Days after the federal government announced that it would procure COVID-19 vaccines and administer same to Nigerians at no cost, rumours of possible adverse effects of the vaccines are being peddled, prompting governors from the northern part of the country to sound a note of warning against peddlers of what they termed ‘conspiracy theories’.
The governors warned that people spreading rumours on the efficacy of the vaccine should stop, insisting that it is good and healthy for the people to take.
The chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum, Simon Lalong, who sounded the warning while speaking at a stakeholders meeting yesterday said some people were peddling conspiracy theories about the vaccine.
“I want to say that I will be the first to take the vaccine whenever it is available in Plateau State. Let us be careful of promoting unsubstantiated rumors,” the Northern Governors’ Forum chairman said.
Lalong said they were still hopeful that the drugs being developed by the Plateau State medical research team which are currently undergoing clinical examination will pass the necessary approvals.
He pointed out that this will also give the state another option for prevention and treatment, adding that this is the state’s own initiative and there is no conspiracy theory attached.
Lalong, who lamented the increase in COVID-19 related deaths in the state also, lamented the non-compliance of the laid down protocols aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
He stated: “As you may be aware, we are experiencing the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic where there is a resurgence of cases across the nation including here on the Plateau.
“Sadly in Plateau State, we are also recording increasing number of deaths and that is very worrisome. In the past weeks, we have seen some prominent persons in Plateau State and indeed across Nigeria die from COVID-19.”
Lalong further said that the state was recording more daily cases than before, stressing that he had invited stakeholders to rub minds on very important issues bordering on the security and well-being of their people.
“The most worrisome point here is that despite this situation, most citizens appear to be careless and reluctant to observe the COVID-19 protocols. In fact, many have abandoned and refused to observe simple protocols of wearing face masks, maintaining social distancing and washing hands regularly.”
20 Doctors Test Positive In Kwara
Meanwhile, no fewer than 20 Resident Doctors at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH) have contracted the deadly coronavirus.
President of the UITH branch of the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Dr Badmus Habeeb, made this known yesterday in Ilorin, Kwara State.
Habeeb said, “About 20 of our members have become infected in the last two to three weeks. I must reiterate that this is not the best of times for us, our families and the affected patients.”
He said the discovery of vaccine has brought hope and relief for everyone.
WHO Confirms 90m Cases Worldwide
According to the latest numbers from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the number of COVID-19 cases worldwide has surpassed 90 million, reaching 90,054,813 as of yesterday.
Globally, as of 9:47 am CET (0847 GMT) on Wednesday, there have been 90,054,813 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 1,945,610 deaths, reported to WHO.
The United States has remained at the top in both infection cases and fatalities, with 22,428,591 confirmed cases and 373,329 deaths reported to WHO.
It is followed by India with 10,495,147 cases and 151,529 deaths, and then Brazil, with 8,131,612 cases and 203,580 deaths.
Also severely affected were Russia with 3,448,203 cases, Britain with 3,118,522 cases, France with 2,740,656 cases, Italy with 2,289,021 cases and Spain with 2,111,782 cases.
On the list of death tolls after the top three were Mexico with 134,368 cases, Britain with 81,960 cases, Italy with 79,203 cases, France with 67,368 cases, Russia with 62,804 cases, Iran with 56,360 cases, and Spain with 52,275 cases.
According to WHO regional offices, the Americas remained the most affected area by COVID-19, with a total of 39,835,210 confirmed cases and 925,289 death cases, followed by Europe where 29,251,917 confirmed cases and 634,670 death cases have been reported.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus mutation first found in Britain has now spread to 50 territories, according to the World Health Organization, while a similar South African-identified strain has now been found in 20.
The UN body also noted a third new coronavirus “variant of concern” found in Japan may impact upon immune response and needs further investigation.
“The more the SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads, the more opportunities it has to change. High levels of transmission mean that we should expect more variants to emerge,” said the WHO.
Also, since it was first reported to the WHO on December 14, the British-identified variant VOC 202012/01 has been found in 50 countries, territories and areas, the agency said.
Test results showed the age and sex distribution was similar to that of other circulating variants, while contact tracing data revealed “higher transmissibility (secondary attack rates) where the index case has the variant strain”.
The South African-identified variant 501Y.V2, first reported on December 18, has now been detected in 20 countries, territories and areas.
“From preliminary and ongoing investigations in South Africa, it is possible that the 501Y.V2 variant is more transmissible than variants circulating in South Africa previously,” the WHO weekly report said.
“Moreover, while this new variant does not appear to cause more severe illness, the observed rapid increases in case numbers have placed health systems under pressure.”
Test Result Now Prerequisite For NYSC
Meanwhile, the director-general of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim, has reiterated that only prospective corps members who have tested negative to COVID-19 will be allowed into the camps nationwide for their orientation programme.
Ibrahim made this known yesterday during a courtesy visit to the director general, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Olusegun Runsewe in Abuja,
He said, “Once a prospective corps member is tested negative, the person will be registered and admitted into the camp before being addressed as a corps member. All staff and visitors will undergo the COVID-19 test before they get into the camps.
On the visit, Ibrahim said there was need to promote the relationship between the scheme and the council to bring out the talent from corps members both in culture and entertainment so that they could be self-reliant.
“The NYSC will generate revenue through Arts and Culture. The NYSC National Cultural Troupe has been established and they will promote the cultural heritage of Nigeria. They should be invited to perform at national and international festivals. The NYSC is working on a Film that will showcase the contribution of the scheme to national development” he added.
Earlier, the director general, National Council for Arts and Culture, Runsewe, noted that any country that wants to make progress must invest in the youth and get them empowered.
Runsewe said, “The NCAC and NYSC are two sides of the same coin. The National Festival of Arts and Culture brings the 36 states and FCT together for one week every year; it rotates from state to state. It is clear that both the NCAC and NYSC share similar visions. Once the youth are empowered, crime rate and unemployment will be reduced in the society.
“This partnership will reawaken the youths and train them on various skills and talent development to help them create jobs for themselves. I urge Nigerians not to stigmatise patients who have the virus because the virus is something that will leave us soon.”
Runsewe appealed to all Nigerians to support the NYSC scheme and encourage all institutions where they are posted not to reject them as youth corps members have the mandate to serve Nigerians
Schools Not Drivers Of Virus – UNICEF
Also, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has cautioned that no effort should be spared to keep schools open or prioritise them in reopening plans.
UNICEF executive director, Henrietta Fore, who gave the caution in a statement, lamented that children’s ability to read, write and do basic math has suffered, and the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century economy have diminished.
She said, “Despite overwhelming evidence of the impact of school closures on children, and despite increasing evidence that schools are not drivers of the pandemic, too many countries have opted to keep schools closed, some for nearly a year.
“The cost of closing schools – which at the peak of pandemic lockdowns affected 90 per cent of students worldwide and left more than a third of school children with no access to remote education – has been devastating.
“The number of out-of-school children is set to increase by 24 million, to a level we have not seen in years and have fought so hard to overcome.”
PDP Laments Poor Handling Of 2nd Wave
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said it is alarmed by what it called manifest lack of commitment and proactiveness by the Buhari administration to check the spate of the second wave of COVID-19 and the escalating deaths arising from the spread of the pandemic in the country.
The party said it is unpardonable that the lives of compatriots are increasingly becoming endangered, as citizens’ including prominent Nigerians’ deaths are daily being announced as a result of COVID-19, while the Buhari administration has remained lethargic with no concrete commitment for solution.
The PDP, in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said it is shocked that the Buhari administration did not make any budgetary provision in the 2021 Appropriation for the acquisition of essential therapeutics, including vaccines, even in the face of the heightened anxieties over the second wave of the pandemic in our nation.
The party stated: “It is indeed the height of leadership failure that the federal government has not been able to take a decision on the type and quantity of vaccines expected as well as ancillary facilities and associated logistics.
“The PDP is however not surprised at such governance indolence and confusion as the current system under President Muhammadu Buhari’s watch is plagued by endemic corruption, mediocrity, incompetence and laissez-faire attitude to issues that have to do with the wellbeing of Nigerians.
“It is on record that the lethargic attitude, for which the Buhari administration has become known, also encouraged the reported diversion of COVID-19 funds and palliatives meant to cushion the effect of the pandemic, leaving Nigerians to survive the last horrendous situation through self-help.”