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COVID-19

FG will not force anyone to take COVID-19 vaccine – Minister

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  • WHO reaffirms support for AstraZeneca

Minister of State for Health, Olorunnibe Mamora, has said the Federal Government will not force anyone to take the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

This came as the World Health Organisation urged countries to keep using AstraZeneca vaccine, noting that the benefits outweigh the risks.

Mamora spoke with journalists on Friday shortly after he inaugurated some projects at the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba in Delta State.

He added that the FG could only appeal to those not willing to take the vaccine in their best interest.

The minister also spoke on why Kogi was yet to take delivery of the vaccine, noting the state lacked its storage facilities.

He said, “Kogi lacks storage facilities for cold chain, security, logistics, and personnel to administer the vaccine.

“Also, let me state clearly here that from the onset, the Federal Government made it clear that it would not force anyone to take the vaccine, but rather, will continue to appeal to people in their own interest.

“Aside from that, in Kogi, one of the reasons the vaccine has not been sent there is because during the #EndSARS crisis, some of their facilities were violently destroyed.

“So, as we speak, Kogi does not even have the facilities for storage to maintain the cold chain. So, that is the reason the state has not been supplied.”

Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, had said the only state which had not received its batch of the vaccine is Kogi.

“All states except Kogi have received their vaccine. Kogi state is yet to receive due to the non-repair of their cold-chain store, coupled with the state’s concerns around the contradictory information about the vaccine,” he had said.

Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello, had said he did not need the vaccine, and would not turn his people to “guinea pigs”.

He had, however, said the state would embark on sensitisation programmes, and administer the vaccine to interested persons.

Meanwhile, Director-General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said this on Friday at a virtual news conference after the agency vaccine safety panel met on Tuesday and Friday to review all the available data to respond to concerns over possible side effects of the vaccine.

The WHO findings aligned with that of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) which on Thursday announced that it has come to a “clear scientific conclusion” that the benefits of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine outweigh the risks.

Both the EMA and the WHO investigations came after several countries suspended the vaccine due to reports of blood disorders among some of its recipients.

Following the EMA announcement, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Bulgaria were some of the countries that said they will resume administering the vaccine.

Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson on Friday said they had signed deals with the Brazilian health ministry to provide a total of 138 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to the country.

According to a statement, Pfizer will deliver 100 million doses by the end of September.

On Monday, Brazil health ministry said they expected to receive 13.5 million Pfizer doses in the second quarter of 2021 and 86.5 million in the third.

Anvisa, Brazil’s health agency, has not approved emergency use of Johnson & Johnson, but the health ministry said it expected to receive 16.9 million doses from the company by the end of August and another 21.1 million by the end of November.

Brazil has so far approved three vaccines for emergency use during the pandemic, those by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Sinovac.

Brazil has witnessed a surge in infections and the fatality rate continues to rise. According to data from John Hopkins University, as of March 20, the country has recorded 11.7 million cases of the virus with 287,499 deaths.

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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COVID-19

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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