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COVID-19: Christian group calls for increased testing centres, more kits

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Mr Anthony Fasehun, the Programme Officer, South West for the Christian Rural and Urban Development Association of Nigeria (CRUDAN), has called on government to urgently increase testing centres on COVID-19 to curb its spread.

Fasehun made the call in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria in Ibadan on Monday.

The group urged the government to make more kits available so as to increase the number of people being tested for the virus in a bid to contain it.

It appreciated government’s swift response at both federal and state levels in the fight against coronavirus in the country.

“Since COVID-19 is new, the test centres and kits are not enough. In a population of over 200 million, more people need to be tested, especially in high risk states.

“NCDC has been working tirelessly both in the various testing centres and through the media awareness, we appreciate its commitment.

“We must not wait till the virus gets to all the 36 states of the federation as it will be overwhelming to manage an outbreak, at a time maternal and child death, tuberculosis, malaria and lassa fever are still ravaging our land.

“Nigerians should see the test as an obligation to the country. Already the NCDC has developed a risk assessment that citizens can carry out to ascertain their risk level.

“For anyone who has just returned to the country, especially from high risk countries or visited any of the states with a case, should voluntarily go for a test.

“It is better to take the test than living with the fear of the unknown,” the group said.

It also suggested that security should be beefed up more than ever at a time like this to prevent cases of robbery, violence and other forms of abuse.

The group also advocated training and recruitment of more personnel and volunteers that would support the ongoing effort on containment.

“There should be collaboration with civil society groups that are credible and experienced in humanitarian work. This will further strengthen the work of the government, especially in the distribution of relief materials.

“Also, there is a need to increase the number of the beneficiaries of the N20,000 cash grant, as feedback from the citizens suggest exclusion of many people who are genuinely vulnerable.

“There is a need to intensify the awareness on COVID-19, especially in the rural communities as there are so many myths and misconceptions,” it said.

The group, however, called on Christian faithful to use the occasion of Easter to pray more than ever before.

“We need to call on God to heal our land and stop this pandemic.

“There is despair, anxiety, fear and disturbances in the land. God rescued his people during the plague while they were in slavery in Egypt; same God is still alive.

“Let us unite in prayer irrespective of our denomination.

“Our teachings should bring peace, hope and comfort. This is not the time to compete or proof scholastic prowess.

“We need God’s intervention not just in Nigeria but all over the world,” the group said.

Edited By: Fela Fashoro/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)

Health

COVID-19: Cases rise to 317 in Oyo as 15 more test positive

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Oyo State has recorded 15 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of infections in the state to 317.

The latest figures, released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), on Tuesday night revealed that the 15 cases in Oyo were among the 241 new cases recorded in 14 states.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) of the state COVID-19 Task Force said it would begin the community testing for COVID-19 on Wednesday.

The exercise is to determine the behaviour of the virus in the state.

The testing, expected to hold in 10 locations, will kick off in three different sites in Ibadan.

NAN also reports that the task force, on Tuesday, alerted residents that the ban on religious gathering and the curfew, imposed as a result of the pandemic, still remains in force in the state.

The task force, chaired by Gov. Seyi Makinde, stated that it would not be able to follow the decision by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, which relaxed the ban on religious gathering and the curfew.

It said that the position was informed by the ongoing risk situation analysis being undertaken by a team of experts.

“The task force is awaiting a risk situation analysis report by a team of experts, earlier commissioned to do so.

“The report is expected at the end of the week and it is only after the report has been analysed by the task force that it can be in a position to make further clarifications,’’ it stated.


Edited By: Tayo Ikujuni/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Economy

S/Korea unveils biggest extra budget plan to tackle COVID-19 outbreak

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South Korea unveiled the country’s biggest-ever supplementary budget plan on Wednesday to tackle an economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The extra budget plan worth 35.3 trillion won ($28.5 billion) will be submitted to the National Assembly for approval, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

If approved, it would be the country’s largest-ever supplementary budget.

The previous high was 28.4 trillion won ($23 billion) earmarked in 2009 to deal with the global financial crisis.

Of the total, 23.8 trillion won ($19.2 billion) will be financed through the issuance of government bonds, while the remaining 11.5 trillion won ($9.3 billion) will be funded through an adjusted fiscal expenditure.

Minister of Economy and Finance, Hong Nam-ki, who doubles as Deputy Prime Minister for economic affairs, told a press briefing that the COVID-19 outbreak roiled domestic demand, such as consumption and investment, as well as export and tourism coming from the global economic downturn.

Hong noted that the worsening of economic situations and the employment shock was coming into a clearer sight, explaining why the government drew up the third extra budget plan in 2020 alone.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Health

COVID-19: Bauchi deputy governor tests positive for virus

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Mr Baba Tela, the Deputy Governor of Bauchi state has tested positive to the novel Coronavirus, a statement issued by the state government revealed on Wednesday.

The statement, signed by  Mr Muktar Gidado, Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on media to the state governor, indicated that test by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed the development.

According to Gidado, Tela , who is also the Chairman, State Task Force Committee on COVID-19, was tested after exhibiting noticeable symptoms of the virus, adding that all his primary contacts had been taken for screening.

“This is to inform the general public that His Excellency, Sen. Baba Tela, Deputy Governor of Bauchi State, was confirmed positive of Coronavirus.

“The confirmation was sequel to a test carried out on him by NCDC when he exhibited noticeable symptoms of the disease.

“He contracted the disease while discharging his onerous responsibility as Chairman of the the State Committee on COVID-19.

“Consequently, he has gone into self-isolation in Bauchi and health professionals are properly managing his situation.

“Similarly, samples of all his primary contacts have been taken by NCDC for tests and they are advised to remain in isolation pending the outcome of their results,” Gidado said.

The SSA further stressed that Gov. Bala Mohammad had sympathised with his deputy and solicited for prayers from all for his speedy recovery.

He said that the governor also called on the citizens to adhere strictly to the protocols against the dreaded virus to curtail its spread in the State.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Bauchi state, as at Tuesday, June 2, had recorded a total 241 cases of COVID-19, out of which 221 had been discharged while eight had died.

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Foreign

COVID-19 cases surpass 200,000 mark in India, death toll 5,815

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The number of COVID-19 cases surpassed the 200,000 mark, reaching 207,615, even as the death toll reached 5,815 in India on Wednesday, said the latest data issued by the federal health ministry.

As many as 217 new deaths and 8,909 fresh cases were reported in the past 24 hours, added the ministry’s data. This is the highest single-day spike in terms of new COVID-19 cases in the country.

As on 8:00 a.m. (local time) Wednesday, 5,815 deaths related to novel Coronavirus have been recorded in the country,” reads information released by the ministry.

On Tuesday morning the number of COVID-19 cases in the country was 198,706, and the death toll 5,598.

According to ministry officials, so far 100,303 recoveries people have been discharged from hospitals after showing improvement.

“The number of active cases in the country right now is 101,497,” reads the information.

The 5th phase of nationwide lockdown came into force from Monday. This phase marks several relaxations and reopening in a phased manner.

On March 25 India had announced a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 and break the chain of infection.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

S.Korea unveils biggest extra budget plan to tackle COVID-19 outbreak

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South Korea unveiled the country’s biggest-ever supplementary budget plan Wednesday to tackle an economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The extra budget plan worth 35.3 trillion won (28.5 billion U.S. dollars) will be submitted to the National Assembly for approval, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

If approved, it would be the country’s largest-ever supplementary budget. The previous high was 28.4 trillion won (23 billion U.S. dollars) earmarked in 2009 to deal with the global financial crisis.

Of the total, 23.8 trillion won (19.2 billion U.S. dollars) will be financed through the issuance of government bonds, while the remaining 11.5 trillion won (9.3 billion U.S. dollars) will be funded through an adjusted fiscal expenditure.

Minister of Economy and Finance Hong Nam-ki, who doubles as deputy prime minister for economic affairs, told a press briefing that the COVID-19 outbreak roiled domestic demand, such as consumption and investment, as well as export and tourism coming from the global economic downturn.

Hong noted that the worsening of economic situations and the employment shock was coming into a clearer sight, explaining why the government drew up the third extra budget plan in 2020 alone.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

S.Korea reports 49 more COVID-19 cases, 11,590 in total

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South Korea reported 49 more cases of the COVID-19 compared to 24 hours ago as of 0:00 a.m. Wednesday local time, raising the total number of infections to 11,590.

The daily caseload stayed above 30 for three straight days due to small cluster infections from religious gatherings in the metropolitan area.

Of the new cases, three were imported from overseas, lifting the combined figure to 1,269.

One more death was confirmed, leaving the death toll at 273. The total fatality rate stood at 2.36 percent.

A total of 21 more patients were discharged from quarantine after making full recovery, pulling up the combined number to 10,467. The total recovery rate was 90.3 percent.

Since Jan. 3, the country has tested more than 956,000 people, among whom 917,397 tested negative for the virus and 27,865 are being checked.

(XINHUA)

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Health

FG to engage community volunteers for house-to-house sensitisation on COVID-19 – Minister

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The Federal Government is engage community volunteers on house-to-house sensitisation on the dangers and spread of COVID-19.

Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health, disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja, at the Presidential Taskforce (PTF), briefing on COVID-19.

The News Agency of Nigeria, reports that Nigeria currently has 10,578 confirmed CCOVID-19 cases in 35 States and FCT, of which 3,122 have been treated and discharged.

NAN reports that Nigeria recorded 299 deaths.

Ehanire said that the ministry was working with the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, (NPHCDA) to finalise plans on the engagement of existing community volunteers and agents to conduct house to house sensitisation on COVID-19 at the community level.

He said that this would be done in “high burden” Local Government areas of Nigeria, since about 20 LGAs contribute nearly 60 per cent of the COVID-19 positive cases.

The COVID-19 burden is, as we know not evenly distributed within the country, with Kano and Lagos bearing the highest burden.

“A team from the FMoH, led by the ED of NPHCDA and comprising doctors from Departments of Family Health, Hospital Services and Public Health and NCDC, is in Lagos on an appraisal visit, during which a situation analysis will be conducted.

“The team will also visit the contiguous Ogun State on the same mission. The visits are in continuation of similar useful initiatives in the past to Kano, Katsina Sokoto, Jigawa, Gombe, and Borno, to share experience and ideas, align strategy and support each other,” he said.

The minister said that the ministry would continue to advocate for states to strengthen their response activities and have begun a program to strengthen the capacity of all Federal Health Institutions in Nigeria to deal with COVID-19 challenges in their States by additional training, supplies and equipment.

He said that the Federal Medical Centre Lokoja and University of Calabar Teaching Hospital would be prioritized for the deployment of Gene Xpert machines as soon as the test kits were validated by the Medical Laboratory Science Council.

He said this so that residents in Kogi and Cross River, among others, would no longer have a shortage of opportunity to be tested.

“Our observation is that states are at varying levels of readiness and it is important to re-strategise to meet all citizens at their points of need.

COVID-19 is long since a global phenomenon affecting nearly all parts of the world.

“All nations are working together and I urge all State authorities in Nigeria to accept the reality and also work with each other and Federal Government, and play their part in the strategy to keep the people safe.

“This includes the decentralization that requires making a minimum of 300 Isolation beds ready, so that the national health system does not run out of COVID-19 bed spaces,” he said.

He, however said that as  the President advised that it was best to be fully prepared even if Nigerians do not have to use it.

“ In this regard, the FMOH stands ready to support all States in their efforts to build resilient and responsive systems for citizens in their States.

“The FCT, for example, is no longer under bed space pressure, having been well supported with assets to meet all levels of care, security and needs,” he said.

Ehanire said that there would therefore be no reason for a COVID-19 positive person to be outside a designated Isolation and Treatment centre, especially with the ThisDay Dome Isolation centre ready to take cases.

He noted that it would  be headed, in the introductory phase, by the Medical Director of Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, one of the most experienced virus disease hospitals in Nigeria.

He also said the FCT managed Idu COVID-19 treatment centre wih 500 beds ready.

He, however, said that the FMOH have conducted an analysis of Health Care Worker Infections and identified critical areas for targeted intervention, to include continuous updates and retraining.

More than 13,000 health workers have been trained, which will result in reduced rate of infection, especially in the line of duty. We are collaborating with States to cascade the training to lower cadre workers.

“A few weeks ago, I announced that Nigeria will participate in COVID-19 drug trial, which the WHO was leading but partly suspended.

“After consultation with top Nigerian scientists of the Ministerial Expert Advisory Committee, I am advised that Nigeria has something to add to the body of knowledge around these trials.

“I have therefore approved the continuation of the trial, as recommended, under strong precautionary conditions to be built into it,” he said.

According to him, the leadership of the Ministry also had the first briefing with the Ministerial Advisory Panel of Experts on Monday and received a series of very useful advisories that will be discussed and shared with Heads of Agencies and Departments of the Ministry.

“Finally, as we move into the next phase of easing of the lockdown, I urgently call on all, to take responsibility for ensuring that we actively play our role in ensuring that COVID-19 does not spike or bounce up, as has been observed in many countries where lockdown was relaxed.

“It is important to bear in mind that this phase, more than the lockdown itself, is in the hands of the people, more than in the hand of government.

“We must fight the spread of the disease by adhering more strictly than ever, to the various social guidelines which have been announced, published and publicized,” he advised.

He urged Nigerians to wear their face mask in the public, once they leave their house, or even inside their house, if they were  not sure of the COVID-19 status of people they  live with.

“Wear your mask on your face, not under your chin; it has no value under your chin.

“Be very sensitive about respiratory hygiene, wash hands regularly, use sanitizers and observe physical distancing. Open your windows to let in fresh air whenever it is safe to do so,” he said.


Edited By: Kamal Tayo /Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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Foreign

New Zealand reveals details for relaxed COVID-19 rules as country returning to normal

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Restrictions on businesses will be removed under COVID-19 Alert Level 1, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern explained the details on Wednesday as New Zealanders are seeing their lives returning to normal.

New Zealand reported no new case of COVID-19 for 12 consecutive days on Wednesday.

The decision to move down to Alert Level 1 will be made on June 8, Ardern said, adding it was possible that New Zealand could move down to Alert Level 1 by June 10.

Strict border controls will still remain, Ardern said, adding restrictions on hospitality businesses, gatherings and community sport will be lifted.

She said it is not necessary to consider physical distancing measures under Alert Level 1, but the government still encourages contact tracing efforts.

Ardern stressed coughing etiquette because risks remain as New Zealand heads into winter with more asymptomatic transmission.

New Zealand‘s combined total of confirmed and probable cases stayed at 1,504, Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told a press conference on Wednesday.

The total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 remains at 1,154, which is the number reported to the World Health Organization, Bloomfield said.

The number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 is unchanged at 1,481, he said, adding the situation was “hugely satisfying.”

The number of COVID-19 related deaths in New Zealand remained at 22, with no additional deaths, he said, adding there is no one in New Zealand receiving hospital-level care for COVID-19.

The NZ COVID Tracer app has now recorded 487,000 registrations, according to the health ministry.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Finland announces record-high supplementary budget to counteract COVID-19 impact

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The Finnish government on Tuesday announced a record-high supplementary budget of 5.5 billion euros (6.16 billion U.S. dollars) to counteract the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Finance Minister Katri Kulmuni said.

With this budget, the debt taken by the government this year increased to 18.8 billion euros (21.04 billion dollars), Kulmuni said at a press conference.

The government also decided to extend the target timing of stabilizing the ratio between public debt and gross domestic product from 2023 to 2030, Kulmuni said, adding that the longer time frame would ease the pressure.

The senior official said Finnish universities will be authorized to add 4,800 students to this year’s enrollment.

According to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland confirmed a total of 6,887 COVID-19 infections by Tuesday afternoon, with 320 virus-related deaths and at least 5,500 recoveries.

The country reopened restaurants and cafes on Monday, with opening hours shortened and capacity of service halved. The new restrictions are supposed to stay until the end of October.

(XINHUA)

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