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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

COVID-19: Bayelsa imposes curfew from 8pm to 6am

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Bayelsa State government has imposed a dusk to dawn curfew in the state from 8pm to 6am daily.

The Commissioner for Information, Orientation and Strategy, Mr Ayibaina Duba, in a statement on Friday, said the curfew was part of the measures to prevent the spread of the surging trait of the new variants of COVID-19.

He said the curfew takes effect from Sunday, May 16, 2021 until further notice.

Duba said: “In view of this development, movements within as well as in and out of the state through the major entry points including Bayelsa/Delta states’ boundary at Adagbabiri, Gloryland Drive at Igbogene and Bayelsa/Rivers states’ boundary at Mbiama are prohibited during the hours of the curfew.

“Relevant security agencies have been mobilised to enforce the curfew. Commuters and members of the general public are advised to take note of this development.”

 

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COVID-19: Indian strain detected in Osun, Edo

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A new COVID-19 strain, currently ravaging India, has been found in Nigeria.
The reported detection of the devastating strain in Osun and Edo states must have jolted the Federal Government and prompted it to take its latest actions announced on Monday, according a report by The PUNCH.
The strain was reportedly detected by the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases in the Redeemers University, Ede, Osun State, about three weeks ago and has been communicated to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
The FG on Monday announced a number of measures to avert the spread of the new strains in Nigeria including restricted gatherings at worship centres and banning nightclubs after the devastating strain had spread to 23 countries including South Africa.
The detection had been listed on GISAID, a global science initiative providing open access to genomic data of influenza viruses.

A notification dated April 25, 2021, sent by Prof. Christian Hapi of the ACEGID to the NCDC, stated, “We have found five sequences of the India B.1.617 in the country, specifically in Edo and Osun states.”
However, The PUNCH learnt that subsequent observations showed that so far, the strain had not shown the same kind of viciousness displayed in India where 400,000 persons were infected daily and 157 died per hour.
Speaking with one of our correspondents, Hapi said the information was sent to the NCDC two weeks ago.
Hapi, however, clarified that strain in India has two more mutations than the one identified in Nigeria which makes the one in India more aggressive.
“What we have is the B1.617 from India. That is the variant they had but that variant has now evolved beyond the mutation that we identified.
“The one India evolved by two mutations. It is the same strain with India but their own now has a couple of mutations. So, it is the same as what we detected but also different in characteristics.”
Virologist and Chairman, Expert Review Committee on COVID-19, Professor Oyewale Tomori, told one of our correspondents that he was also aware of the detection of the Indian strain.
Tomori said it was important for the government to announce the detection of the Indian strain.
He further said there was a need to increase testing, adding that many states were no longer conducting test for COVID-19.
“The Indian strain is not as fierce in Nigeria yet but we are not doing enough testing,” Tomori said.

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COVID-19: FG imposes fresh curfew, ban nightclubs, restrict mass gatherings

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The Federal Government has reintroduced restriction on mass gatherings including worship centres, ban nightclubs and a rollback of many of the lockdown measures imposed during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
The reintroduction of all the safety measures announced on Monday by the FG came following a spike in the new strains of COVID-19 cases being recorded in countries such as India, Brazil, Turkey and South Africa.
The Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 at its briefing on Monday announced the measures, adding that the immediate nationwide curfew would be observed from midnight to 4am daily.
The committee’s National Incident Manager, Mukhtar Mohammed, said event centres and non-essential public places such as nightclubs would remain closed till further notice.
Religious gatherings are to be limited to less than 50 per cent capacity to ensure physical distancing while social events such as weddings and parties are to be attended by not more than 50 persons.
The committee directed security personnel to enforce the measures while state governments to set up a mobile tribunal for the prosecution of violators.
Mohammed said, “The national response continues to focus on achieving a balance between preserving lives while working on a long-term epidemic control. Effective from 00:01 hours on Tuesday 11th of May 2022, this phase four of restriction of movement shall come into effect.
“We shall maintain restrictions on mass gatherings of sidewalk settings, with a maximum of about 50 people in an enclosed space. Approved gatherings must be held to the physical distancing measures, and other non-pharmaceutical interventions in place.
“We will continue to maintain restriction on reduction of work of government staff workers from GL-12 and below. We’ll also limited government meetings to virtual platforms as much as possible. While we maintaining restrictions on physical meetings, including official trips, oversight visits and board meetings.
“All recreational venues, gyms and indoor sports facilities are to close until 11 of June when the situation will be reviewed. Mass political gatherings, gatherings in the open, a large number of people are strictly to o adhere this COVID-19 protocol as issued by INEC.
“Event centres, nightclubs shall remain closed until further notice. Restaurants are to provide eat-in at 50 per cent capacity and provide takeaways where available.”
The incident manager also said there would no be restriction of movement within the country, adding, “Only essential travellers are encouraged, and both international and domestic travellers must abide by all existing protocols.”
The new measures come amid concerns over the surge in infections and resultant deaths particularly in Brazil, India and Turkey.
The FG had earlier announced that foreigners who recently visited the three countries would no longer be allowed to enter Nigeria.
It also reduced the validity period of the pre-boarding COVID-19 PCR test for all Nigeria-bound passengers from 96 to 72 hours.
In India, which has been the worst hit in recent weeks, 366,161 new infections and 3,754 deaths were reported on Monday, taking the country’s tally to 22.66 million with 246,116 deaths with hospitals being overwhelmed.
Nigeria has so far recorded 165,419 cases of the virus out of which 2,065 have died while 156,300 have been discharged.
In terms of vaccination against the disease, only 1.7 million shots had been administered as of Monday.

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