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Interruption of immunization services putting tens of millions of children at risk: WHO chief

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The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday warned that the COVID-19 outbreak undermines life-saving immunization services around the world, putting tens of millions of children at risk.

Speaking at a virtual press conference from Geneva, the WHO chief said that as the world comes together to develop a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19, countries must not forget the dozens of lifesaving vaccines that already exist and must continue to reach children everywhere.

“Initial analysis suggests the provision of routine immunization services is substantially hindered in at least 68 countries and is likely to affect approximately 80 million children under the age of 1 living in these countries,” he said.

“Any suspension of childhood vaccination services is a major threat to life,” the WHO chief added.

He stressed that maintaining people’s trust in the ability of health systems to provide essential services safely is crucial to ensuring people continue to seek care when needed and follow public health advice.

According to him, the WHO will soon publish new guidance on implementing mass vaccination campaigns in the context of COVID-19.

“Since the turn of the century, child mortality has been halved in large part because of the power of safe and effective vaccination,” he said, adding that the WHO is working with governments around the world to ensure supply chains remain open and lifesaving health services are reaching all communities.

(XINHUA)

Economy

Maintenance: AEDC notifies power interruption in parts of Abuja, Kano

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The Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC),  says customers in parts of Central Area, Abuja will experience power interruption on Dec. 14 and 15 due to maintenance of its facility. .

AEDC’s General Manager, Coporate Communication, Mr 0yebode Fadipe said this in a statement in Abuja on Friday.

Fadipe said that the areas to be affected by the interruption  which would commence from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. include Wuse Zone 1-7, Maitama and some parts  of Kano.

He said that the interruption was to enable the Abuja Region of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) maintenance team in conjunction with AEDC undertake the replacement of a punctured 132 kilo Volt  XLPE cable on the Katampe – Central Area 132kV Line 1.

Fadipe  said  that the  scope of work had  been planned to last for three weekends in order to minimise the period of interruption of power supply to  customers within the affected areas.

“The decision to embark on the replacement of the cable is gratifying as it will engender improved service  to customers.

“Our customers who had hitherto been experiencing loadshedding can now look forward to longer hours of power supply after the replacement of the cable, which is situated at the back of the IBB Golf Course

“We appeal for patience and understanding of the affected customers as the replacement of the cable is expected to be completed on Dec. 29,” he said.

Edited by: Ese E. Ekama

(NAN)

 

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Agriculture

Lagos Water Corporation apologises to residents for interruption in supply

Water

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Lagos Water Corporation apologises to residents for interruption in supply

Water

By Chidinma Agu

Lagos, Dec. 11, 2018 (NNN) The Managing Director, Lagos Water Corporation, Mr Muminu Badmus, on Tuesday apologised to residents for the interruption in water supply in the state.

Badmus made this apology in a statement in Lagos.

According to the statement, the disruption is due to the epileptic power supply which affected water production at its major waterworks.

“The corporation is working relentlessly on alternative power supply to strengthen its operations.

“The general public should conserve water, save, store, and use water wisely, especially during this period,’’ it said.

The statement said that residents should continue to have trust in the corporation towards improved service delivery.

It reiterated that the corporation was committed to the provision of uninterrupted potable water supply for all throughout the state. (NNN)
ACA/PIO
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(Edited by Idonije Obakhedo)

 

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Foreign

UN Humanitarian expresses concern over interruption of aid to Borno IDPs

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Mr Edward Kallon, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria has expressed concern over interruption of aid delivery to thousands of Internally displaced Persons (IDPs) in Rann, Borno.

Mrs Samantha Newport, Head of Media and Communications UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) made this known in a statement on Friday in Abuja.

The statement noted that Kallon said the interruption in delivery of humanitarian assistance to Rann was a direct result of an attack on the military base on Jan. 14.

Kallon explained that the attack by the non-state armed group started at dusk and continued into the next day and at the time of the attack, an estimated 76,000 IDPs were living in Rann.

Kallon said that presently, Rann was inaccessible to international humanitarian organisations both by road and by air.

He said that during the attack, a medical clinic, warehouses with humanitarian supplies and accommodation for aid workers were looted and destroyed  while the market and shelters in the camp were also burned down.

“The attacks on Rann that are increasingly frequent are having a devastating impact on the civilians taking refuge in this isolated town.

“And severely affecting our ability to deliver life-saving aid to women, men and children in need.

“This attack has spread fear among the already vulnerable population, and humanitarian assets were also targeted.

“I urge the Government of Nigeria to protect civilians, including aid workers,” Mr. Kallon said.

He said that several civilian fatalities had also been reported, although the total number was not yet known and thousands had also been reported to have fled to Cameroon.

He said that 14 aid workers who were in Rann during the attack and able to hide were withdrawn the day after by helicopter.

Newport said that the conflict in North-East Nigeria now in its tenth year, had triggered massive displacement and caused a severe humanitarian crisis with more than seven million people in need.

“In addition to the attack in Rann, clashes in Kukawa and Monguno local government areas in northern Borno have forced more than 43,000 people to flee their homes since November.

“With more than 32,000 taking refuge in Maiduguri, the Borno capital.

`Many of these people are converging on already congested camps or sites for internally displaced people, forcing hundreds of individuals to sleep in overcrowded shelters or outside,’’ Newport said.

 

Edited by: Julius Toba Jegede
(NAN)

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Foreign

Zimbabwe’s Mnangagwa condemns riot police interruption of press event

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Police

Harare, Aug. 3, 2018Emmerson Mnangagwa, who narrowly won re-election as the president of Zimbabwe in

a poll followed by violence and political tension, has condemned a move by riot police to break up a

news conference held by his unsuccessful challenger, Nelson Chamisa.

“The scenes today at the Bronte Hotel [in Harare] have no place in our society and we are urgently

investigating the matter to understand exactly what happened,” Mnangagwa wrote on Twitter.

“Over the past nine months we have protected freedom of speech, of assembly and the right to criticise

the government,” he added, calling this “an indispensable part of the new Zimbabwe.”

“As many opposition supporters cry foul, Mnangagwa said: “We won the election freely and fairly, and

have nothing to hide or fear.

“Anyone is free to address the media at any time.”

Chamisa has questioned the outcome of Monday’s presidential election, in which he lost out to President

Emmerson Mnangagwa from the ruling Zanu-PF party.

Chamisa on Friday slammed the “fake results” of the country’s historic election that returned incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa to power.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s “scandal of releasing unverified fake results is regrettable,” the

40-year-old leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said on Twitter.

“ZEC denied our election agent access to results be4 announcement.ZEC must release proper & verified results

endorsed by parties,” Chamisa tweeted.

Results released overnight Thursday gave Mnangagwa 50.8 per cent of the vote and Chamisa 44.3 per cent.

While Mnangagwa welcomed the results and called for peace, Chamisa rejected the outcome outright.

“The level of opaqueness, truth deficiency, moral decay & values deficit is baffling,” the MDC leader said.

During the televised presentation of the results, Chamisa’s spokesman attempted to give a speech but was

heckled and booed offstage by locals who said they wanted to hear from the commission.

Harare – which voted heavily for Chamisa – was quiet Friday with no signs of celebration.

There had been an uneasy calm in the city since a brutal crackdown on protesters by security forces

on Monday, in which six people were killed.

The poll was the first in almost four decades without longtime leader Robert Mugabe on the ballot.

Mugabe, 94, had grown increasingly unpopular for his repressive rule and the country’s economic malaise.

He was ousted in a military coup in November and replaced by erstwhile ally Mnangagwa.

“This is a new beginning. Let us join hands, in peace, unity & love, & together build a new Zimbabwe

for all!” Mnangagwa tweeted after winning.

SH

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Science & Technology

Telecom operators give reasons for network interruption

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Telecom operators on Saturday blamed intermittent interruptions on network on vandalism of base stations, destruction of optic fibre,  high forex and shutting of base stations by government agencies.

The President of Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON),  Mr Olusola Teniola, made the attribution in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Lagos.

“There is a situation in the industry whereby the equipment to bring into the country to increase capacity is either delayed by government, or at the port, we are not given the right payment in time.

“Secondly, forex is high but the equipment price has not reduced, making it very difficult to sustain investment in increasing our network coverage and capacity.

”Vandalism, theft and sabotage of our base stations’ equipment, and base stations being shut down by different agencies demanding one tax after another do not help operators.

“We have incidents of optic fibre destruction,  which  impacts on traffic to be carried to and  from one location or city to another.

“”There is need for security operatives  to ensure that telecommunications equipment which is a critical national infrastructure is protected,” the ATCON president said.

He urged that the the Federal  Government should ease burden on service providers by expediting action on  issuance of relevant right of way permits for operators.

According to Teniola,  if all the issues affecting operators are resolved,  quality of service will improve.

The ATCON president said that interruption during festive periods resulted from heavy traffic associated with such periods.

He said that some operators still used equipment bought 10 years ago, calling on the government to encourage the operators by investing in telecom equipment.

“During festive period it seems that intermittent interruption is more because most of the calls are originating from Lagos to people that are living in the villages,  and the network capacity is not strong.

“There has not been any form of investment in equipment that will carter for additional traffic on the network since the past 10 years,  and this is not good for the industry.

“We need government to encourage us to bring in the needed equipment by investing in them and making forex available for operators,” he said.

(Edited by: Abdullahi Mohammed/Ijeoma Popoola)

()

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Foreign

France reports more than 28,500 coronavirus deaths

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France’s cumulative death toll from coronavirus infection rose by 73 or 0.3 per cent to 28,530 on Tuesday.

This is a similar rate of increase as the day before despite health authorities having resumed taking into account nursing home data after a four-day interruption.

In a statement, the Health Ministry said the number of fatalities was up 83 in hospitals, to 18,195.

But the death toll in nursing homes has been revised to 10,335, 10 fewer than the last time it was published.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Health

WHO recommends increased investments to avert mental health crisis

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for urgent need to increase investments in services for mental health toward averting surge in mental health conditions in the coming months.

Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, in a statement on Thursday, said the COVID-19 pandemic was highlighting the need to urgently increase investments in mental health services for the populace.

Ghebreyesus said the call was necessitated due to a policy brief on ‘COVID-19 and mental health’ issued by the United Nations.

He said that the impact of the pandemic on people’s mental health was extremely concerning.

“Social isolation, fear of contagion, and loss of family members is compounded by the distress caused by loss of income and often employment,” the director-general said.

According to him, reports already indicated an increase in symptoms of depression and anxiety in a number of countries.

“A study in Ethiopia, in April 2020, reported a three-fold increase in the prevalence of symptoms of depression compared to estimates from Ethiopia before the epidemic.

“Specific population groups are at particular risk of COVID-19 related psychological distress.

“Frontline healthcare workers, faced with heavy workloads, life-or-death decisions, and risks of infection, are particularly affected,” he said.

The health agency chief said that during the pandemic in China, healthcare workers reported high rates of depression as 50 per cent; anxiety 45 per cent, and insomnia 34 per cent.

He added that in Canada, 47 per cent of healthcare workers reported a need for psychological support.

“Children and adolescents are also at risk.

“Parents in Italy and Spain reported that their children had difficulties concentrating, as well as irritability, restlessness and nervousness.

“Stay-at-home measures have come with a heightened risk of children witnessing or suffering violence and abuse.

“Children with disabilities, children in crowded settings and those who live and work on the streets are particularly vulnerable,” he said.

Ghebreyesus noted that other groups that were at particular risk were women, particularly those who juggled home-schooling, working from home and household tasks.

He added that older people and people with pre-existing mental health conditions were also at risk.

“A study carried out with young people with a history of mental health needs living in UK, reports that 32 per cent of them agreed that the pandemic had made their mental health much worse.

“An increase in alcohol consumption is another area of concern for mental health experts.

“Statistics from Canada report that 20 per cent of 15 to 49 year-old, have increased their alcohol consumption during the pandemic,” the WHO chief said.

He maintained that the increase in people in need of mental health or psychosocial support had been compounded by the interruption to physical and mental health services in many countries.

“In addition to the conversion of mental health facilities into care facilities for people with COVID-19, care systems have been affected by mental health staff being infected with the virus and the closing of face-to-face services.

“Community services, such as self-help groups for alcohol and drug dependence, have, in many countries, been unable to meet for several months.

“It is now crystal clear that mental health needs must be treated as a core element of our response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a collective responsibility of governments and civil society, with the support of the whole United Nations System.

“A failure to take people’s emotional wellbeing seriously will lead to long-term social and economic costs to society,” Ghebreyesus said.

According to him, it is critical that people living with mental health conditions have continued access to treatment.

“Changes in approaches to provision of mental healthcare and psychosocial support are showing signs of success in some countries.

“In Madrid, when more than 60 per cent of mental health beds were converted to care for people with COVID-19, where possible, people with severe conditions were moved to private clinics to ensure continuity of care.

“Local policy-makers identified emergency psychiatry as an essential service to enable mental healthcare workers to continue outpatient services over the phone.

“Home visits were organised for the most serious cases.

“Teams from Egypt, Kenya, Nepal, Malaysia and New Zealand, among others, have reported creating increased capacity of emergency telephone lines for mental health to reach people in need,” Ghebreyesus said.

He added that support for community actions that strengthened social cohesion and reduced loneliness, particularly for the most vulnerable, such as older people, must continue.

“Such support is required from government, local authorities, the private sector and members of the general public, with initiatives such as provision of food parcels, regular phone check-ins with people living alone, and organisation of online activities for intellective and cognitive stimulation,” he said.

Also, Dr Dévora Kestel, Director, Department of Mental Health and Substance Use, WHO, said the scaling-up and reorganisation of mental health services that were needed globally was an opportunity to build a mental health system fit for the future.

“This means developing and funding national plans that shift care away from institutions to community services.

“This aims at ensuring coverage for mental health conditions in health insurance packages and building the human resource capacity to deliver quality mental health and social care in the community,” Kestel said.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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Sport

2019/2020 Bundesliga restarts amid pandemic

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The eyes of the sports world will be on Germany’s Bundesliga this weekend as it becomes the first “big league’’ to restart after the COVID-19 shutdown.

But little would have changed on the pitch with Bayern Munich hunting an eighth straight crown.

The German Football League decided last week to resume the first and second divisions from May 16 after a two-month suspension.

The teams will undergo a seven-day isolation period after testing for the new coronavirus.

Leaders Bayern Munich begin the final nine match days with a trip to Union Berlin on Sunday with Borussia Dortmund, four points behind the Bavarians, playing Schalke 04 a day earlier.

“The Bundesliga manages to become the first big league worldwide to restart,” Bayern Munich Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.

“And with the Bundesliga as the only league to be broadcast on TV, I expect we will have an audience of a billion,” he said on Wednesday.

Strict health regulations mean all games will be played in empty stadiums with only some 300 essential staff and officials in and around the arenas.

Players have been told not to spit, celebrate in groups, or touch hands with team mates.

Also, some clubs will use music and cardboard cutouts of fans to enhance the atmosphere at matches.

The league is desperate to complete the season by June 30 for contractual reasons.

The organisers say they are aware of the risk of another suspension if there are many positive virus cases among players.

It has already warned of the “existence-threatening” financial situation of several clubs due to the suspension and has warned another interruption would be disastrous for both league and teams.

The interruption has allowed the league’s top goalscorer, Robert Lewandowski, to recover from a leg injury.

It was an injury that would have ruled the Bayern Munich forward out of several matches had the season not been halted.

The Pole has been back fit for weeks and will look to pick up where he left off.

This means he can add to his 25 league goals as he chases the season record of 40 set by Gerd Mueller in 1972.

Borussia Dortmund, on 51 points, one ahead of RB Leipzig, have not given up on the title but will restart without injured captain Marco Reus.

Borussia Dortmund have the more difficult run-in and RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann hopes to give Bayern Munich a run for their money.

“If Bayern Munich are in top form then the title will be decided by them, especially when they have such a lead,” he said.

“But we will still try to win this nine-game tournament to create the theoretical conditions to end very high up.”

Borussia Moenchengladbach, fourth on 49 points, and Bayer Leverkusen, on 47 points, still have to play Bayern Munich.

But they look almost certain to battle it out for the fourth UEFA Champions League spot with Schalke 04 a further 10 points back in sixth.

At the other end of the table, Paderborn’s Bundesliga stint looks set to come to an end after one season.

They are last on 16 points, six off the relegation playoff spot occupied by Fortuna Duesseldorf.

The 2004 champions Werder Bremen, in 17th place on 18 points, will need to step up a gear if they are to avoid their second relegation since 1980.
OLAL

(
Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)

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Foreign

COVID-19 threatens progress against HIV/AIDS, UN warns

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The United Nations has warned that decades of progress made in the fight against are under threat as the world shifts attention to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The warning came on Monday through the Joint UN Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), dedicated to eradicating the disease by 2030, and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

They noted that disruptions to treatment could result in hundreds of thousands of HIV-related deaths.

Winnie Byanyima, the head of UNAIDS, said there was a risk that the “hard-earned gains of the AIDS response will be sacrificed to the fight against COVID-19”.

Byanyima pointed out that the right to health meant that no one disease should be fought at the expense of another.

“The COVID-19 pandemic must not be an excuse to divert investment from HIV,” the UNAIDS chief said.

A study by a group of experts convened by UNAIDS and WHO projects-six-months indicates disruption in antiretroviral therapy could lead to no fewer than 500,000 AIDS-related deaths in 2020–2021.

It warned that a break in response could also trigger a rise in tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “there is a heightened risk of turning the clock on AIDS-related deaths back to 2008” if action was not taken immediately.

“In 2018, no fewer than 470,000 people died of AIDS-related complications in Sub-Saharan Africa,” according to the organisation.

It said an estimated 25.7 million people were living with the virus, with 16.4 million on antiretroviral therapy.

“The terrible prospect of half a million more people in Africa dying of AIDS-related illnesses is like stepping back into history.

“Between closed HIV services, antiretroviral supply chain disruptions and overwhelmed services trying to support the competing COVID-19 response, those people now risk treatment interruptions.

“We must read this as a wake-up call to countries to identify ways to sustain all vital health services,” the WHO chief emphasised.

Ghebreyesus noted that some countries were already taking “important steps” to maintain their health services.

He said they were doing that by allowing people to collect bulk packs of therapies and other essential commodities, including self-testing kits. 

“We must also ensure that global supplies of tests and treatments continue to flow to the countries that need them,” he added.

 

Edited By: Angela Okisor/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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