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SuperStar Gemini cruise ship and SuperStar Aquarius cruise ship used as temporary dormitory for migrant workers

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Crew members wearing face shield perform their duties as food server aboard the SuperStar Gemini cruise ship berthed at Singapore’s Marina Bay Cruise Centre on May 23, 2020. SuperStar Gemini cruise ship together with SuperStar Aquarius cruise ship, are used as temporary dormitory for migrant workers who have recovered from COVID-19 infection. (Photo by Then Chih Wey/Xinhua)

Olawale Olukoga: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

General news

Eid-el-Fitri: Mararaba residents celebrate amidst COVID-19 pandemic 

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Muslims in Mararaba celebrated the end of  Ramadan fast with enthusiasm, as they besieged relaxation centres inspite of the physical distancing directive of government, to curb the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Some of them who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria , on Monday, said that the month of Ramadan, also known as Islam’s third pillar of faith,  is a month of mercy, and Muslims were expected to fast, give charity and be mindful of their way of life.

Nofisat Osho, a resident of Mararaba, said that although this year’s Ramadan fast was a bit different due to the novel Coronavirus pandemic, she was able complete the fast with the help of Allah.

“It wasn’t easy carrying out the fast and it felt different because of the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world for months now.

“I missed five days because I was “un-pure” during the fasting period, but I give thanks to Allah for the completion of the month of Ramadan.

“Pregnant women, women on their monthly periods, the sick and children are the only people allowed to miss the fast.

Hassan Jubril, also a faithful, said Allah’s mercy and peace was sought for by Muslims all over the world during the month of Ramadan and in his opinion, the month of Ramadan was the best month of the year.

Jubril said that he spent his time praying in the mosque and giving  charity to the poor and needy, as he expects the almighty Allah to reach out to them too.

Aisha Musa, also a resident of Mararaba, said she was really happy for witnessing the end of the Ramadan inspite of the Coronavirus pandemic,  as she vehemently offered her prayers to Allah with great expectations.

“I am really happy that the Ramadan has come and gone regardless of the pandemic, it has really been smooth and drawn me closer to Allah,” she added.

Fatima Abdullahi, another believer, said she missed the fast for nine days but hopes to complete the fast after the festive period.

“Although I missed the fast for nine days, Ramadan is really a month of dedication and must be obeyed, I hope to complete the fast after the Sallah (Muslim festival),” she said.

Hamza Yusuf, a Muslim faithful, who was visiting in Mararaba, said that that Ramadan was indeed a beautiful month for all Muslims and the period in which the Holy Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad.

“Ramadan is a beautiful month for all Muslims around in the world. It is the third pillar of Islam.

Yusuf, however, added that the pandemic restricted them from many things like going to the mosque to pray and attending lectures, but they had to obey government directives on physical distancing  and stayed at home to pray.

“Due to this current situation, we had to stay home and stay safe because of this COVID -19 pandemic.

“Islam admonishes us to stay home if there is an outbreak of disease.

“However, one of the things we missed due to this lockdown is going to the masjid (mosque) and some Islamic lectures we normally attend.

“But we have stayed at home, and also prayed for this pandemic to end,” he added.

The News Agency of Nigeria , reports that the 30 days fast has its unique significance.

The first 10 days of the fast is for seeking the forgiveness of Allah, the second 10 days is for the blessings of Allah and the last 10 days is for freedom.

The search for the night of majesty (Lailatul Qadri) is believed that prayers are answered quickly and the heavens are opened as requests are answered by Allah.

The Muslim faithful are  expected to fast for the whole month (29-30) days.

The fast, however, begins at the sighting  of the moon and ends at the sighting of the moon, it is called the month of mercy.

The moon indicates the beginning of a new month.

Muslims are expected to practice good habits, reach out to the needy, read and assimilate the Quran, so as to continue in good deeds after the fast.

Edited By: Abiodun Esan/Ifeyinwa Omowole (NAN)

 

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General news

COVID-19: NRC working out guidelines of operations to contain spread

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The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC)  is working  out new guidelines of operations  to help to contain the spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Director  of Operations of NRC, Mr Niyi Alli,  made the disclosure  in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Monday.

“We are working out modalities on how to operate because train is the largest means of transportation in commuting people from one state to another.

Alli, however, said that train operations nationwide would not restart  until  lifting of the ban on interstate travel.

“Although the corporation has lost much finances,  the safety of our customers remain paramount,” he said.

NAN reports that  there has been  ban on interstate travels  since May 4, in an effort to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

“We  cannot commence Mass Transit Train Service until interstate travel ban is lifted.

“We have been receiving calls and messages from our esteemed customers to commence operations but we cannot flout  the order banning  on interstate travels.

“The Federal Government is our employer; we have to help to contain the spread of this pandemic ravaging the world,” he said.

Alli appealed  to commuters to be patient until the  lifting of the ban on interstate travel.

Edited By: Vivian Ihechu/Ijeoma Popoola (NAN)

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Foreign

Yemeni gov’t confirms 11 new COVID-19 cases, 233 in total 

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The number of people infected with the novel coronavirus in the Yemeni provinces controlled by the government has increased to 233 as health authorities confirmed 11 new cases on Monday.

According to a brief statement released by the country’s Health Ministry, “during the past 24 hours, 11 new cases were officially recorded in three provinces controlled by the government.”

The war-torn Arab country recorded also two more deaths among the people being treated for COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 44 in the Yemeni areas under the control of the government.

The pro-government health authorities said that the number of recoveries has increased 10 since the outbreak of coronavirus on April 10.

The Yemeni government has taken several measures to contain the outbreak of COVID-19, including imposing a partial overnight curfew in Aden and other major cities under its control.

The government called on donors and relevant international humanitarian organizations to provide support to help contain the pandemic.

Yemen has been mired in a civil war since late 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthi group seized control of much of the country’s north and forced the internationally-recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi out of Sanaa.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Online child sexual abuse in Philippines triple during COVID-19 lockdown

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The Philippine justice department on Monday reported a steep upswing in online child sexual abuse cases while the country was under lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Citing data by a private organization National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Cybercrime said 279,166 child sexual abuse cases have been reported from March 1 to May 24 this year, compared to 76,561 cases over the same period in 2019.

The cases of internet-based sexual exploitation of children this year was an increase of 264 percent, the DOJ added.

“The aforesaid increase is attributable to the fact that during the enhanced community quarantine, strict home quarantine is observed in all households, and internet usage surges as people stay home,” the DOJ said in a statement.

The Philippines has been under lockdown since mid-March due to the rise of COVID-19 cases.

The DOJ blamed the increase in online sexual abuse on the failure of internet service providers (ISPs) or telecommunication companies to remove access to forms of online sexual exploitation of children.

Philippine Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete stressed the need for internet service providers to install available technology, program, or software to ensure that access to or transmittal of any form of child pornography will be blocked or filtered.

(XINHUA)

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Politics

Relocate dry dock to N’Delta, UNDEDSS, PANDEF urge FG

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The Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and the United Niger Delta Energy Development Security Strategy (UNDEDSS) have urged the Federal Government to relocate the Mega Dry Dock from Lagos waters to the Niger Delta region.
The two organisations stated this at a special webinar meeting, organised on Monday in Lagos, to mark to mark the 93rd birthday of the PANDEF Leader, Chief Edwin Clark.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the meeting was aimed at x-raying the Niger Delta economy after the COVID-19 lockdown.
According to the Niger Delta leaders, the dock, which is described as the largest in Africa, will be the ideal enterprise for President Muhammadu Buhari to inaugurate in the postCOVID -19 Nigerian economy.
They said that the dry dock, specifically designed for the region, had been lying unused in the Lagos waters.
A statement issued by Mr Tony Uranta, the UNDEDSS Executive Secretary and General Secretary of PANDEF, said that the benefits of the dock to the region would be immeasurable, considering the Maritime University in Delta.
“Relocating the Dry Dock project to the Niger Delta will be the biggest investment in the Niger Delta, postCOVID-19, and will open up the economy of the region,” he said.
NAN recalls that the House of Representatives had, in March, urged the Federal Government and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to return the floating dock, acquired at a cost of over N50bn to Okerenkoko, Delta.
The House had also called for the installation of the floating dock at Okerenkoko, the location that was said to have been decided upon by government as the operational base of the maritime facility.
It had urged NIMASA to abide by all the terms and conditions precedent to the acquisition of the dock, with a view to ensuring that it was put into operation in Okerenkoko.
NAN recalls that the dock had, since its arrival in the country on June 11, 2018, been in a storage cart, owing to alleged bureaucratic wrangling over its location as its operational base.
The statement stated that the project was duly considered and approved by the Federal Executive Council at its 37th meeting on Oct. 23, 2013, adding that the approval was conveyed to the Federal Ministry of Transport on Oct. 29, 2013.
“The location of the dry dock to Badagry in Lagos State is contrary to the initial approval by the Federal Government for its location in Delta.
“Our appeal is that the dry dock be moved permanently, installed and inaugurated in Delta, considering the contributions of the region to the nation’s economy.
“The dry dock is lying fallow in the waters of Lagos State and should be taken to Delta, next to the Maritime University, to provide practical knowledge to the students.
“The dock, if located in the Niger Delta, will open up the region and make it more viable, including the employment it will generate and the trainings on ship building processes,” he said.
Uranta said that the meeting had set up a committee, headed by Prof. Utomi, to look at its institutions, state leaderships and contributions of its elected members in the National Assembly to the development of the region.
“We are going to begin to study, more rigorously, the daily records of how many bills promoted by the region’s representatives at the national assembly.
“Our focus will also be on state governments in the region and their ministries, to ascertain the utilisation of statutory funds to cut down corruption,” he said.
Uranta quoted the meeting as appealing for more palliatives to the region in order to keep it robust and assist the people whose lands were no longer viable for farming due to excavations and explorations.
He said that the region had remained the cash cow for the country, pointing out that while oil prices had crashed, gas prices had risen.
Uranta reiterated the groups’ position, supporting the audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC), as ordered by the Federal Government and cleansing of the Ogoni land oil spills.
He also quoted the groups as urging the governors of the region to step up action for internal security of their respective states.

Edited by ‘Wale Sadeeq

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General news

Train operations cannot commence until inter-state travel ban is lifted — NRC

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The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) says train operations nationwide cannot commence until the ban on interstate travel occasioned by COVID-19  pandemic is lifted by Federal Government.

Mr Niyi Alli, NRC Director of Operations, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Monday.

NAN reports that federal government had on April 28 announced a ban on interstate travels with effect from May 4, 2020 due to the spread of corona virus.

“We cannot commence operations of Mass Transit Train Service (MTTS) until interstate travel ban is lifted by the Federal Government,’’ he said.

Alli said that NRC was working out new acceptable guidelines of operation in order to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

”We are working out modalities on how to operate because the train is the largest means of transportation in commuting people from one state to another.

”Although the corporation has lost so much financially but the safety of our customers remain paramount.

“We have been receiving calls, messages from our esteemed customers to commence operations but we cannot flout the federal government law on interstate travel ban.

“The federal government is our employer, we have to work with them to contain the spread of this pandemic ravaging the world,” he said.

The NRC boss said that the Lagos to Kano train service runs through many states while Abuja runs to Kaduna and vice versa; Lagos to Ojoko also goes from lddo to Ijoko in Ogun.

Alli said that the Eid-el-Fitri celebration is one of the peak periods of the Mass Transit Train Service but the lockdown has kept business still.

The NRC boss, however, apologised to the esteemed train customers to bear with the corporation while waiting for the government to lift the ban on interstate travel.

Alli also noted that freight services in the port were still in progress.

Edited By: Vivian Ihechu/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Agriculture

Smallholder women farmers raise alarm over maize infestation

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Smallholder women farmers in some local government areas of Oyo State have raised alarm over maize infestation which may lead to shortage of maize in 2020 as planting season starts.

The News Agency of Nigeria correspondent who visited farms in Ibadan and Ibarapa areas of the state reports that farmers are battling to control the situation amidst loss of revenue occasioned by COVID-19.

Recounting her experience, Mrs Mujidat Jolaoye, a smallholder farmer at Iyana Offa in the state said that most of her maize plantations had been ravaged by a strange insect that destroyed the flowery part of the maize.

According to her, it is the floral part that grows to become maize cob and once that part is destroyed then the whole harvest is lost.

“The maize plant will eventually die once it gets infected by the insect, and it keeps spreading from one plant to another.

“We need to spray the maize plant with pesticides but the coronavirus outbreak has prevented us from having money to buy the necessary chemicals to stop the infestation,” she said.

Jolaoye, however, called on the government to come to the aid of smallholder farmers in addressing their challenges so that there could be food security in the country.

Also, Mrs Funmilayo Olaniran, another smallholder farmer in Igboora, said that a particular insect had been destroying most farmers’ maize plantations.

She noted that only those who sprayed their farmers with pesticides as and when due were exempted from the ongoing maize infestation.

“Even those who sprayed their farms with pesticides two weeks after planting and are unable to continue applying the chemical are affected.

“This is very discouraging at this time when farmers are grappling with the effects of lockdown on their business.

“It is only God that can save us from the impending danger this portends for our nation,” she said.

Olaniran, however, appreciated the Federal Government for various incentives for farmers at this time, adding that it would go a long way if it gets to smallholder women farmers who were in dire need of such relief at this time.

She also urged the state government to take a cue from the Federal Government and provide a stimulus package for farmers with a particular attention on smallholder women farmers.

Edited By: Kayode Olaitan (NAN)

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Foreign

ADB approves 20 mln USD loan to support Laos’ emergency response to COVID-19

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved on Monday a 20-million-U.S.-dollar loan to support Laos’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lao News Agency (KPL) reported on Monday.

The loan, as additional financing to the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Health Security Project, will assist the Lao Ministry of Health in procuring personal protective equipment, laboratory equipment, testing kits, medical devices, and ambulances.

It will also help the Lao government provide supplies and training to frontline health workers on infection prevention and control, lab testing, and clinical care for COVID-19 patients. It will also cover the government’s costs for contact tracing, risk communications, and other interventions.

“The additional financing will boost the resources and capacity of the Lao PDR’s health system to address the impacts of the pandemic,” the KPL quoted ADB Health Specialist Ye Xu as saying in a press release.

“The Lao PDR has been managing the outbreak relatively well, thanks to improved communicable disease surveillance and response capacity over the last decade. It still needs to maintain maximum preparedness and strengthen the health care service system to be able to respond to any resurgence of COVID-19,” said the health specialist.

As of Monday, Laos reported 19 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with evidence of limited local transmission.

The country is highly vulnerable, as the outbreak in the region forces many migrant workers to return from heavily affected neighboring countries. The health system, with limited medical personnel, supplies, and equipment, could be overwhelmed by the rapid spread of the virus, said the KPL report.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Tea industry in northeast India to suffer loss of 284 million USD in revenue

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NEW DELHI, May 25 (Xinhua)– The tea industry in two northeast Indian states, West Bengal and Assam, is expected to suffer a loss in revenue of more than Rs 2100 crore (about 284 million U.S. dollars) based on last year’s North India auction prices,” the Indian Tea Association (ITA) said on Monday.

ITA said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, tea production has dipped by a whopping 65 percent in the past two months.

“Based on feedback received from ITA member gardens, it is estimated that in Assam and West Bengal, the total loss in production for the months of March, April and May would be around 140 million kg,” it said.

“The outbreak of COVID-19 has further aggravated the financial stress of the tea industry. While input costs in the last five years have increased a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 7 to 10 percent, the growth in prices has been only one percent, resulting in a large number of tea estates incurring losses,” it added.

The industry has urged the Indian Commerce Ministry as well as the State Governments of Assam and West Bengal to extend a financial package to the tea sector in terms of interest subvention and relief in payment of electricity charges and etc.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Maldives to draft responding policy as COVID-19 cases rise to 1,395

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The government of the Maldives said it will draft a responding policy as the country’s total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rose to 1,395, local media reported here Monday.

Minister of Health Abdulla Ameen was quoted in state-owned Public Service media saying that a policy is being formulated in consultation with healthcare workers on how to govern the country in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister Ameen said the experiences of the lockdown enforced on the capital region of Greater Male since April 15 will influence policy. The policy will include regulations on opening hours of private health operators as well as the establishment of a medical response team to evaluate patients before they are admitted to the hospital.

The COVID-19 has strained the healthcare system of the Maldives, Ameen said, emphasizing the need for decentralization. The government plans to create tertiary hospitals in five regions of the island as part of a long-term plan to provide trained healthcare workers to all regions.

These new hospitals will be equipped with laboratories, x-ray rooms, and ultrasound scanning facilities, with a total of 19 OPD consultation rooms, six private rooms, three ICU beds, three NICU beds, two operation theatres, and eight wards with twelve beds each.

Meanwhile, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) said 24 additional COVID-19 cases were recorded as of 4:30 p.m. local time on Thursday including four Maldivians, 18 Bangladeshis and two Indians.

A total of 144 people have recovered from COVID-19 in the Maldives with four deaths reported so far.

(XINHUA)

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Health

COVID-19: WHO advises on healthy diets

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Eating healthy diet is important during the COVID-19 pandemic as food and drink can affect the body’s ability to prevent, fight and recover from infections, says the World Health Organisation (WHO).

WHO said this in a statement on Monday from Geneva.

It said that no food or dietary supplements can prevent or cure COVID-19 infection, adding that healthy diets are important for supporting immune systems.

“Good nutrition can also reduce the likelihood of developing other health problems, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer,” it said.

WHO said that for babies, a healthy diet means exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months, with the introduction of nutritious and safe foods to complement breastmilk from six months to two years and beyond.

“For young children, a healthy and balanced diet is essential for growth and development. For older people, it can help to ensure healthier and more active lives,” it said.

The health agency gave tips for maintaining a healthy diet, stressing that consumption of variety of food, including fruits and vegetables was nutritious.

“Every day, eat a mix of wholegrains like wheat, maize and rice, legumes like lentils and beans, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, with some foods from animal sources like meat, fish, eggs and milk.

“Choose wholegrain foods like unprocessed maize, millet, oats, wheat and brown rice when you can; they are rich in valuable fibre and can help you feel full for longer.

“For snacks, choose raw vegetables, fresh fruit, and unsalted nuts,” it said.

It advised that salt intake should be reduced, adding that it should be limited to five grammes, equivalent to a teaspoon a day.

WHO advised that moderate amounts of fats and oils should be eaten, saying that replace butter, ghee and lard with healthier fats like olive, soy, sunflower or corn oil when cooking.

“Choose white meats like poultry and fish which are generally lower in fats than red meat; trim meat of visible fat and limit the consumption of processed meats.

“Select low-fat or reduced-fat versions of milk and dairy products; and avoid processed, baked and fried foods that contain industrially produced trans-fat.

“Try steaming or boiling instead of frying food when cooking,” it said.

WHO added that intake of sweets and sugary drinks such as fizzy drinks, fruit juices, liquid and powder concentrates, flavoured water, energy and sports drinks, ready-to-drink tea and coffee and flavoured milk drinks should be limited.

“Choose fresh fruits instead of sweet snacks such as cookies, cakes and chocolate. When other dessert options are chosen, ensure that they are low in sugar and consume small portions.

“Avoid giving sugary foods to children. Salt and sugars should not be added to complementary foods given to children under two years of age, and should be limited beyond that age,” it said.

The health agency advised that people should stay hydrated by drinking enough water, adding that good hydration was crucial for optimal health.

“Drinking water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages is a simple way to limit your intake of sugar and excess calories,” it said.

It advised people to avoid hazardous and harmful alcohol use, stressing that alcohol was not part of healthy diet.

“Drinking alcohol does not protect against COVID-19 and can be dangerous,” it warned.

WHO maintained that frequent or excessive alcohol consumption increases immediate risk of injury, as well as causing longer-term effects like liver damage, cancer, heart disease and mental illness.

“There is no safe level of alcohol consumption,” it said.

Edited By: Folorunso Poroye/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Sport

Woods, Manning beat Mickelson, Brady in charity match

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Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning held off a late challenge to beat Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady 1Up in a charity golf match in Florida on Sunday that raised $20 million for COVID-19 relief efforts.

Woods, a 15-time major champion, and two-time Super Bowl winner, Manning, jumped out to a three-hole lead on the front nine at the Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound.

While Woods’s booming drives and Manning’s solid putting saw the pair dominate the early holes, five-time major winner, Mickelson, and Brady won the 11th and 14th to shave the lead to one.

However, they were unable to force extra holes after Woods delivered a dagger putt on 18 as darkness descended on his home course.

The shot of the day came from Brady on the seventh when he holed out from the fairway just after NBA great Charles Barkley, working as a commentator, had been giving the quarterback a hard time for his ice cold start.

“Shut your mouth, Chuck,” Brady said with a smile.

But Brady, who joined Tampa Bay in March after 20 years with New England, had little time to revel in the moment.

After giving a short speech where he told his wife and kids he loved them, the six-times Super Bowl winner then split the seat of his pants while retrieving the ball from the cup.

Woods, who lost to Mickelson in a $9 million winner-take-all challenge in 2018, congratulated Manning and Brady for their performance in the team match play event, dubbed The Match: Champions for Charity.

“We all came together and were able to raise $20 million for those that have been so severely affected,” Woods said.

“I take my hat off to Tom and Peyton. This is our arena, this is what we do for a living. I couldn’t imagine going on the field and do what they do,” he added with a laugh.

The competition comes 2-1/2 weeks before the PGA Tour plans to resume its season on June 11 at Colonial.

Woods last competed in February and then withdrew from a number of tournaments with a back injury before the PGA Tour decided to cancel a slew of events because of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

He has said he is healthy and will be ready to go when the Tour resumes.

Mickelson finished third in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in early February and missed the cut in his next two starts.

Manning, who played for the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos, retired in 2016 as the NFL’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns and yards and is the only five-time winner of the league’s Most Valuable Player award.

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Ijeoma Popoola (NAN)

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Foreign

Africa’s confirmed COVID-19 cases surpass 110,000: Africa CDC

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The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the African continent surpassed 111,348 as the death toll from the ongoing pandemic surged to 3,348 as of Monday afternoon, the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said.

The Africa CDC, in its latest continental situation update report issued on Monday, showed that some 44,630 people who have been infected with the COVID-19 have recovered across the continent as of Monday afternoon.

Figures from the Africa CDC also showed that amid the rapid spread of the virus across the continent, the highly COVID-19 affected African countries include South Africa with 22,583 confirmed cases, Egypt with 17,265 confirmed cases, Algeria with 8,306 confirmed cases, and Nigeria with 7,839 confirmed cases.

The Africa CDC said that the Northern African region is the most affected area across the continent both in terms of positive COVID-19 cases, as well as the number of deaths.

The continental disease control and prevention agency added that the COVID-19 pandemic had spread across all 54 African countries.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Senegal reports 83 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, total reaching 3,130

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Senegal’s Ministry of Health and Social Action on Monday reported 83 more confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 3,130 in the country.

Of the 83 new cases, 79 are follow-up contact cases and four community-transmission ones, ministry spokesperson Aloyse Waly Diouf told a daily briefing on the pandemic.

A total of 1,091 tests were conducted in the previous 24 hours, he said.

An additional 59 patients recovered from the disease, bring the total of recoveries to 1,515. The number of patients in intensive care units rose to 15, Diouf said.

The death toll remains at 35 across the country.

Senegal, which reported the first confirmed case on March 2, now has a total of 3,130 cases, including 2,761 follow-up contact cases, 89 imported ones and 280 community-transmission ones.

President Macky Sall on Sunday urged citizens to stay vigilant and observe preventive measures to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

Although the situation appears to be stabilizing in the country, Senegal faces a possible rise of imported cases from neighboring countries.

Its northern neighbor Mauritania reported a surge of confirmed cases last week, while Mali on Monday reported nine new cases in the western region of Kayes, right next to the border with Senegal.

Across Senegal’s southern border, Guinea-Bissau on Sunday reported 64 positive cases out of 84 samples tested.

Senegal’s state of emergency over the pandemic, declared on March 24, was extended early May to last through June 2. Residents are subject to a 9 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew and required to wear masks at all public places.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Analysis: German “Clasico” attracting worldwide audience

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Talking about football in the difficult days of the COVID-19 crisis means talking about the German Bundesliga.

The upcoming duel between second-placed Borussia Dortmund and league leaders and reigning champions Bayern Munich is attracting worldwide attention.

With Germany one of the few countries to have restarted its domestic football league, a three-digit number of countries is to broadcast the delicate duel of Germany’s leading sides at the Signal Iduna Park.

Marketing officers from both clubs and the league association might be delighted considering the publicity effect, while fans eagerly wait for another footballing delicacy.

The worst fears of football being played behind closed doors leading to less quality have not been realized. By contrast, sides like Bayern, Dortmund, Borussia Monchengladbach, Bayer Leverkusen, and RB Leipzig gave plenty of evidence that the so-called “ghost games” have a particular charm.

Football behind closed doors seems an advantage for technically advanced sides, as football is reduced to its core activity without being affected by significant impact from the outside. In Dortmund and Bayern, two such sides are going to face off this Tuesday evening.

Fans now puzzle over the question of what will decide the nail-biting duel.

Statistics talk about the crucial starting point. To win the 2019/20 Bundesliga, Borussia Dortmund (57 points) have to beat Bayern (61) to retain any realistic chance.

However, Bayern also have tough fixtures against fifth-placed Monchengladbach and third-placed Leverkusen in the remaining six rounds.

Neither side appears to be affected by the unfamiliar atmosphere in having to play without a cheering crowd. Both Dortmund and Bayern seem to have used the six-week hiatus to recharge and perform at an impressively high level.

This is all the more surprising for Dortmund, as the team of Lucien Favre typically relies on the support of up to 80,000 fans, including 25,000 forming the so-called Yellow Wall.

Dortmund vs Bayern is not only the battle of a team of enchanting young talents challenging established stars, but the thrilling duel of the league’s top-scoring sides.

Bayern’s 80 goals in 27 matches set a new record, but Dortmund are only narrowly behind on 74.

The Bavarians’ coach Hansi Flick has led the side back to success, revitalizing the team spirit. At the same time, he has brought the best out of established stars such as Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller, Thiago Alcantara, youngster Alphonso Davies, Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski.

However, Dortmund might have found its suitable tactical 3-4-3 system just in time. The side established a solid defense around leader Mats Hummels next to full-backs Raphael Guerreiro and Achraf Hakimi.

Upfront, a gifted line of attackers such as Erling Haaland, Jadon Sancho, Thorgan Hazard, Julian Brandt is doing a good job of compensating for the loss of injured team captain Marco Reus.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

COVID-19 cases in Belarus rise to 37,144

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Belarus reported 946 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Monday, taking its total to 37,144.

Of all the country’s confirmed cases, 14,449 people have recovered so far, while 204 people with chronic diseases have died from the epidemic, according to the health ministry.

As of Monday, over 463,000 tests for the novel coronavirus have been conducted across the country, the ministry said.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

AU commission chief urges Africans to drive toward self-sufficiency

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Marking Africa Day, the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, on Monday underlined the need for Africans to chart their own course that seeks own solutions for problems of varied natures.

“In a world in which multilateralism is sorely tested, Africa must stop expecting solutions from others,” said the chairperson.

Reiterating that the African continent is endowed with enormous resources, the chairperson called for inward-looking and self-reliance approach, which will be a catalyst for the renaissance of African nations.

Mahamat said Africa mobilized itself from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, recalling that a continental response strategy was developed and implemented promptly.

“We should however redouble efforts, determination and perseverance in strictly implementing the pillars of the strategy. We should go beyond the present situation, by preparing for postpandemic conditions in the world.”

Africa Day is the annual commemoration of the founding of the Organization of African Unity, now AU, on May 25, 1963.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

China-Thailand railway agreement likely be signed in October: Thai transport minister

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The “Contract 2.3” for the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima high-speed railway between Thailand and China is likely to be signed in October, said Thai Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob on Monday.

Saksayam made the announcement after attending a virtual meeting of the 28th Thai-Chinese Joint Committee with Ning Jizhe, vice chairman of China‘s National Development and Reform Commission.

The minister said the Thai and Chinese team had agreed that the contract, estimated at 50.6 billion baht (1.58 billion U.S. dollars), involves the cost of purchasing track, electricity systems and machinery, as well as procurement of train carriages and training.

Under the contract, 80 percent of the payment will be made in the U.S. currency and the remaining 20 percent in Thai baht.

There is a total of 14 contracts involved in the 253-km rail route from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima in the Northeast as a part of the Sino-Thai high-speed train project, linking Bangkok to Nong Khai, bordering Laos.

Saksayam said depending on the COVID-19 pandemic situation, there is a possibility that the signing might take place earlier than October.

The minister said that Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will preside over the signing ceremony at the Government House, and according to the plan, the first 253-km leg of the railway will commence service in year 2023.

(XINHUA)

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General news

N1.9bn Karu mega bus park will ease traffic congestion along Maraba – Abuja road, says Gov. Sule

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Gov. Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State says the N1.9 billion Karu mega bus terminal, when completed, will  ease traffic congestion on the Mararaba- Abuja corridor.

Sule, who congestion spoke on Monday after inspecting ongoing work at the site of the project at Mararaba in Karu Local Government Area of the state, said various motor parks in the area would be collapsed into the bus terminal.

According to him, the terminal will serve the FCT, Plateau, Benue, Kaduna and other states , when completed.

He added that the choice of Karu for the project was due to its proximity to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and large population in the area with overwhelming transportation demand.

Sule, who inspected the project as part of activities to mark his one year in office, expressed satisfaction with the quality of work so far.

He noted that although the project was being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, it had now reached 28 per cent completion instead of the targeted 45 per cent.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the governor was taken round the project by the Project Consultant, Mr Shehu Tukur, who assured him of quality job.

 

 

 

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Eid-el Fitr: Onyeama donates palliatives to Muslim community, 10,000 households in Enugu

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The Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, on Monday in Enugu donated palliative items through his foundation, ‘Kwusike Foundation’, to the Muslim community in the state.

Onyeama said that the gesture was in furtherance of his assistance to the residents of the state in the face of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The minister also said that the move was to enable the Muslim faithful in the state to have an eventful Eid-el-Fitr celebration.

He said that the pandemic had imposed much difficulties on Nigerians and the rest of the world, adding that it was more difficult at a time the Muslim faithful were celebrating Sallah.

He urged the Muslim faithful to face the pandemic with prayers as well as abide by the safety protocols recommended by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

Responding, the Leader of the Hausa Community in the state, Alhaji Abubakar Sambo, said that the gesture could not have come at a better time than when they were celebrating Sallah.

Sambo said that the pandemic had affected their means of livelihood and well-being and commended Onyeama for the intervention.

“We have sacrificed a lot as a result of this pandemic and I pray that God will continue to unite us and give our leaders the wisdom to lead,” he said.

Meanwhile, Onyeama said that he had taken delivery of no fewer than 10,000 bags of 10kg rice which was the third tranche of his intervention in the state.

The minister said that he discovered that a lot of vulnerable people in the rural communities were not reached during the distribution of the first and second tranches of the palliative items.

“In this third tranche, our target is to supply no fewer than 10,000 households with food items and protective equipment,” he said.

Onyeama said that the process would continue until the entire state was covered.

Edited By: Bayo Sekoni/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Contact US: editor @nnn.com.ng, nnnnews247 @gmail.com

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