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COVID-19: NYSC begins community sensitisation in Borno



The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Borno, says it has begun a community sensitisation to create awareness on safety and preventive measures against coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the state.

Mr Nura Umar, the NYSC State Coordinator, made the disclosure on Wednesday during the inauguration of the exercise at the Maiduguri GSM Market.

Umar said the exercise was designed to educate the people on the dangers associated with disease and how to stay safe.

He said the scheme was worried by the surge in confirmed cases of the virus and reiterated commitment to contribute, and complement the state government efforts to stem further spread of the pandemic.

“The management together with corps members believe that awareness creation on the disease will go a long way to contain it,” he said.

According to him, the exercise targeted communities with population density such as Maiduguri GSM market in view of the high influx of people who visited the market daily.

He urged the people to observe safety protocols, hand washing, use of sanitiser, wearing of face mask and social distancing.

“It is also important for the GSM marketers to station hand washing points to promote hygiene, while those involved in money transactions are encouraged to use hand gloves,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Borno State Ministry of Health had confirmed 233 cases of coronovirus, with 24 deaths and 89 discharged as at May 20.


Edited By: Moses Solanke/Rabiu Sani Ali (NAN)


COVID-19: Lagos, FCT, Kano, account for 64.2% of total cases, Nigeria records 11,166



The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Wednesday said that Lagos, FCT and Kano state accounted for  64.2per cent of the total number of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic recorded in the country, 

The NCDC, on its website, said as at June 3, it recorded 348 new cases bringing the total total number of infection in Nigeria now at 11,166.

The NCDC noted that Lagos recorded  5,440FCT 763, while Kano state  recorded 970, which amounted to 11,166, making the two states plus the FCT to account for 64.2 per cent of the total number of infection in the country.

According to the agency, 33 states accounts for 36 per cent of the total infection in the country.

The NCDC said that the new cases take the country’s total infections cases to 11166, out of which 3,329 have been treated and discharged with 7,522 active cases in the country.

According to the health agency’s report, 163 of the new cases were recorded in Lagos, 76 in the FCT and 23 in Ebonyi.

Other affected states were Rivers with 21 cases, Delta, Nasarawa and Niger with eight each, Enugu with six, five each in Bauchi, Edo, Ekiti, Ondo and Gombe, four in Benue, two in Ogun, and one each in Osun, Plateau, Kogi and Anambra.

The NCDC noted that 75 per cent of COVID-19 cases in the country have unknown sources of infection.

It said that this was normal for a respiratory virus and suggested ongoing community transmission in the country.

NAN reports that the health agency has said that for families with loved ones abroad or in another state, who have passed on due to complications from COVID-19, transporting the remains is a tough process.

The NCDC has developed a guide to ensure efficient transportation in compliance with regulations.

The interim guidance is based on what is currently known about COVID-19.

The virus is spreading through contact with contaminated respiratory droplets released when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or from contact with contaminated hands, surfaces or objects.

It said that Funeral directors and mortuary personnel were less likely to contract COVID-19 from deceased persons infected with the virus if they adopt appropriate infection control procedures and wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

The health agency said precautionary strategies should be used to minimise public health risks and to prevent further spread of the disease.

“Contact and droplet infection control precautions should be used when handling deceased bodies confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19.

Wear appropriate PPE at all times without contaminating environmental surfaces,” it added.

The NCDC noted that for transport and storage, the body must be placed and secured in a bag or wrapping in a manner that prevents leakage; double bagging may be required to achieve this.

“The body bag should be labelled COVID-19 – Handle with care. Avoid unnecessary manipulation of the body that may expel air or fluid from the lungs.

“Embalming of a body confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19 is not recommended,” it said.

It noted that family viewing of the deceased may occur; however, family members should avoid any contact with the body.

The agency stressed the need to maintain the recommended social distance from families and friends of the deceased.


Edited By: Felix Ajide (NAN)


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Retired Kenyan athletes to benefit from COVID-19 food relief




Retired Kenyan athletes who have been financially effected by the COVID-19 pandemic are set to benefit from a food relief program launched by the local Olympics committee on Wednesday.

The initiative, that was started with seed capital of over 500,000 shillings (4,700 United States dollars) by the National Olympics Committee of Kenya (NOCK), will initially target athletes who retired by 2004 and have competed for Kenya in the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and African Championships.

This is after the group was identified according to NOCK to be the “most vulnerable” by the spread of the coronavirus pandemic since Kenya declared its first case in mid-March.

“Food support has been identified as a critical priority need area of focus for the next three months. We want to give food support to retired athletes.

“After consultation, we felt food aid will be of greater assistance as we continue looking for other partners in this initiative,” the acting general secretary of NOCK, Francis Mutuku, said.

He added that a mobile phone contribution service number will be launched on Monday next week to enable the public to contribute towards cushioning needy athletes through the COVID-19 crisis.

The program is the latest relief effort targeted towards athletes in Kenya with active athletes starting to receive 95 dollars each from the Ministry of Sports kitty that rolled out last week as part of a state-run effort to alleviate the suffering brought by loss of income due to COVID-19.

The Olympic champion and world marathon record holder, Eliud Kipchoge, has been distributing relief food to athletes in the vast and talent-rich Rift Valley for three weeks now.

“Many people have lost their relatives due to the virus and I want to ask them to take heart at this trying moment. Countries have lost many people and we are experiencing worse situations but it will come to pass,” said Kipchoge, the first man to run the 42.195km marathon distance in under two hours.

The food rations donated by Kipchoge, in addition to the government stimulant fund, have benefitted the likes of Beijing 2008 Paralympics star, Abraham Tarbei, who won gold medals in the 1,500 meters T46 and 5,000 meters T46 as he continues to train in isolation in Kaptagat, western Kenya.


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S.Korea reports 39 more COVID-19 cases, 11,629 in total




South Korea reported 39 more cases of the COVID-19 compared to 24 hours ago as of 0:00 a.m. Thursday local time, raising the total number of infections to 11,629.

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

Of the new cases, six were imported from overseas, lifting the combined figure to 1,275.

No more death was confirmed, leaving the death toll at 273. The total fatality rate stood at 2.35 percent.

A total of 32 more patients were discharged from quarantine after making full recovery, pulling up the combined number to 10,499. The total recovery rate was 90.3 percent.

Since Jan. 3, the country has tested more than 973,000 people, among whom 934,030 tested negative for the virus and 28,199 are being checked.


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Interview: Insufficient COVID-19 testing for United States public contributes to high death toll, says expert




A lack of sufficient testing for the presence of COVID-19 in the general public might be one of the major reasons for the large number of deaths in the United States, a leading medical expert has said.

The United States has suffered the most from the pandemic around the world, with over 1.84 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and a death toll of more than 107,000 as of Wednesday.

“Without greater monitoring and testing, it is difficult to properly control the spread of the novel coronavirus infection. Simply testing individuals with suspected infection and first responder health care personnel is inadequate to provide the protection and means to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” Kent Pinkerton, professor of pediatrics from the School of Medicine at the University of California, Davis, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

“This is particularly troublesome with some active carriers and shedders of COVID-19 who are completely asymptomatic,” he added.

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least a third of COVID-19 patients are asymptomatic. About 40 percent of transmission occurred prior to symptom onset.

Pinkerton said although measures taken for stay-in-shelter mandates around the country have helped to flatten the curve of infection, many areas continue to see no reduction in the incidence of infection.

To lighten these mandates without the proper use of personal protective equipment could be associated with a future resurgence of COVID-19 in the United States, he noted.

According to Pinkerton, the major challenges ahead in controlling the spread of the pandemic are patience on the part of the U.S. public and the development of an efficacious vaccine for protection against COVID-19.

Experts are worried that the nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd, an African American man who died last week while in police custody, may result in new outbreaks.

“Based on the way the disease spreads, there is every reason to expect that we will see new clusters and potentially new outbreaks moving forward,” said United States Surgeon General Jerome Adams.

Coronavirus testing sites in many locations have been closed due to unrest.

Since most people who are infected with the coronavirus develop symptoms within 14 days of being infected and can spread the disease days before they feel sick, the window to get tested and avoid infecting others is small.

“The impact of the ongoing protests on COVID-19 case counts may be revealed in about two weeks,” Zhang Zuofeng, professor of epidemiology and associate dean for research with the school of public health at University of California, Los Angeles, told Xinhua.


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French gov’t launches contact-tracing smartphone app “StopCOVID”




Photo taken on June 3, 2020 shows the contact-tracing smartphone app “StopCOVID” on a mobile phone in Paris, France. French government launched on June 2 “StopCOVID,” a contact-tracing smartphone app that could warn people voluntarily using it if they come into contact with a COVID-19 carrier. (Xinhua/Gao Jing)

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Spotlight: United States Fed likely to offer more guidance on rates next week amid COVID-19 fallout




The United States Federal Reserve is likely to provide more guidance at its policy meeting next week to signal intentions to keep interest rates near zero for a few years so as to help the economy get through the COVID-19 pandemic, according to several economists.

“One deliverable that we should be able to count on at the June meeting is the return of the Summary of Economic Projections (SEP),” Jay H. Bryson, acting chief economist at Wells Fargo Securities, wrote Monday in a report.

“We suspect that may open the door to implicit forward guidance, a tool heralded by policymakers before the current crisis as a primary mechanism for influencing policy,” he said.

The Fed usually releases the quarterly SEP four times each year, which lays out Fed officials’ expectations about growth, inflation, unemployment and short-term interest rates. But the central bank didn’t release the SEP in March as the evolving COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible for Fed officials to offer reliable economic forecasts.

The upcoming Fed meeting next Tuesday and Wednesday likely will include the first update to the SEP since December last year, according to Bryson.

“Rather than provide explicit forward guidance, committee members could implicitly signal that the fed funds rate is unlikely to increase through at least 2022 through changes in the dot plot,” Bryson said, referring to Fed officials’ individual forecasts of the federal funds rate.

“While the market reaction from such a move would likely be relatively small given that this appears to be the market’s base case scenario, it would at least reinforce the idea,” he said.

Roberto Perli, a former Fed staffer and now head of global policy research at Cornerstone Macro, also expected the SEP to show that Fed officials would not want to raise rates before 2022.

In Bryson‘s view, any changes to the Fed’s projections for federal funds rate over the longer run will be more important. “If the median projection for the longer-run fed funds rate falls precipitously, this could be a more material form of forward guidance,” he said.

Ryan Sweet, an economist with Moody’s Analytics, believed that the central bank is leaning toward an outcome-based forward guidance, similar but not identical to that used in the last recession.

“This time around, we anticipate that the Fed will use forward guidance that commits to delay the liftoff from the effective lower bound until full employment and 2% (inflation target) have been achieved,” Sweet wrote Monday in a note.

If the Fed adopted this approach to forward guidance, it would be dovish, requiring meeting both an employment threshold and an inflation threshold, rather than just one or the other,” he said.

The Fed cut interest rates to near zero at two unscheduled meetings in March and began purchasing massive quantities of U.S. treasuries and agency mortgage-backed securities to repair financial markets. It also unveiled new lending programs to provide up to 2.3 trillion U.S. dollars to support the economy in response to the pandemic.

The United States Commerce Department reported last week that economic activity in the first quarter contracted at an annual rate of 5 percent in a second estimate, 0.2 percentage point lower than the advance estimate.

That downwardly revised figure, however, still does not fully capture COVID-19‘s economic damage, and many analysts believe that the decline in the second quarter is expected to be much deeper.

The fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic will shrink the size of the United States economy by 7.9 trillion dollars over the next decade, according to new projections released by the Congressional Budget Office on Monday.


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Turkey’s aquarium boosts hygiene measures against COVID-19




Turkey’s largest thematic aquarium in Istanbul has boosted its measures on hygiene and public safety after it was reopened on Monday.

“We strictly apply the rules, which were advised by the country’s Scientific Board, to offer our visitors a safe tour,” Dilek Capanoglu, director of the aquarium, told Xinhua on Wednesday.

“Visitors are first welcomed at the entrance of the venue by a couple of fully equipped security officials who take their temperatures,” she said, noting that wearing masks is also mandatory in the venue.

“Signs, which remind the social distancing rule, can be seen in every 1.5 meters,” Capanoglu added. “So, everyone knows where to stand safely.”

The Istanbul Aquarium, home to nearly 17,000 land and sea creatures, reopened its doors to visitors on Monday in line with the country’s relaxing of the pandemic restrictions after being closed for over two months.

“During the quarantine period, our personnel continued to work to feed and care the residents of our aquarium, including sharks and penguins,” Capanoglu also said.

The aquarium, one of the biggest ones in the world, lures millions of visitors each year, offering them a wide range of activities, including diving with sharks and fish feeding.


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COVID-19: Oyo activates 3 community testing sites



The Oyo State Task Force  on COVID-19 on Wednesday activated three sites for COVID-19 samples collection in different communities in Ibadan.

The News Agency of Nigera reports that the community testing initiative was intended to accommodate  about 10,000 samples.

The community testing drive which was supervised by Dr Wasiu Olatunbosun, the state Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, began at the Alegongo Primary School, Lagelu West Local Council Development Area, Ibadan.

Olatubosun said that the community testing was free, and encouraged Oyo people to get tested when the team would reach their communities.

Gov. Seyi Makinde’s administration believes that the health of the citizenry is paramount and that government would pursue with vigour, its commitment to the sound health of the citizenry.

“We are treating this as an emergency; no amount spent by government on this is a waste.

”We believe the citizenry will contribute meaningfully to the productivity  of the state and, invariably, increase the gross domestic product of the state when they are healthy; by so doing, it will improve the economy of the state further.

“That is the reason we are doing everything possible to make sure that the people have access to medical care, most especially against anything that has to do with COVID-19,” he said.

He said that the task force started with selective testing and later engaged in Drive-Through/Walk-Through Testing at Adamasingba, where it advised the  people to drive in and  get tested.

“But we are reaching a stage where we have to go to the community, and that is why we are decentralising testing, which we call community testing.

“We are now moving to communities, local government areas. where we have encouraged people from all the communities to come out and get  tested.

“The essence of this is that we cannot sit down somewhere and be assessing people.

In figures, Oyo State is rated fourth  or fifth but we have tested far more than many states.

“We are doing this to have adequate and exact data to work with and arrest the spread of the virus from the community level,” the commissioner said.

The Incident Manager of the state’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), Dr Taiwo Ladipo, said that the community testing drive was the response of the State COVID-19 Task Force to the rising number of cases in the state.

We have 10 facilities across 10 local government areas and are targeting 10,000 people, but we are starting with three LGAs today.

These  are Ibadan South East, Ibadan Oluyole and Lagelu,” Ladipo said.

Edited By: Tayo Ikujuni (NAN)Ijeoma Popoola

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Tunisia’s COVID-19 cases rise to 1,087 with 49 deaths




Tunisian Ministry of Health on Wednesday announced one more COVID-19 death, bringing the total deaths in the country to 49.

A 70-year-old woman had passed away on Tuesday in Metlaoui in Gafsa governorate following her infection with COVID-19.

The country recorded one new case, bringing the number of the total COVID-19 cases to 1,087.

A total of 965 recoveries have been recorded.

The Tunisian government has imposed strict confinement measures shortly after the announcement of the first coronavirus case on March 2.

The North African country has received several batches of medical aid from the Chinese government, Chinese foundations and companies since late March to help its fight against the pandemic.


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