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COVID-19

Africa records over 500,000 cases of COVID-19

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) says COVID-19 infections in Africa have surpassed 500, 000 and there is concern as a growing number of countries are experiencing a sharp rise in cases.

WHO Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, Congo disclosed this in a statement posted on its website.

It said, so far, in less than five months, the virus had claimed 11, 959 lives, overtaking the 11, 308 lives lost in the world’s worst Ebola outbreak in West Africa between 2014 and 2016.

“Cases have more than doubled in 22 countries in the region over the past month; nearly two-thirds of countries are experiencing community transmission.

“Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa account for about 71 per cent of COVID-19 cases. South Africa alone accounts for 43 per cent of the continent’s total cases.

“However, the accelerating growth trend is not uniform across the continent, with some countries recording a steady rise in cases, indicating a protracted pandemic.

“Eritrea, Gambia, Mali, Seychelles and Togo are witnessing long doubling times and low growth rates.

“Seychelles had not experienced a case in nearly two months, but in the past week had dozens of new imported cases, linked to crew members of an international fishing vessel.’’

According to the statement, there are also some signs of progress as 10 countries have experienced a downward trend over the past month.

Although, it said Egypt accounted for 15 per cent of cumulative cases, it has seen a decline in the past week.

The statement quoted Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Director for Africa, as saying: “ with more than a third of countries in Africa doubling their cases over the past month, the threat of COVID-19 overwhelming fragile health systems on the continent is escalating.

“So far, the continent has avoided disaster and if countries continue to strengthen key public health measures such as testing, tracing contacts and isolating cases, we can slow down the spread of the virus to a manageable level.”

The UN health agency said 88 per cent of COVID-19 infections are among people aged 60 and below, likely due to Africa’s relatively young population.

“However, the likelihood of dying from COVID-19 rises with increasing age and the existence of co-morbidities, with the risk of death among patients aged 60 years and above being 10 times higher compared with those below 60.’’

The statement also quoted Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, as saying “communities across the continent have a crucial role to play in controlling the pandemic.

“They have a role to play in controlling the pandemic, especially as countries begin easing lockdowns and opening up their borders.

“As governments continue to implement public health measures, individuals must remain as cautious and vigilant as ever to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.

“Hand washing, mask use, physical distancing and other preventative measures are key to controlling transmission, saving lives, and ensuring that already overwhelmed health systems are not stretched to breaking point.”

The UN health agency further said as COVID-19 continued to spread, thousands of health workers had also fallen ill.

“Equipping and protecting health workers is one of the central pillars of the COVID-19 response.

“WHO is working to support countries respond to COVID-19 by providing technical guidance, crucial medical equipment and has remotely trained more than 25 000 health workers.

“WHO has also organised more than 420 shipments of key equipment.

“These equipment include more than 3,000 oxygen concentrators, 23, 000 GeneXpert diagnostic testing machines and almost four million pieces of personal protective equipment for health care workers,’’ it said.

COVID-19

ECOWAS donates food items worth $4million to Nigeria, 3 others

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has donated food items worth $4 million to four member states, including Nigeria, to mitigate impacts of their humanitarian needs.

Ms Fatima Jagne, ECOWAS Commissioner for Gender and Social Affairs, made this known during the commemoration of the 2020 World Humanitarian Day on Wednesday in Abuja,

Jagne, who was represented by Mr Alozie Godfrey from the directorate, said the intervention was aimed at reducing the pains and sufferings of those in humanitarian needs.

She said the need for humanitarian services were on the increase worldwide but the challenges of delivering them were also increasing in a world that is conflict and disaster saturated.

Jagne said this, however, called for support of efforts by states and other actors to prevent crisis and build resilience of the population against natural disasters.

“The ECOWAS commission will continue its collaboration with member states and partners to promote the protection of humanitarian workers through policy implementation, sensitisation and advocacy.

“The commission will also continue to respond to the plights of the affected population through the donation of food and non-food items to reduce the sufferings of the vulnerable population.

“In this regard, the commission is handing over food worth over four million US Dollars to four member countries including Nigeria to assuage the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Jange said.

Jagne said that this year, COVID-19 had been the biggest challenge to humanitarian operations around the world.

She added that the lack of access and restrictions placed by governments around the world had resulted in communities, civil society and local NGOs being the frontline of the response.

This situation, she said, emphasised the reason for localisation of resources to enhance the first responder initiative.

She said that unfortunately, the ECOWAS region was seriously impacted by both crises and the COVID – 19 pandemic.

Jagne said the theme for this year’s celebration, #RealLifeHeroes, focused on what motivated humanitarians to continue to save and protect lives regardless of conflict, insecurity, lack of access, and risks linked to COVID-19.

“This year’s campaign affords us the opportunity to appreciate the inspiring and selfless assistance carried out by humanitarians who risk and dedicate their lives in crisis and peace times treating and preventing COVID-19.

“Administering vaccines, providing food, setting up safe spaces for women and girls, and containing locust invasions despite the pandemic.

“We all must join hands in supporting our #RealLifeHeroes this World Humanitarian Day and going forward.

“As humanitarian workers deliver aid, and medical workers help the injured and sick, often times, they are directly targeted and prevented from bringing relief and care to those in distress,” Jagne said.

Jagne said that given the recklessness exhibited in modern warfare, civilians more often than not, became targets of most conflicts.

She, however, called for the moral and legal obligation of all parties to a conflict to abide by the rules of International Humanitarian Law as provided by Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Additional Protocols.

“Preventive and proactive peacetime measures aimed at ensuring better respect for International Humanitarian Law must be encouraged.

“These actions will help create the enabling environment for aid workers to work,” she said.

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COVID-19

UPDATE: Lagos to reopen worship centres, restaurants on August 7, 14

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Lagos state government has announced that all religious centres and restaurants are to resume operations from August 7th and 14th, 2020 respectively.

While religious centres are expected to operate at 50% capacity, the restaurant are expected to operate eat-in services.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said “While we try to ensure that life gradually returns to normal, we implore residents to continue to use face masks in public spaces and adhere strictly to all the public health safety measures and guidelines.

“At this point, I have to emphasize how important and necessary it is for us to self-regulate. Everyone of us must take up the mantle of responsibility and ensure that we are self-regulating ourselves in our interest and in the interest of our loved ones.”

 

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COVID-19

India donates medicine worth $50 million to Nigeria, others

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As part of her plans to combat COVID-19 pandemic, India has donated essential medicines worth $50 million to Nigeria and other African countries.

This was disclosed by the High Commissioner of India to Nigeria, Mr Abhay Thakur, in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja after he donated some items to the Federal Government.

According to NAN, the Government of India had on Friday donated seven tonnes of consignment of essential medicines, including hydroxycholoroquine and medicine, including antibiotics to Nigeria.

The seven tonnes of consignments (586 cartoons) were received by the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, on behalf of the Federal Government.

The envoy said, “It would be very difficult to put a cost on the items donated. I will say for the whole of Africa, our donation is more than $50 million.

Thakur said India would be willing to collaborate with Nigeria on production of COVID-19 vaccine, as the country had made some progress in the development of the vaccine.

He said, “There are many centres in India where serious work and research is happening; there are institutions that are working across India to produce vaccine.

“One of the most promising one is developed by one of the institutions and has already gone into first phase of testing; we hope phase two will start soon.

“We hope to hear encouraging news about COVID-19 vaccine on the forthcoming India independence day, which is on August 15.”

The envoy said India would continue to support Nigeria in building the capacity of its human resources as it continued to offer e-ITEC training ( Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation).

“We are offering short online webinars on COVID-19 management and research; there are about 10 programmes; we are working together and we will continue to do so.

“So far, 14 Nigerian medical professionals have benefited from online courses on COVID-19 management strategies in Africa.

“Our focus now is on capacity building but we can expand to research. I will take this message home and encourage some of our researchers to work with Nigeria on medical research.’’

He expressed optimism that the measures taken by the two countries had helped to manage the spread of COVID-19.

“In fact, I will like to mention here what President Muhammadu Buhari said in his speech in early May that India had taken strong measures and very strong lockdown measure to curb the virus.

“The exchange of experience is very important and we look to each other in combating this pandemic,” he added.

India had been enjoying longstanding, multifaceted, friendly relations and deep-rooted bilateral relations with Nigeria since it established its Diplomatic House in Lagos in November 1958, two years before Nigeria became independent on Oct. 1, 1960.

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