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COVID-19

COVID-19: Drop in Nigeria’s food production worries Red Cross

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The International Committee of the Red Cross has expressed worry over how COVID-19 has reduced food production in Nigeria.

It stated this on Friday in an update of its activities, adding that this and the drop in food import into the country had seen an increase in Nigeria’s malnourished children.

It quoted one of its nutritionists, Thomas Ndambu, as saying, “What we are seeing now is just the tip of an iceberg, and we are very concerned by the trend, especially in Maiduguri.  I am certain that when Nigerian Red Cross volunteers resume their community outreach, the numbers will surge.”

The report showed that the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic put additional strain on the vulnerable communities in the North-East, where armed conflict is severely hampering agricultural production.

It also reported its Economic Security Programme Coordinator, Mwakiuna Muriungi, as saying, “Everywhere we work, the food prices have gone up; in some places, they doubled. It means that millions of people in the North-East of Nigeria do not have enough to eat.”

The ICRC noted that about two million people in the North-East were currently displaced and had no access to their agricultural land and production tools.

It lamented that in many areas of the Lake Chad region insecurity and movement restrictions had limited farmers ability to plant crops.

COVID-19

We gave Lagos N10b, Kano N5b, others N1b each to fight COVID-19 ― PSC

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Chairman of the PSC and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha

The Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 has disclosed that Lagos and Kano States got N10 billion and N5 billion respectively from the Federal Government to combat the pandemic as part of resources made available to the 36 States and Federal Capital Territory.

The Chairman of the PSC and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, made this known on Monday.

Mustapha spoke in a presentation entitled: “National Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Nigeria-The Journey so Far,” at the summit on COVID-19 in Abuja.

According to him, while Lagos and Kano got N10 billion and N5 billion each, other states and the FCT got N1 billion each.

The national response commenced under the then Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in March 2020.

It later transformed to the PSC with effect from March 2021.

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The SGF said the PTF/PSC has till date submitted two major reports to the government, in December 2020 and March 2021, adding that the response remains a work in progress because COVID-19 has not abated.

He said: “Countries of the world including Nigeria, have experienced the third wave and currently a fourth wave is unfolding with the Omicron variant.

“We have steadily been implementing the COVID-19 protocols, joining the world to ease up restrictions The evolution of the pandemic showed us that remaining vigilant and consistent on our science-based approach is crucial until such time that we are all safe.

“The emergence of the omicron variant of concern highlights how fragile and vulnerable we are global.

“It is therefore important that we maintain pressure on the COVID-19 virus until we deny it the opportunity to continue to circulate and mutate.

“Our overall focus will be to scale up vaccination of our population to reach targets set by the WHO. Nigeria needs to continue to implement public health and social measures in place combined with effective vaccination now that we are getting the vaccines.

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“With the emergence of Omicron, Nigeria, like some other countries have become targets of restrictive measures.

“This has to be only on a strong basis of science and data. Nigeria joins the WHO and other countries in calling on countries of the world to implement risk-based international protocols that are in line with international health regulations whilst we are developing a new pandemic treaty that will avert this type of situation.

“Global health security is our collective responsibility irrespective of our economic status.”

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COVID-19

FG: We have enough COVID vaccines to cover 70% Nigerians

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Nigeria has enough vaccines that can cover over 70 per cent of the country’s population before the end of 2022, Secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, has said.

The SGF said this at the national COVID-19 summit held at Muhammadu Buhari Conference Centre in Abuja, tagged ‘Pushing Through the Last Mile to End the Pandemic and Build Back Better’.

He said, “Nigeria has invested in enough vaccines that can cover over 70 per cent of our population before the end of 2022. These vaccines are safe and efficacious; hence, it is better and safer to be vaccinated against this virus, now.”

He said the summit was to create the opportunity to identify successes, gaps and lessons learnt so far in Nigeria’s national response to the pandemic since March 2020 to date.

He added that the summit is also aimed at developing strategies to actualise the international commitments towards ending COVID-19 before the end of 2022.

“Today, we are here to assess the level of impact of our national response and develop strategies as we push through the last mile to end the pandemic while we build back better,” he said.

The SGF said, “There is no gainsaying that the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, which was triggered when the index case was confirmed on the 27th of February 2020, precipitated significant disruptions to the healthcare system and socio-economic lives of Nigerians.

​”Due to the evolving dynamics of COVID-19 pandemic with progressive mutations of the virus to more transmissible and deadly variants, the international community has corroborated the insinuation that the pandemic will persist for few more years.

“This understanding has impelled world leaders recently to come to a conclusion that if efforts are not renewed and aggressive measures are not taken, COVID-19 pandemic will continue to ravage humanity well longer than earlier envisaged. Hence, the need to adopt an ambitious (but cautious) agenda to end the COVID-19 pandemic by the year 2022.”

He said the summit is a follow-up towards Nigeria’s commitment to the ambitious global agenda/movement to end the COVID-19 pandemic by 2022 and build back better.

“​Global efforts at ending COVID-19 pandemic are intrinsically linked to the call for nations of the world to take steps towards strengthening their health system and bio-security- which will make for better pandemic preparedness and the ability to respond more robustly and swiftly to future pandemics,” Mustapha said.

 

He asked stakeholders to encourage all eligible persons to get vaccinated and keep observing the necessary preventive COVID-19 measures.

 

 

 

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It’s apartheid for UK to ban travellers, Nigeria high commissioner reacts

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Nigeria has condemned the travel restrictions imposed on the country, describing it as selective and apartheid.

Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK), Sarafa Ishola, stated this on Monday in an interview.

A number of countries in Europe have banned travel from countries in Africa after the discovery of the Omicron COVID-19 variant by South Africa.

The UK on Saturday announced that it would add Nigeria to the countries on its red list as a result of Omicron COVID cases linked to the country.

The ban, which is effective from Monday (today), means only the UK residents or citizens of the UK can enter the UK from Nigeria.

Speaking on a BBC radio programme on Monday, Isola said the ban on Nigeria was “travel apartheid”.

The high commissioner said what was expected of the UK was a global approach and not a selective measure, adding that most Omicron cases in Nigeria came from elsewhere through travellers.

“The reaction in Nigeria is that of travel apartheid. Because Nigeria actually aligned with the position of the United Nations secretary-general that the travel ban is apartheid in the sense that we are dealing with an endemic situation; we are dealing with a pandemic situation and what is expected is a global approach, not selective,” he said.

Ishola said Omicron had been classified as a mild variant; “no hospitalisation, no deaths, so the issue is quite different from the Delta variant”.

He said the best way to tackle the issue should be collaborative, adding, “That’s why we in Nigeria believe that we are dealing with a pandemic. Whenever we have a challenge there must be collaboration.”

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