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Whole of Shanghai enters COVID lockdown despite lower symptomatic cases

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Chinese authorities on Tuesday extended a lockdown in Shanghai to cover all of the financial centre’s 26 million people, despite growing anger over quarantine rules in the city, where latest results show only 268 symptomatic daily COVID-19 cases.

In a major test of China’s zero-tolerance strategy to eliminate the novel coronavirus, the government widened the lockdown to eastern parts of the city and extended until further notice restrictions in western districts, which had been due to expire on Tuesday.

The broader lockdown came after testing saw asymptomatic COVID-19 cases surge to more than 13,000. Symptomatic cases fell on Monday to 268, from 425 the previous day.

As a growing number of members of the public shared comments and videos across social media expressing frustration with the blanket lockdown, authorities showed no sign of wavering.

“Shanghai’s epidemic prevention and control is at the most difficult and most critical stage,” Wu Qianyu, an official with the municipal health commission, told a briefing.

“We must adhere to the general policy of dynamic clearance without hesitation, without wavering.”

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Shanghai’s quarantine policy has been criticised for separating children from parents and putting asymptomatic cases among those with symptoms. Wu did not comment on the uproar over family separations. On Monday she insisted that children who tested positive had to be kept apart.

One temporary treatment centre opened a 1,000-bed section for treating parents and children, the Shanghai Children Medical Center said on its social media account, but it was not clear if the new section indicated a wider change of policy.

Shanghai residents organised an online petition calling for asymptomatic children to be allowed to isolate at home, with at least 1,000 people signing but as of Tuesday, it was no longer accessible on the WeChat messaging app.

The city has set up about 47,700 beds in a number of newly built temporary hospitals in Shanghai, with another 30,000 being readied, state news agency Xinhua reported on Tuesday, citing Gu Honghui, deputy secretary general of the municipal government.

A total of 62 temporary quarantine sites have been designated in hotels, stadiums and exhibition centres, said Gu.

‘NOBODY KNOWS’

Shanghai imposed tough restrictions last week as it struggled to contain what has become its biggest COVID outbreak, after originally taking a more targeted approach.

Shanghai reported a record 13,086 new asymptomatic coronavirus cases on Monday, authorities said, up from 8,581 the previous day, after more than 25 million people were swabbed in 24 hours in the city-wide testing campaign.

Thousands of residents have been locked up in rudimentary quarantine facilities after testing positive, whether they are symptomatic or not.

Jane Polubotko, a Ukrainian marketing manager being held in the city’s biggest quarantine centre, told Reuters it was not clear when they would be released.

“Nobody knows how many tests we need to get out,” she said.

Chen Erzhen, a doctor in charge of one Shanghai quarantine facility, said in an interview with the Communist Party newspaper the People’s Daily at the weekend that it was possible that authorities would revise guidelines and allow asymptomatic people to stay home, especially if the number of cases mounted.

“The most important thing is the problem of personal compliance,” he said.

Sun Chunlan, vice-premier in charge of COVID prevention, urged grassroots Communist Party organisations to “do everything possible” to help residents solve problems, such as access to medicine, food and water.

The government said almost 80% of a total of 25.7 million swabs had been tested by Tuesday morning. Positive results are followed up on an individual level.

The proportion of asymptomatic cases is far higher in Shanghai than the rest of the world, which has been attributed to a screening process that catches infected people before they become ill. However, experts said it did not explain the fall in symptomatic cases.

Meanwhile, the costs to the world’s second-biggest economy mount.

Some 23 Chinese cities are under total or partial lockdown, affecting an estimated 193 million people in areas accounting for 13.6% of its gross domestic product, the Nomura brokerage said in a note on Tuesday.

Reuters

COVID-19

Ogun bags best performing state award in RI, Covid-19 vaccination

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Ogun State Deputy Governor, Engr. Noimot Salako-Oyedele

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.

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COVID-19: NAFDAC boss confirms Nigeria’s vaccines meet global standard

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NAFDAC Director General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye

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.

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FG to test locally-made COVID-19 vaccine in November

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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.

-The Punch

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