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No UK COVID-19 variant in Nigeria yet – NCDC

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The mutant strain of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom has not been found in the country, Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, has said.

He said after some sequencing by the NCDC, it did not find the variant was said to be deadlier than the original strain of the virus.

Ihekweazu, who spoke at the media briefing by the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 in Abuja on Thursday, said viruses by their nature would mutate, noting that the important thing was for people to stay calm and safe.

He said, “Over the last few days, we have monitored reports of the virus mutating in the UK, South Africa and some other countries but it is important to establish some facts about what we know; what we do not know and what we are willing to learn over the next few years.

“The most important fact to put out there to calm everybody’s nerves is that viruses mutate all the time.

“We haven’t found that UK strain but also, it is not something we have been looking for on the go; to find that, you have to do sequencing. And our focus has not been on sequencing. We did some sequencing in the past but we haven’t found that.”

“We only found two were similar but not the same. However, we are doing more sequencing. Is it possible that they are circulating? Yes. This is because there are a lot of travels between the UK and Nigeria.” Iheakwazu said the NCDC would collaborate with stakeholders to collect new samples for sequencing in order to determine their variant.

He noted, “This is ongoing work. It cannot happen in a hurry. It is very complex. Sequencing is not a straight-forward business which is why we have only a few centres that are able to do it.”

He also urged states to reopen their test centres, saying the NCDC alone could not conduct all COVID-19 tests sent in from the states.

He said the centre was working on adopting the use of Rapid Diagnostic Test Kits from next year in order to scale up testing in the country.

He said, “On testing, there is light at the end of the tunnel. By next year, we will be introducing the use of rapid test kits. We have made a significant procurement that is coming in January and through that, we are taking testing closer to the people away from the laboratories.”

 

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Lagos announces 10-week traffic diversion on Lagos-Ibadan expressway

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Lagos State Government has announced traffic diversion for 10 weeks on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway from the Old Tollgate to Berger section of the road.

The traffic diversion from Monday, January 30, 2023 to Friday, April 15, 2023, is in continuation of the ongoing rehabilitation work on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.

This is contained in a statement issued on Friday by the Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, Dr Frederic Oladeinde.

He however said going by the notification received, the construction would be carried out in short segments to minimise inconveniences for motorists while traffic on the Ibadan-bound carriageway would be narrowed to two lanes to allow for the reconstruction of half of the Ibadan-bound carriageway.

The commissioner explained that the U-turn in front of the Lagos State Emergency Centre will be temporarily closed to traffic, adding that motorists on the expressway will be diverted to the next U-turn at the Old Toll Gate by the traffic control point. In the same vein, Traffic from CMD Road intending to connect 7UP and Motorways on the Lagos bound carriageway will make use of the Old Tollgate/Traffic Point U–turn as well.

While emphasizing that trucks and heavy-duty vehicles will be diverted to Ojota Interchange, Oladeinde informed that traffic on CMD Road inbound the Expressway will be diverted to the entry point besides the FMW weighbridge to access the expressway on a contraflow as the exit route to the expressway by Caleb International School will equally be temporarily closed, adding that CMD Road will be used as an alternative for the displaced Ibadan bound traffic.

He appealed to the citizenry to shun indiscriminate stopping, waiting, and parking along CMD Road to complement the efforts of the Traffic Management Team deployed to manage vehicular movement.

He also said that signs showing directions would be mounted along the road to guide motorists.

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Gunmen behead Imo council boss after N6m ransom

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Gunmen have killed the sole administrator of Ideato North Local Government Area in Imo State, Chris Ohizu, two days after he was abducted.

Ohizu was abducted on Friday along with two other residents in his country home at Imoko in the Arondizuogu area.

The attackers also set his residence and vehicles ablaze.

The family of the late LGA boss was said to have paid N6m ransom to the gunmen to secure his release.

They reportedly collected the money and still went ahead to kill him.

Videos showing the battered head of the LGA boss appeared on social media in the early hours of Monday.

In one of the videos, the gunmen threatened to also attack the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, and other residents of the state.

Imo has witnessed a spate of violent attacks by gunmen in recent times .

The incident is coming some days after an about-to-wed couple was killed in Arondizogu, Ideato  orth LGA.

Henry Okoye, Imo police spokesperson, said the police commenced investigation into the matter, adding that the command would soon release a statement on the incident.

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CBN insists on Jan 31 deadline to phase out old naira notes

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says deadline for the old naira notes of N200, N500 and N1,000 to cease to be legal tender remains January 31.

The Kano Branch Controller, CBN, Alhaji Umar Ibrahim Biu, refused pleas from Nigerians to extend the deadline.

“The old naira notes will cease to be legal tender by January 31, 2023. Pay in your old banknotes to beat the rush,” he said.

The branch controller spoke during the apex bank’s sensitisation tour of the new naira notes in Kano metropolitan markets.

The sensitisation of the new banknotes was held in Wapa Bureau De Charge Market, Galadima, Sabon Gari, Kwari and Kofar Wanbai markets, organised principally for traders.

Ibrahim said the new naira notes had been produced enough for distribution to all the commercial banks in the country.

He threatened to slam sanctions on commercial banks hoarding the newly designed banknotes.

Reacting to complaints that the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) were still dispensing the old naira notes, the CBN branch controller said the CBN has sent its staff to inspect bank’s ATMs to ascertain those still dispensing old notes for query.

He said the traders have the right to report any bank found either hoarding the new naira notes or charging customers before allowing them to deposit their old naira notes.

“You have the right to report any bank found hoarding the new naira notes or refuse to collect your old naira notes before the 31st January 2023 deadline.

“No bank should refuse to collect the old naira notes until the deadline of 31st January, 2023,” he said.

He told the audience that CBN has directed commercial banks to desist from payment of new naira notes on the counter, except through ATMs, as part of efforts to check favouritism of customers regarding the new currency.

“CBN agents are going round to ensure banks comply with the directive of dispensing the new notes via ATM,” he assured.

He explained that there is no limit to the amount of old N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes one can deposit in their account.

He said the sensitisation was designed to enlighten the traders on the need to deposit the old notes before the deadline to avoid any loss.

He said the redesign of the naira notes was aimed at checking corruption and addressing inflation as well as boosting the nation’s economy.

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