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England imposes national lockdown amid rising COVID-19 new wave

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a new national lockdown in England to contain new wave of COVID-19 said to be spreading at an alarming rate in the country.

He made the announcement in a televised address from Downing Street, on Monday evening, saying England’s health system was at risk of becoming overwhelmed in 21 days without a national lockdown.

According to him, people can only leave their homes to shop for essentials, work if they can’t from home, exercise, go to the doctor’s and escape domestic abuse.

Primary and secondary schools as well as colleges are expected to move to remote learning on Tuesday (today).

The measures are coming after the UK recorded more than 50,000 new confirmed COVID-19 cases for the seventh day in a row.

Johnson said the new lockdown, which will remain till mid February, is expected to contain the spread of the new virus variant.

He said residents should only leave their homes for limited reasons, which have been outlined in a 22-page document published by the government.

“In England, we must therefore go into a national lockdown which is tough enough to contain this variant. That means the government is once again instructing you to stay at home,” he said.

“You may only leave home for limited reasons permitted, such as to shop for accessories, to work if you cannot work from home, to exercise, to seek medical assistance such as getting your COVID test or to escape domestic abuse.”

Johnson said the new COVID-19 strain is spreading at a “frustrating and alarming” rate, adding that “you are much, much more likely to catch the virus and pass it on”.

He added that UK hospitals “are under more pressure from COVID than at any time since the start of the pandemic”.

A new variant of the coronavirus was first identified in Kent and has since spread across the UK and other parts of the world at a faster pace.

The UK chief medical officers had recommended the COVID-19 threat level be increased from four to five — its highest level.

The medical officers warned of a “material risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed” in several areas over the next 21 days.

More than 40 countries including France and Saudi Arabia have banned international flights to the UK over new strain of COVID-19.

In October, the prime minister announced a second national lockdown in England to prevent a “medical and moral disaster”.

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COVID-19

US to halt J&J COVID vaccine after blood clotting cases

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The United States federal health agencies on Tuesday recommended suspending the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

The development comes after six recipients of the vaccine — all women– developed a “severe type of blood clot”.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said they would stop using the vaccine at federal sites and asked states to do so as well while they investigate safety issues.

The agencies, in a joint statement, said they were “reviewing data involving six reported US cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the vaccine. Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare”.

“Treatment of this specific type of blood clot is different from the treatment that might typically be administered,” they said.

“CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday to further review these cases and assess their potential significance. FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates these cases.

“Until that process is complete, we are recommending this pause. This is important to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot.”

It is the third COVID-19 vaccine that has received FDA’s authorisation, and also the first single-dose COVID-19 vaccine available in the US.

About seven million people in the US have received the vaccine.

Similar reports of blood clot development in recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine made several European countries to suspend use of the product in March.

They have, however, resumed using the vaccine after European Union and British regulators said there was no link between the vaccine and the reported side effects.

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COVID-19

COVID-19: PTF transforms into presidential steering committee, completes task December

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COVID-19: PTF transforms into presidential steering committee, complete task December

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the transition of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 to the presidential steering committee.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said President Muhamadu Buhari, stated this at a media briefing on Tuesday, adding that the mandate of the PSC would end on December 31.
According to him, the PSC will focus on ensuring effectiveness in the roll-out of the vaccine, and promote policies that will result in the development of the country’s health sector.
“Mr president has considered the report and has approved the following: That the PTF will transition to a presidential steering committee on COVID-19, effective from 1st April, 2021, with a modified mandate to reflect the non-emergent status of COVID-19 as a potentially long-term pandemic,” he said.
“That the structure of the PSC shall reflect the new focus of the response with a targeted approach on vaccine oversight, risk communication, international travel quarantine processes and sub-national engagement; that the tenure of the presidential steering committee shall last till 31st December, 2021.
“The presidential steering committee would maintain the present constitution, functions and strategies of the PTF; be supported by a slim technical and administrative structure.”

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COVID-19

Lagos shuts 430 event centres, night clubs

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The Lagos State Safety Commission says it has shut 430 event centres and night clubs for violating COVID-19 protocols.
Director General at the commission, Lanre Mojola, said at a news conference in Alausa, Ikeja that the commission was saddled with developing safety guidelines for the state’s reopening of economic activities in post COVID-19 lockdown.
“The commission was involved in the enforcement of COVID-19 protocols and this led to the shutting of 30 event centres and 400 clubs across the state,” he added.
On construction safety, the DG said the commission carried out risk assessment and unscheduled safety inspection of construction sites to ensure safety compliance, as well as adherence to COVID-19 protocols, to prevent accidents, incidents, illnesses and loss of lives.
He said the commission issued provisional safety compliance certificates for 90 days and safety compliance certificates thereafter if compliance status was maintained.
Mojola said the enforcement was carried out in 609 construction sites for repeated failure to comply with safety regulations.
He said the annual World Safety Day would hold across the world on April 28 to create awareness, sensitise and educate people on the importance of keeping the workplace safe and free from occupational hazards, accidents, incidents and preventable illnesses.

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