As part of measures to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the country, the federal government yesterday told state governments to ban Sallah festivities scheduled for Friday next week.
The secretary to the government of the federation, Boss Mustapha, who announced federal government’s position during the briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja, noted that while Sallah festivities come with a lot of mass gatherings, Nigerians must not forget that COVID-19 guidelines were still in place.
He said, “We also have cause to begin to advise Nigerians on the upcoming Eid-el Kabir Festival. This naturally comes with lots of mass gatherings but we must not forget that the guidelines are still in existence and the virus is very potent.
“We urge all state governments to ensure that guidelines are adhered to and the citizens should not indulge in activities that would allow for the spread of the virus and lives are endangered.
“We are encouraged by state governments that have announced ban on Sallah festivities and hope it will be upheld and replicated by other states. The national coordinator will also amplify on these issues”.
Mustapha further hinted that going forward, the task force may resort to virtual briefings to minimise risk of contracting the virus.
“As we progress however, the PTF might consider restructuring the mode of delivering some of its activities, relying more on technology, to minimise the risks associated with avoidable physical contacts,” he added.
LEADERSHIP reported yesterday that the Kano State government had placed a ban on public celebrations of the forthcoming Eid-el-Kabir to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
Sultan Declares July 31 Eid-el-Kabir
The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III yesterday declared Friday July 31, 2021 as the date for the Eid-el-Kabir celebrations.
Accordingly, he asked district heads and religious leaders to lead Eid prayers in Juma’at Mosques instead of Eid grounds.
Eid-el-kabir, which literally means “feast of sacrifice”, is an Islamic festival involving the killing of rams to commemorate the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim to follow Allah’s command to sacrifice his son, Ismail, before a lamb was later used for the sacrifice.
In a statement he issued yesterday, Abubakar called on Muslim faithful to pray for peace, progress and development in the country.
Nigeria Will Take Advantage Of Pandemic To Effect Changes – Osinbajo
As the federal government kick starts the implementation of the National Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP), Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said yesterday that Nigeria will take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to effect significant changes in the critical sectors of the country’s economy.
He also welcomed the move by the international community to support the successful execution of programmes encapsulated in the NESP.
According to a statement by his spokesman, Laolu Akande, the Vice President stated this at a virtual meeting yesterday with representatives of the international community from the United States (US), the European Union (EU), United Kingdom (UK), agencies of the United Nations, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The Industry, Trade and Investment Minister, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, a member of the Economic Sustainability Committee was also in attendance.
Osinbajo who applauded the commitment of the international community to support Nigeria’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic also noted that the country will take advantage of the crisis to effect significant changes in the critical sectors of the Nigerian economy.
He said, “I thank you for your generous comments about the Economic Sustainability Plan. We intend to implement that as closely as possible. We hope that when we get to some of the more technical aspects and full implementation, we will then be able to work with you and see in what areas you will be in the position to assist.
“We also look at the pandemic and post-pandemic period as a time when we can make some useful changes. We really are working towards ensuring that we take full advantage of the crisis. There is no question at all as to our determination to ensure that we are able to quickly surmount the challenges”.
The vice president also restated the government’s condolences on the recent killing of five aid workers on Wednesday in Borno State by Boko Haram insurgents.
Earlier in his remarks, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator of the United Nations System in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon who led the delegation said Nigeria’s response to the pandemic is well planned and articulated.
Kallon noted that interactions between with the Federal government and stakeholders would aid a smooth implementation of the plan.
NCDC Ranks Kano High In Massive Testing Capacity
The director-general of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, has said that Kano State is at the front burner of massive testing of COVID-19 cases when compared to other states across the country.
The DG said contrary to the what was obtained in the past when the state was showing sluggish responses due to lack of adequate testing centres in the state, there is a general improvement on its testing capacity now which is highly encouraging.
According to the DG, Kano is ranking high more than any state in Nigeria, adding that the state is not having as many cases as before.
“We are confident in their response to containing the pandemic now”, the NCDC DG said when he appeared in NTA’s Good Morning Nigeria Show.
“There was a time on this programme that everyone was criticising Kano for their bad responses but today the story had changed completely”, he noted.
He said when the situation was bad enough the NCDC had to send a powerful ministerial team to Kano to ascertain the quantum of lives lost either due the pandemic or mysterious death.
10,000 Health Workers Infected In Africa – WHO
The World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday warned of the threat posed by COVID-19 to health workers across Africa.
The warning came as more than 10, 000 health workers in the 40 African countries have been infected with COVID-19, a sign of the challenges medical staff on the frontlines of the outbreak face.
According to the global health body, there are now more than 750, 000 cases of COVID-19, with over 15, 000 deaths in Africa, worrying that some countries are approaching a critical number of infections that can place stress on health systems.
“The growth we are seeing in COVID-19 cases in Africa is placing an ever-greater strain on health services across the continent. This has very real consequences for the individuals who work in them, and there is no more sobering example of this than the rising number of health worker infections,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa said.
So far, about 10 per cent of all cases globally are among health workers, though there is a wide range between individual countries.
WHO said in Africa, information on health worker infections is still limited, but preliminary data finds that they make up more than 5 per cent of cases in 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa alone, and in four of these, health workers make up more than 10 per cent of all infections.
Nigeria, 4 Other Countries Account For 80% Cases In W’Africa – WAHO
Nigeria and four other countries have been identified as responsible for over 80 per cent of COVID-19 cases in West Africa, the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) has said.
Addressing mof ECOWAS Parliament during the second extra ordinary session which is holding via video conference, WAHO however said that the case fatality rate in the region is under control.
The director-general of WAHO, Stanley Okolo, while making a presentation to Parliament, said that as at July 16, the five countries recorded 84,118 cases out of the 96,936 cases in the region.
Mr Okolo said, “Five countries contributed almost 80 per cent of the COVID-19 cases in the region, namely: Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and Guinea.
“What is important is to note the case fatality rate: how many people died because of COVID-19.
UK Invests $127m To Scale Up Vaccine Manufacturing
Meanwhile, the government of UK has announced an investment of £100m ($127m) to scale up manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccine and gene therapy in the country.
The investment will support the new Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult Manufacturing Innovation Centre for expediting the mass production of a successful COVID-19 vaccine.
Scheduled to open in December next year, the Centre will have the capacity to manufacture millions of doses per month.
In Braintree, Essex, England, the investment will help upgrade an existing facility into a fully-licensed manufacturing centre.
This is intended to boost the country’s capability to respond to diseases such as COVID-19, as well as any other future pandemics.
It will also create new jobs to support economic recovery.
The new centre will support the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC), which is being built in Oxfordshire with a £93m government investment.
FCT, States To Receive N100m From REDISSE
The minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has said all states of the federation, including the FCT are receiving N100 million support from the COVID-19 response through the Regional Diseases Surveillance Enhancement (REDISSE) Project.
The minister who stated this during the Presidential Task Force (PTF) briefing yesterday said that the support was aimed at enhancing high impact priority response activities across the country.
“With this support, all States of the Federation will receive NGN100 million to enhance high impact priority response activities. The soon to be reactivated BHCPF will join the funding pool,” said Ehanire.
Speaking further, the minister noted that Tuesday July 21 was the reporting day of the Ministerial Expert Advisory Committee on COVID-19, when the leadership of the Ministry of Health’s Agencies and Departments received the second report from the chairman, Prof Tomori.
He added that their findings were highly instructive and will be shared with Agencies, the PTF and stakeholders.
Aviation Sector Developing Protocol For International Flights
The secretary to the government of the federation and chairman of the PTF, Boss Mustpha, yesterday called on Nigerians to avoid “fake news”, saying the aviation sector was working out protocol to resume international flight.
The SGF who stated this at the daily briefing of the presidential taskforce on COVID-19, said Nigerians must be patient and await the real date for the resumption of international flights as no date has been fixed yet.
He said, “The Aviation sector has been working assiduously to develop the protocols for the resumption of international air services.
“This PTF remains conscious of the significant contributions of air travels to economic growth and shall continue to push for a safe resumption.
“The next phase is for aviation regulators to engage with other stake holders to facilitate an integrated and seamless resumption of international flights. I plead with all Nigerians to await authentic information from the aviation authorities and discountenance fake news and speculation on dates.”