Yobe and Taraba states would be benefiting from the gesture.

She further said the exercise was to mitigate the hardship that Nigerians, particularly the vulnerable, were experiencing at this period of pandemic.

According to her, VSF is committed to sustaining efforts in the global fight against the devastating Coronavirus pandemic.

“It will continue to work to provide succour to victims of insurgency and armed conflicts in Nigeria, especially in the areas of livelihood, recovery, education, protection, infrastructural development as well as research and peace building,” she said.

She said that VSF had so far,  reached out to relevant stakeholders with medical consumables, Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities and personal protective equipment in a bid to curtail the spread of the virus.

“We are also working with the vulnerable, institutions and agencies supporting the government as part of its contribution to national efforts in the fight against COVID-19.

“The taskforce is working closely with all the relevant agencies at the Federal, State and Local Governments to contain the pandemic,” she said.

Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General, NCDC,  appreciated VSF taskforce for reaching out to the centre, saying that the intervention would help the centre facilitate response to disease as it would reduce cost of movement from one place to another.

Ihekweazu noted that the intervention was apt and would actively help the centre to drive its response.

“This particular intervention will be credibly useful for our response considering our role.

According to him, the big task the centre has is coordinating the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the country.

“We have a public health department and emergency operation centre in each of those states, what we try to do is to make sure that we are all alive in the response.

“We provide them with all the support that they need to respond to this outbreak and other outbreak in their states.

“And in order to do that effectively, we need this kind of communication equipment especially now that we cannot travel as often as we want.

“Even when the roads are opened up, it takes a lot to ask the state team to leave their states and come to central location,’’ he said.

He however, was optimistic that the world would not be the same after this Coronavirus outbreak “as far as public health is concerned and we will have to engage more of this communication equipment.

“Because this is exactly what we need at this point in time; a new way of living, a new way of working; where you are constantly in touch with people without actually physically traveling,” he said.


Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Maureen Atuonwu (NAN)

 

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Health

Okei-Odumakin raises concern as COVID-19 cases cross 10,000 line

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Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, President, Centre for Change, has expressed concern over the rising number of COVID-19 infection in the country, saying the country is yet to reach peak of the pandemic.

Okei-Odumakin, who expressed this concern on Monday in a statement in Lagos, decried the capacity of government to test citizens for the virus so as to isolate and treat the infected.

“The figure of Nigerians infected with coronavirus keeps surging, meaning that we are yet to reach the plateau of the pandemic.

“Last night, the figure hits 10,162 while Lagos still leads on the chart of new infections with 188 cases, followed by the FCT with 44.

“The capacity of government to test citizens for the virus so as to isolate and treat the infected continues at snail’s speed.

“Testing kits and reagents as well as PPE equipments and materials are said to be in short supply, in addition to their prices hitting the roof.

“Governments are running short of beds in the available isolation centres and treating less severe cases at home is being considered an option,” Okei-OdumkIn said.

According to her, it is however not pessimism all the way as 3007 cases have been successfully treated and discharged.

The group president, who noted that the death toll had climbed to 287, said that the number was less than three per cent of the total number of infected, including those discharged.

She, however, said that the fatalities number, viewed against the total national population of 200 million, showed it was massive.

“As state and federal governments contemplate more relaxation of the lockdown so that life can return to normal, apprehension mounts about the continuing spike in the number of infected persons.

“Another total lockdown appears ruled out for economic and security reasons. The impact of previous lockdowns on individuals and the economy has been massive.

“Besides, its effectiveness in combating the pandemic has also been called to question,” she added.

The president, in addition, expressed concern that citizens with other ailments requiring visits to hospitals had been crowded out of the health facilities.

The rights activist said that fatalities arising from hospitals and health workers refusing to admit and treat emergency or sick patients on the suspicion they could be COVID- 19 patients was on the rise.

Okei-Odumakin said: “More worrisome is the fact that security agencies meant to enforce the lockdowns in operation all over the country have generally compromised and allowed movement of goods and persons for pecuniary gains.

“The unwise dispersal of almajiris in some Northern states, many of them trooping into the South, has also not helped efforts to combat the virus.

“The high rate of new infections in Lagos has been put down to this influx, in addition to its being the economic life wire of the country where all paths meet.

“Managing the pandemic until a vaccine or other means of treatment is found or herd immunity is attained appear to be the unstated hope of the governments and the agencies tasked with managing the crisis.

“The other end, of course, is to continue to trust in God and prayers, and in the resilience and never-say-die spirit of our people while the NCDC continues to try its best.”

She also expressed concern that non-compliance with COVID-19 protocols of PPE and physical distancing by a lot of Nigerians had not made the job of the NCDC easier.

According to her, a vast number of Nigerians still continue to be sceptical about the existence of the virus, believing the lies and half truths that it is a white man’s disease or virus of the affluent and rich.

She also described as condemnable and suspicious, the manner government had handled palliatives and relief materials meant to cushion the impact of coronavirus on the vulnerable segments of the society.

Okei-Odumakin added that this had also fuelled the belief that the virus had only offered another opportunity for a corrupt elite to fleece the country.

“As matters now stand, the last has not been heard of COVID-19 and our response to it at national and state levels,” she said.


Edited By: Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

 

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Nigeria yet to reach ‘peak’ of COVID-19 cases – PTF

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The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19,  says Nigeria is yet to reach the “peak” of COVID-19 infections.

The chairmen of PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Mr Boss Mustapha , disclosed this at the COVID-19 daily news conference on Monday in Abuja.

He said it was necessary to restate to the citizenry,  that Nigeria had not reached the peak of confirmed cases, adding that the battle against COVID-19 was a long term battle.

He urged Nigerian to pursue a strategy that would aid the sustainable control of the spread of the disease, stressing that risk communications and community engagement should remain  top priority.

He added that precision approached to containment and management should be adopted based on the overall assessment, including available data on the public health considerations and resultant economic impacts.

According to him, the PTF is of the opinion that Nigeria is ready to allow science and data determine her cautious advancement into the second phase of the eased lockdown for a period of four weeks.

“It is the consideration of the PTF that while Nigeria’s confirmed cases have increased in the period under review, the following factors should inspire confidence in the response

“Majority of the confirmed cases are in a handful of local government areas  in the country as 20 out of the 774 LGAs nationwide account for 60 per cent of the cases,” he said.

He said there was an opportunity to concentrate efforts in the high-burden areas, adding that the federal agencies and state governments were working together on the promotion and utilisation of guidelines on case management.

According to him, there is increased capacity to detect, test and trace those infected with the virus as 29 testing laboratories have been activated, with Bauchi being the latest addition.

He added that the test count nationwide had exceeded 60,000, stating that a shift in focus to community engagement and enhanced risk communication was imperative.


Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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COVID -19: Youth group inaugurates e-clinic in Kano

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A youth group, known as COVID-19 Relief Alliance (CORA) has inaugurated an e-clinic to cater for the health needs of the people of Kano State during the COVID -19 pandemic.

Dr Khalid Umar, Head of the Project, launched the e-clinic at the Centre for Infectious Disease and Research, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano, on Monday.

He said the initiative was carried out in collaboration with the teaching hospital and Private Health Instructions Management Agency of the state government.

He said the aim of the project was to carter for outpatients in the state thereby reducing their risk of contracting COVID-19.

According to Umar, the e-clinic operates through a 24/7 toll-free line that enables residents to consult highly trained and experienced physicians via voice or video call during and after the pandemic.

The director, Center for Infectious Disease and Research, Prof. Isa Abubakar, said the e-clinic would reduce the number of people who visited hospitals as a way of curbing the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

“Patients can now consult a physician at the comfort of their homes with a voice or video, which is toll free.

“These days people are afraid to go to hospitals because of the pandemic. This technology will go a long way in helping the less privileged and poor ones in the society,” he said.

Abubakar commended the eight NGOs for the initiative.‎

Head of Mobilisation of CORA, Bashir Suaid, said the organisation received about 4,000 calls and distributed palliative to 1,450 people during a10-day test run.

He identified the NGOs that formed the alliance as the Arewa Young Entrepreneurs Initiative, Minds in Making, Orphans and Women Support Group, and Teens Development Initiative.

Others, he said, are: Angels of Hope, Jamar Health Foundation, Hope for Healthy Society and the Exceptional Girls Network. (NAN)


Edited By: Chidi Opara/Salif Atojoko (NAN)

 

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