The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi, on Monday said the National Assembly and the Ministry of Aviation were considering banning flights from the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries with high rates of COVID-19.
Adeyemi, who stated this in an interview with The Punch in Abuja, said a decision on the issue would be announced next week.
The Federal Government’s plan may not be unconnected with pressures on it to stop further spread of coronavirus by banning flights from nations with high rates of the virus.
Recall that the President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Prof Innocent Ujah, had in an interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, said travellers from the UK and the US were worsening COVID-19 cases in Nigeria.
The NMA president stated, “Government knows that they (travellers from the UK and the US) are the ones responsible for increase in cases and the results have shown that and government knows what they should do.”
Although the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 had on Thursday imposed fresh requirements on passengers from the UK and South Africa, flights from the two countries were not banned.
The PTF only opened registers for travellers from the two countries because of deadlier strains of coronavirus discovered there.
It, however, said there were no new strains of the virus in Nigeria. But there are fears that travellers who obtained fake COVID-19 results could have brought the new virus into the country.
According to worldometers.info, as of 6:55pm on Monday, the US had recorded 19,589,952 COVID-19 cases with 341,332 deaths.
The UK had 2,329,730 COVID-19 cases with 71,109 deaths. Sweden had 396,048 cases with 8,279 recorded.
As of Sunday, Nigeria had recorded 84,414 cases of the virus with 1,254 deaths. But deaths from the virus have increased sharply since the second wave started last month.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control had said after a drop in the death rate from September to November, it went up to 74 this month.
Adeyemi, in the interview with The PUNCH, said the National Assembly and the Federal Government were concerned about the second wave of COVID-19.
He stated that the joint National Assembly Committees on Aviation, the Aviation Ministry and agencies in the sector had been holding regular meetings in the past few days on the matter.
He said the meetings were seriously discussing possible impacts of the proposed ban and other associated issues.
Adeyemi said, “We are still trying to study the situation so as to know the appropriate steps to take. It is a very sad situation no doubt.
“The National Assembly and the Aviation Ministry are looking at what really should be done on the call to ban some of the flights coming in, not only from the United Kingdom, but also other countries where the pandemic spreads are more severe.
“The National Assembly Joint Committee on Aviation is discussing with the Ministry of Aviation and we are looking at what can be done and the right steps to be taken.
“COVID-19 is of great concern to everyone and it has been proven that it is real. Nigeria as a country has been able to contain the situation because our people are very conscious of the protocols.
“The fact that we are experiencing the second wave is a concern. So, the ministry and the National Assembly are considering an outright ban of flights from the pandemic prone countries like the United Kingdom, the United States, the Asian countries, Sweden, among others.
“We have been studying the situation. We would arrive at a conclusion in the next few days. We are looking at the figures, the rate of infection, the manner of infection and government response.
“We are studying the implications of the outright ban of flights and whether it would be of any importance to the containment of the virus.
“We have protocols for visitors arriving in Nigeria which we make sure are being strictly observed. Notwithstanding, in the next few days, we would know what to do.
“The Senate and the House of Representatives committees on Aviation, the Ministry of Aviation, and all the agencies under the ministry have been engaging in regular meetings over the situation.
“By next week, we would come up with a definite conclusion on whether there would be an outright ban of flights from the affected countries or the next steps to take.”
Ogun bags best performing state award in RI, Covid-19 vaccination
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has declared Ogun as the overall best performing state in the SouthWest on Routine Immunisation (RI) and Covid-19 Vaccination.
This was contained in a statement made available by the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tomi Coker in Abeokuta, after the conferment of the award at the Immunisation Performance Award ceremony, held in commemoration of the 2022 African Vaccination Week in Abuja.
Coker, according to the Press Officer, Ogun State Primary Health Care Development Board (OGSPHCDB), Yemisi Fashola, quoted that the award was in recognition of the state’s commitment and support towards improving the performance on Routine Immunisation and other primary health care activities in the country.
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The Commissioner stated that the award was received by the Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, who was represented by his Deputy, Engr. Noimot Salako-Oyedele.
While appreciating the Federal Government for deeming it fit to recognize the efforts of the State government at improving the wellbeing of its citizenry, Coker attributed the award to the support and hard work of the total health force, as well as the cooperation of residents in the State.
The Health Commissioner, who hailed the health workers for their efforts, said the African vaccination week was geared towards strengthening immunisation programmes in African region, by increasing awareness on the importance of every person’s need and right to be protected from vacation- preventable diseases.
COVID-19: NAFDAC boss confirms Nigeria’s vaccines meet global standard
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has confirmed that vaccines produced in Nigeria including those for COVID-19, will be of “internationally acceptable standard”.
NAFDAC Director General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, made the affirmation in a press statement signed by the Agency’s Resident Media Consultant, Sayo Akintola
Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, the statement indicated made the disclosure during an oversight visit to the NAFDAC facilities and COVID-19 laboratory projects in Lagos last week Friday, by the House of Representatives Committee on COVID-19.
She described the Federal government’s FG huge spending on the fight against the virus as exemplified by the construction of the new laboratory, equipped with modern instruments and amenities at the Agency as a wake-up call for the country.
Prof. Adeyeye noted with dismay that the health sector had hitherto been neglected before the present administration responded through the COVID-19 Committees of the National Assembly, ‘’particularly the members that are here today’’.
In order to ensure that the health sector is strengthened, the NAFDAC asserted that the regulatory Agency must be strengthened.
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“If the regulatory agency is not strengthened, the industry will not be strengthened,’’ she said, adding; ‘’we have the African Free trade Agreement already here with us now for the nation’s pharmaceutical industry to take advantage of with quality products.’’
She added: ‘’there will be a lot of competition and if NAFDAC’s laboratory is not strengthened, we will not be able to compete’’.
‘’For vaccines, we are hoping that the vaccine facilities from the public- private partnership will soon happen’’, warning that ‘’but if the regulatory agency is not strong, we can make vaccines that will destroy our own people’’.
With NAFDAC now very strong with WHO Maturity Level 3 certification, Prof. Adeyeye enthused that ‘’Nigeria can now make her own vaccines and we can assure the populace that there is quality in whatever is being manufactured because of NAFDAC’s strength’’.
On the impact of COVID-19 fund has, she said this should resonate well with the whole country, that if you put the right people in the right places, then the vision of the government can be realized.
‘’Whatever approvals that are being given by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on funding our activities, you can actually touch such and this is what has happened here today’’, Prof. Adeyeye excitedly told the visiting lawmakers.
She commended the House COVID-19 committee, and the Healthcare Services Committee of the 9th Assembly for committing to ensuring that NAFDAC as a regulatory agency is known internationally.
Speaking in the same vein, Chairman, House Committee on COVID-19, Haruna Mshelia commended the NAFDAC boss and her team for leveraging on latest technology to upgrade the Agency to a standard that is next to none in Africa.
“We have seen with our eyes how they have leveraged on latest technology to upgrade the organization to a standard that is next to none in Africa. I think they need to be commended. We have seen the warehouse. We have now seen the laboratory which is under construction. They have gone very far, and the standard of the construction is good’’, he said.
He added: “We have also seen the equipment awaiting to be installed in the laboratories. I have to say kudos to the DG and her team for getting good value for money as far as COVID-19 funds for NAFDAC is concerned. Other Agencies should come to NAFDAC and learn how they have leveraged on ICT to move their organization forward so that everywhere our standard can be uplifted with everyone seeing it” Mshelia advised.
FG to test locally-made COVID-19 vaccine in November
The COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Federal Government is set for trial by November
The PUNCH reports that the project, which is a mega research grant intervention tagged, ‘Accelerated development of COVID-19 vaccines using innovative technological approach’, is a collaborative effort involving cluster researchers from five different institutions to consolidate problem-solving research and promote innovation in the country.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that Tertiary Education Trust Fund awarded a total of N1.25bn to four clusters of researchers.
One of the clusters, which is the Vaccine Production Cluster, got a total grant of N450m.
According to a statement by TETFUND and made available to our correspondent in Abuja, the VPC is made up of researchers from the National Veterinary Research Institute Vom; Usman Danfodiyo University Sokoto; Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Jos; Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Lagos; and National Research Institute for Chemical Technology, Zaria.
The statement titled, ‘TETFund-sponsored COVID-19 vaccine ready for trial November’ read in part, “The Vice Chancellor of Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Prof Lawal Bilbis, who led the team of researchers to brief the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Sonny Echono, on the progress so far explained that they were able to make the breakthrough through the maximum support of the fund.
“He recalled how the COVIC-19 pandemic ravaged and unleashed untold hardship on humanity globally, noting that Nigeria was only saved by divine intervention, since the nation was not prepared for such eventuality.
“TETFund believed in us and supported us to get to where we are now. That is why we have come to give a firsthand report on the progress made so far.”
A presentation by Dr Bashir Bello of Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, revealed that it had become a matter of urgency for Africa to join the rest of the world in the production of its own vaccine, as it was estimated that the continent currently imports 99 per cent of its vaccines and consumes 25 per cent of global vaccine supply.
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