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COVID-19

UK closes all travel corridors for four weeks from Monday

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The United Kingdom is to close all travel corridors for four weeks from Monday morning to protect against the risk of unidentified new strains of COVID, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has said.

Anyone flying into the country from overseas will have to show proof of a negative COVID test before setting off, according to the new directive.

It comes as a ban on travellers from South America and Portugal came into force on Friday over concerns about a new variant identified in Brazil.

Johnson said the new rules would be in place until at least 15 February.

A further 1,280 people with coronavirus have died in the UK within 28 days of a positive test, taking the total to 87,291.

The latest government figures on Friday also showed another 55,761 new cases had been reported – up from 48,682 the previous day.

More than two million people around the world have now died with the virus since the pandemic began, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, the prime minister said it was “vital” to take extra measures now “when day by day we are making such strides in protecting the population”.

“It’s precisely because we have the hope of that vaccine and the risk of new strains coming from overseas that we must take additional steps now to stop those strains from entering the country.”

All travel corridors will close from 04:00 GMT on Monday. After that, arrivals to the UK will need to quarantine for up to 10 days, unless they test negative after five days.

Johnson, who said the rules would apply across the UK after talks with the devolved administrations, added that the government would be stepping up enforcement at the border and in the country.

Travel corridors were introduced in the summer to allow people travelling from some countries with low numbers of COVID cases to come to the UK without having to quarantine on arrival.

Trade body Airlines UK said it supported the latest restrictions “on the assumption” that the government would remove them “when it is safe to do so”.

Chief executive Tim Alderslade said travel corridors were “a lifeline for the industry” last summer but “things change and there’s no doubting this is a serious health emergency”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was the “right step” but called the timing of the decision “slow again”, adding that the public would be thinking “why on earth didn’t this happen before”.

The prime minister warned that the NHS was facing “extraordinary pressures”, having had the highest number of hospital admissions on a single day of the pandemic earlier this week.

He said that came on Tuesday when there were 4,134 new admissions, while the UK currently has more than 37,000 Covid patients in hospitals.

Johnson said that once the most vulnerable have been vaccinated by mid-February “we will think about what steps we could take to lift the restrictions”.

England is currently under a national lockdown, meaning people must stay at home and can go out only for limited reasons such as food shopping, exercise, or work if they cannot do so from home.

Similar measures are in place across much of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

-BBC

COVID-19

NGF: States to reintroduce COVID protocol, fast-track vaccine procurement to prevent third wave

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The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) says states will reintroduce measures for curbing the spread of the coronavirus to prevent a third wave of infections.

 

This was part of the resolutions reached by the governors after a meeting on Wednesday.

 

The decision was taken following a presentation by Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos, on the concerns about a third wave of infections in the state.

 

On July 11, Sanwo-Olu had warned Lagos residents of a possible outbreak, following a recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the state, which he said may lead to a third wave of infections.

 

In a statement issued after the meeting on Wednesday, Kayode Fayemi, chairman of the forum, said the governors also agreed to liaise with the federal government on ways to speed up the procurement of additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

 

“The Forum received an update from the Governor of Lagos State, H.E Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on the recent rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases and call for consensual action to prevent a third wave in the country,” Fayemi said.

 

“Following the update, the Forum called on all State Governors to revive their COVID protocols and collaborate with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to take appropriate and immediate actions to flatten the transmission curve.

 

“The Forum will interface with the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 to accelerate processes required to fast track the delivery of additional vaccines for the country.”

 

During the first wave of infections, guidelines such as restriction of movement, compulsory use of face masks, and strict adherence to physical distancing were in force, but with the drop in infection numbers, such measures have been relaxed across the country.

 

However, with concerns raised over a possible increase in infections, following the confirmation of the “highly infectious” Delta variant in Abuja and Oyo, it isn’t yet clear what exact measures the governors will reintroduce.

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Delta COVID variant, linked to high infection rate, detected in Nigeria

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed the index case of the delta variant of the coronavirus in Nigeria.

The NCDC disclosed this in a statement on Thursday.

According to the NCDC, the variant was detected during routine tests for in-bound travellers in Abuja.

“The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has detected a confirmed case with the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, also known as lineage B.1.617.2. The variant was detected in a traveler to Nigeria, following the routine travel test required of all international travelers and genomic sequencing at the NCDC National Reference Laboratory, Abuja,” the statement reads.

“The Delta variant is recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a variant of concern, given its increased transmissibility. The variant has been detected in over 90 countries and is expected to spread to more countries.

“The variant has also been linked to a surge in cases in countries where it is the dominant strain in circulation. There are ongoing studies to understand the impact of the variant on existing vaccines and therapeutics.”

The development comes days after the World Health Organisation (WHO) expressed concern over the “speedy” spread in infection rates in Africa as countries battle a third wave of COVID-19.

In a statement issued on July 1, the WHO had raised concern over variants of concern, especially the delta variant, adding that infection rates are doubling every week, and the virus is spreading faster than previous records.

However, according to the NCDC, the federal government is stepping up efforts through collaboration with the “Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), African Centre for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), and other laboratories within the national network, to carry out genomic sequencing”, in order “to enable the detection of variants of concern, and initiate response activities”.

“Given the high transmissibility of the Delta variant and following its detection in Nigeria, NCDC urges all Nigerians to ensure strict adherence to public health and social measures in place. Proven public health and social measures such as physical distancing, frequent handwashing, and proper use of face masks, prevent infections and save lives. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective and offers protection against the disease,” the agency said.

“Additionally, states are urged to ensure sample collection and testing for COVID-19 is accessible to the public. Public settings such as schools with accommodation facilities, workplaces and camps should utilise the approved Antigen-based Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) for rapid testing of their population.

“The recommended control measures to limit the spread of the Delta variant continue to be testing, following the existing public health guidance and abiding by the current travel and public restrictions.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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FG declares 132 violators of COVID-19 travel advisory wanted

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The Federal Government through the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 has declared another 132 travellers wanted for violating a recently issued travel advisory.

The PSC, on May 1, 2021, issued a travel advisory, instructing travellers arriving from India, Brazil and Turkey, or who had visited the countries within 14 days of their trip to Nigeria, to observe certain protocols, including compulsory quarantine and testing in designated facilities on arrival.

However, the committee observed that many travellers had been violating the advisory, leading to earlier announcement of 90 violators as wanted persons on May 9.

A statement on Thursday by the Chairman of the PSC and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, the Committee announced the 132 additional violators of the advisory, who entered through Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, advising members of the public to be on the lookout, describing the persons as immediate health hazard.

It stated, “The Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 on 1st May, 2021 issued a Travel Advisory for Passengers arriving in Nigeria from Brazil, India and Turkey.

“These precautionary measures are a necessary step to mitigate the risk of importation of variants of concern and break the chain of transmission to the population.

“Under the new measures, passengers arriving from/or that have visited any of these three countries within fourteen (14) days prior to the visit to Nigeria, are required to follow mandatory arrival quarantine and testing protocols in designated facilities.

“The Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) has however observed that while most of the arriving passengers dutifully observed the guidelines, some (Nigerians and Foreigners) have violated them in contravention of the provisions of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Health Regulations Protection, 2021.

“Accordingly, the underlisted persons who arrived in Nigeria through the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and whose names and passport numbers are displayed, have been declared Persons of Interest (POI) on account of posing considerable danger to overall public health and for the violation of Nigeria COVID-19 travel protocol by evading the mandatory seven-day quarantine for persons arriving from restricted countries.

“Members of the public are by this notice advised that these persons of interest constitute an immediate health hazard to the society.

“They must therefore transport themselves safely, to the nearest state public health departments within 48 hours of this notice for immediate evaluation and call the Port Health Services, Federal Ministry of Health.”

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