Home Blog

BREAKING: U.S. coronavirus death toll hits roughly 2500

0
aerial-photography-of-city-during-evening-161772
Las Vegas

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus has killed nearly 2500 people in the United States, up from about 2200 the previous 24 hours, according to latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

About 260 people died on Sunday from COVID-19 in the United States, a drop from the previous 24 hours when over 500 succumbed to the deadly bug.

The number of new cases also went down from over 19,000 on Saturday to over 18,000 on Sunday, according to the latest virus tracker tally.

New York state remained the epicenter of the virus in the United States on Sunday. The state had around 55,000 active cases and 1000 deaths.

That number of active cases is more than one-third of all the coronavirus cases in the United States that stood at over 142,000 on Monday morning, according to latest data. About 5,000 people have recovered so far. These number were changing rapidly.

Globally, more than 722,000 people have contracted the coronavirus. While about 152,000 have recovered, roughly 34,000 have died.

German finance minister Thomas Schäfer commits suicide over coronavirus economic concerns

0
In this file picture taken April 24, 2019 Thomas Schäfer (CDU), Minister of Finance of Hesse, comments on the status of the evaluation of the
In this file picture taken April 24, 2019 Thomas Schäfer (CDU), Minister of Finance of Hesse, comments on the status of the evaluation of the "Panama Papers" at a press conference in Frankfurt, Germany.(Andreas Arnold/AP)

A German finance minister Thomas Schäfer is believed to have committed suicide over concerns the fast spreading novel coronavirus would have severe economic consequences on his state.

DW News reported that the body of 54-year old finance expert from the central German state Hesse was found on railroad tracks near Frankfurt over the weekend.

Police was reported to believe suicide was to blame while German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung claimed a suicide note was left behind.

A report said “the state’s premier Volker Bouffier said Schäfer, who had been the finance minister for nearly a decade, was worried about Hesse’s ability to react to the economic devastation felt from the coronavirus”.

“His main concern was whether he could manage to fulfill the huge expectations of the population, especially in terms of financial aid,” Bouffier said on Sunday. “For him, there was clearly no way out. He was disappointed and so he had to leave us. That has shocked us, has shocked me.”

NDTV reported that the finance minister had a wife and two children.

“Schäfer, like Chancellor Angela Merkel, was a member of Germany’s CDU party. Multi-national financial institutions including Deutsche Bank are headquartered in the banking city of Frankfurt, which is in Hesse,” a report said.

BREAKING: 135 deaths, 311 recoveries and 4,368 coronavirus infections in 46 African countries

0
cape Town| Robben Island, Southwest Coast
Cape Town| Robben Island, Southwest Coast

At least 135 people have died from coronavirus in Africa, up from 117 on Saturday, according to latest figures compiled by the Africa CDC and released by the African Union on Sunday. About 311 people have fully recovered from the 4,368 infections, up from nearly 4000 a day earlier.

While Central Africa had 229 cases, 9 deaths, 6 recoveries, Eastern Africa had 331 cases, 4 deaths and 6 recoveries. Northern Africa had 1,751 cases, 99 deaths and 211 recoveries and Southern Africa had 1,236 cases, 2 deaths and 31 recoveries. Western Africa had 821 cases, 21 deaths and 57 recoveries as of 5 p.m. East African Time on March 29, 2020.

Details below

Central (229 cases, 9 deaths, 6 recoveries):  Cameroon (113, 2, 2), Central African Republic (6, 0, 3), Chad (5, 0, 0), Congo (19, 0, 0), DRC (65, 6, 1), Equatorial Guinea (14, 0, 0), Gabon (7, 1, 0)

Eastern (331, 4, 6): Djibouti (19, 0, 0), Eritrea (6, 0, 0), Ethiopia (19, 0, 4), Kenya (38, 1, 1), Madagascar (28, 0, 0), Mauritius (102, 2, 0), Rwanda (60, 0, 0), Seychelles (8, 0, 0), Somalia (3, 0, 0), Sudan (5, 1, 0), Tanzania (13, 0, 1), Uganda (30, 0, 0)

Northern (1,751, 99, 211): Algeria (454, 29, 77), Egypt (576, 36, 121), Libya (3, 0, 0), Mauritania (3, 0, 0), Morocco (437, 26, 12), Tunisia (278, 8, 1)

Southern (1,236, 2, 31): Angola (3, 0, 0 ), Eswatini (8, 0, 0), Mozambique (8, 0, 0),  Namibia (11, 0, 0), South Africa (1,170, 1, 31), Zambia (29, 0, 0), Zimbabwe (7, 1, 0)

Western (821, 21, 57): Benin (6, 0, 0), Burkina Faso (207, 11, 21), Cape Verde (5, 1, 0), Côte d’Ivoire (140, 0, 3), Gambia (3, 1, 0), Ghana (152, 5, 2), Guinea (8, 0, 0), Guinea-Bissau (2, 0, 0), Liberia (3, 0, 0), Mali (18, 0, 0), Niger (10, 1, 0), Nigeria (97, 1, 3), Senegal (142, 0, 27), Togo (28, 1, 1).

Buhari shuts Nigeria’s most populous state Lagos and capital Abuja for 14 days to combat COVID-19

0
President Buhari at the 29th Forum of Heads of State and Government of Participating States of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) at the AU Summit in Addis Ababa on 8th Feb 2020
President Buhari at the 29th Forum of Heads of State and Government of Participating States of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) at the AU Summit in Addis Ababa on 8th Feb 2020

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has locked down most populous state, Lagos, capital Abuja, and Ogun state, for 14 days, to contain the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

In a televised address on Sunday, Mr. Buhari, 77, said residents of Lagos, Abuja and Ogun state must stay home for an initial 14 days as all movements have been suspended.

Inter-state movements have also been suspended. The quarantine takes effect from Monday March 30, 2020, at 11 p.m. local time.

President Buhari said movements of all passenger aircraft, both commercial and private jets, are also suspended. Special permits, he added, will be issued “on a needs basis”.

“Based on the advice of the Federal Ministry of Health and the NCDC, I am directing the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days with effect from 11pm on Monday, 30th March 2020. This restriction will also apply to Ogun State due to its close proximity to Lagos and the high traffic between the two States,” Mr. Buhari said.

“All citizens in these areas are to stay in their homes. Travel to or from other states should be postponed. All businesses and offices within these locations should be fully closed during this period.

“The Governors of Lagos and Ogun States as well as the Minister of the FCT have been notified. Furthermore, heads of security and intelligence agencies have also been briefed,” he said.

He said the “containment period” will be used “to identify, trace and isolate all individuals that have come into contact with confirmed cases”.

“We will ensure the treatment of confirmed cases while restricting further spread to other States,” the Nigerian leader added.

He said his order does not apply to hospitals and all related medical establishments as well as organizations in health care related manufacturing and distribution. 

“Furthermore, commercial establishments  such as; food processing, distribution and retail companies; petroleum distribution and retail entities, power generation, transmission and distribution companies; and private security companies are also exempted.

“Although these establishments are exempted, access will be restricted and monitored,” he added.

Mr. Buhari said workers in telecommunication companies, broadcasters, print and electronic media staff who can prove they are unable to work from home are also exempted.

“All seaports in Lagos shall remain operational in accordance with the guidelines I issued earlier. Vehicles and drivers conveying essential cargoes from these Ports to other parts of the country will be screened thoroughly before departure by the Ports Health Authority,” the Nigerian leader said.

Read full speech below

1.   Fellow Nigerians,

2.   From the first signs that Coronavirus, or COVID-19 was turning into an epidemic and was officially declared a world-wide emergency, the Federal Government started planning preventive, containment and curative measures in the event the disease hits Nigeria.

3.   The whole instruments of government are now mobilized to confront what has now become both a health emergency and an economic crisis.

4.   Nigeria, unfortunately, confirmed its first case on 27th February 2020. Since then, we have seen the number of confirmed cases rise slowly.

5.    By the morning of March 29th, 2020, the total confirmed cases within Nigeria had risen to ninety-seven.

6.   Regrettably, we also had our first fatality, a former employee of PPMC, who died on 23rd March 2020. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family in this very difficult time. We also pray for quick recovery for those infected and undergoing treatment.

7.   As of today, COVID-19 has no cure. Scientists around the world are working very hard to develop a vaccine.

8.   We are in touch with these institutions as they work towards a solution that will be certified by international and local medical authorities within the shortest possible time.

9.    For now, the best and most efficient way to avoid getting infected is through regular hygienic and sanitary practices as well as social distancing.

10.    As individuals, we remain the greatest weapon to fight this pandemic. By washing our hands regularly with clean water and soap, disinfecting frequently used surfaces and areas, coughing into a tissue or elbow and strictly adhering to infection prevention control measures in health facilities, we can contain this virus.  

11.    Since the outbreak was reported in China, our Government has been monitoring the situation closely and studying the various responses adopted by other countries.

12.    Indeed, the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) was one of ten global health leaders invited by the World Health Organisation to visit China and understudy their response approach. I am personally very proud of Dr Ihekweazu for doing this on behalf of all Nigerians. 

13.    Since his return, the NCDC has been implementing numerous strategies and programs in Nigeria to ensure that the adverse impact of this virus on our country is minimized. We ask all Nigerians to support the work the Federal Ministry of Health and NCDC are doing, led by the Presidential Task Force.

14.    Although we have adopted strategies used globally, our implementation programs have been tailored to reflect our local realities.

15.     In Nigeria, we are taking a two step approach.

16.    First, to protect the lives of our fellow Nigerians and residents living here and second, to preserve the livelihoods of workers and business owners to ensure their families get through this very difficult time in dignity and with hope and peace of mind.  

17.     To date, we have introduced healthcare measures, border security, fiscal and monetary policies in our response. We shall continue to do so as the situation unfolds.

18.    Some of these measures will surely cause major inconveniences to many citizens. But these are sacrifices we should all be willing and ready to make for the greater good of our country.

19.    In Nigeria’s fight against COVID-19, there is no such thing as an overreaction or an under reaction. It is all about the right reaction by the right agencies and trained experts.

20.    Accordingly, as a Government, we will continue to rely on guidance of our medical professionals and experts at the Ministry of Health, NCDC and other relevant agencies through this difficult time.

21.     I therefore urge all citizens to adhere to their guidelines as they are released from time to time.

22.    As we are all aware, Lagos and Abuja have the majority of confirmed cases in Nigeria. Our focus therefore remains to urgently and drastically contain these cases, and to support other states and regions in the best way we can.

23.    This is why we provided an initial intervention of fifteen billion Naira (N15b) to support the national response as we fight to contain and control the spread.

24.     We also created a Presidential Task Force (PTF) to develop a workable National Response Strategy that is being reviewed on a daily basis as the requirements change. This strategy takes international best practices but adopts them to suit our unique local circumstances.

25.    Our goal is to ensure all States have the right support and manpower to respond immediately.

26.    So far, in Lagos and Abuja, we have recruited hundreds of ad-hoc staff to man our call centers and support our tracing and testing efforts.

27.    I also requested, through the Nigeria Governors Forum, for all State Governments to nominate Doctors and Nurses who will be trained by the NCDC and Lagos State Government on tactical and operational response to the virus in case it spreads to other states.

28.     This training will also include medical representatives from our armed forces, paramilitary and security and intelligence agencies.

29.    As a nation, our response must be guided, systematic and professional. There is a need for consistency across the nation. All inconsistencies in policy guidelines between Federal and State agencies will be eliminated.

30.    As I mentioned earlier, as at this morning we had ninety-seven confirmed cases. Majority of these are in Lagos and Abuja. All the confirmed cases are getting the necessary medical care.

31.    Our agencies are currently working hard to identify cases and people these patients have been in contact with.

32.    The few confirmed cases outside Lagos and Abuja are linked to persons who have travelled from these centres.

33.    We are therefore working to ensure such inter state and intercity movements are restricted to prevent further spread.

34.    Based on the advice of the Federal Ministry of Health and the NCDC, I am directing the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days with effect from 11pm on Monday, 30th March 2020. This restriction will also apply to Ogun State due to its close proximity to Lagos and the high traffic between the two States.

35.    All citizens in these areas are to stay in their homes. Travel to or from other states should be postponed. All businesses and offices within these locations should be fully closed during this period.

36.    The Governors of Lagos and Ogun States as well as the Minister of the FCT have been notified. Furthermore, heads of security and intelligence agencies have also been briefed.

37.    We will use this containment period to identify, trace and isolate all individuals that have come into contact with confirmed cases. We will ensure the treatment of confirmed cases while restricting further spread to other States.

38.     This order does not apply to hospitals and all related medical establishments as well as organizations in health care related manufacturing and distribution.  

39.    Furthermore, commercial establishments  such as;

a.    food processing, distribution and retail companies;

b.    petroleum distribution and retail entities,

c.    power generation, transmission and distribution companies; and

d.   private security companies are also exempted.

40.    Although these establishments are exempted, access will be restricted and monitored.

41.    Workers in telecommunication companies, broadcasters, print and electronic media staff who can prove they are unable to work from home are also exempted.

42.    All seaports in Lagos shall remain operational in accordance with the guidelines I issued earlier. Vehicles and drivers conveying essential cargoes from these Ports to other parts of the country will be screened thoroughly before departure by the Ports Health Authority.

43.    Furthermore, all vehicles conveying food and other essential humanitarian items into these locations from other parts of the country will also be screened thoroughly before they are allowed to enter these restricted areas.

44.    Accordingly, the Hon. Minister of Health is hereby directed to redeploy all Port Health Authority employees previously stationed in the Lagos and Abuja Airports to key roads that serve as entry and exit points to these restricted zones.

45.    Movements of all passenger aircraft, both commercial and private jets, are hereby suspended. Special permits will be issued on a needs basis.

46.    We are fully aware that such measures will cause much hardship and inconvenience to many citizens. But this is a matter of life and death, if we look at the dreadful daily toll of deaths in Italy, France and Spain.  

47.    However, we must all see this as our national and patriotic duty to control and contain the spread of this virus. I will therefore ask all of us affected by this order to put aside our personal comfort to safeguard ourselves and fellow human beings. This common enemy can only be controlled if we all come together and obey scientific and medical advice.

48.    As we remain ready to enforce these measures, we should see this as our individual contribution in the war against COVID-19. Many other countries have taken far stricter measures in a bid to control the spread of the virus with positive results.

49.    For residents of satellite and commuter towns and communities around Lagos and Abuja whose livelihoods will surely be affected by some of these restrictive measures, we shall deploy relief materials to ease their pains in the coming weeks. 

50.    Furthermore, although schools are closed, I have instructed the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to work with State Governments in developing a strategy on how to sustain the school feeding program during this period without compromising our social distancing policies. The Minister will be contacting the affected States and agree on detailed next steps.

51.    Furthermore, I have directed that a three month repayment moratorium for all TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni loans be implemented with immediate effect.

52.    I have also directed that a similar moratorium be given to all Federal Government funded loans issued by the Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture and the Nigeria Export Import Bank.

53.    For on-lending facilities using capital from international and multilateral development partners, I have directed our development financial institutions to engage these development partners and negotiate concessions to ease the pains of the borrowers.

54.    For the most vulnerable in our society, I have directed that the conditional cash transfers for the next two months be paid immediately. Our Internally displaced persons will also receive two months of food rations in the coming weeks.

55.    We also call on all Nigerians to take personal responsibility to support those who are vulnerable within their communities, helping them with whatever they may need.

56.    As we all pray for the best possible outcome, we shall continue planning for all eventualities.

57.    This is why I directed that all Federal Government Stadia, Pilgrims camps and other facilities be converted to isolation centers and makeshift hospitals.

58.     My fellow Nigerians, as a Government, we will avail all necessary resources to support the response and recovery. We remain committed to do whatever it takes to confront COVID-19 in our country.

59.    We are very grateful to see the emerging support of the private sector and individuals to the response as well as our development partners.  

60.    At this point, I will ask that all contributions and donations be coordinated and centralized to ensure efficient and impactful spending. The Presidential Task Force remains the central coordinating body on the COVID-19 response.

61.    I want to assure you all that Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies with a role to play in the outbreak response are working hard to bring this virus under control.

62.    Every nation in the world is challenged at this time. But we have seen countries where citizens have come together to reduce the spread of the virus.

63.    I will therefore implore you again to strictly comply with the guidelines issued and also do your bit to support Government and the most vulnerable in your communities.

64.    I will take this opportunity to thank all our public health workforce, health care workers, port health authorities and other essential staff on the frontlines of the response for their dedication and commitment. You are true heroes.

65.    I thank you all for listening. May God continue to bless and protect us all.

President Muhammadu Buhari

29th March 2020.

BREAKING: 756 dead from coronavirus in Italy in past 24 hours bringing total death toll to 10,779

0
Italian flag
Italian flag

Coronavirus again claimed the lives of 756 people in Italy in the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll in Europe’s hardest hit country to 10,779.

The new figures by the Civil Protection Agency were still high, but slower than the country’s largest daily toll on Friday, when 919 people died, and on Saturday, when 889 deaths were reported.

Italy now accounts for more than a third of all global deaths from the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed more than 30,000 lives.

The total number of confirmed cases in Italy rose on Sunday to 97,689 from 92,472 on Saturday.

Although still high, it was the lowest daily rise in new cases since Wednesday.

Today’s data showed that 13,030 people have fully recovered from 12,384 as of Saturday.

About 3,906 people were in intensive care, up from 3,856 on Saturday.

Lombardy, the hardest hit Italian region, reported a rise in deaths of around 416 on Sunday as per Reuters.

EFCC writes local Nigerian newspaper The Punch to demand apology and retraction of “libellous publication against Magu”

0

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has written a litigation threat to the PUNCH (Nig) Limited, publishers of The PUNCH Newspapers, demanding for the retraction of its libellous publication against the Acting Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, as well as an unreserved apology over the defamatory publication against Mr. Magu.

Addressed to the Managing Editor/Editor-In-Chief of the newspaper, Mr. Ademola Osinubi, and signed by it’s Secretary, Mr. Ola Olukoyede, the EFCC described as libellous, vexatious, defamatory and damaging, a piece written by Abimbola Adelakun on March 5, 2020 titled, “The Real Trouble With Magu”.

The letter dated March 6, 2020 was received by The PUNCH on March 17, 2020.

It reads in part: “For the avoidance of doubt, Adelakun’s usage of defamatory and libellous words have damaged the integrity of Mr. Magu in the eyes of Nigerians and outside world…

“We therefore demand a retraction of the libellous words and tendering of unreserved apology in conspicuous place in your newspaper within seven days.

“Please note that the Commission will not hesitate to commence litigation without recourse to you if our demands are not met within the stipulated time.”

Olukoyede further listed several libellous words contained in Adelakun’s piece and warned that the EFCC would not hesitate to commence litigation against The PUNCH, if the demands of retraction and apology were not met within seven days of the receipt of the Commission’s letter.

Olukoyede warned that The PUNCH and Adelakun will have to prove in court, the justification for the libellous and defamatory words against the EFCC boss.

According to Olukoyede, as a substantive Commissioner of Police and internationally recognized Anti-corruption czar, Magu “has discharged his responsibilities with absolute dedication and resourcefulness” and he does not deserve any “reckless use of libellous and defamatory words by Abimbola Adelakun”.

Adelakun, a columnist with The PUNCH, in the offensive piece, raised several parochial issues against Magu, which reeked of malice, bitterness and direct attacks on his hard-earned reputation.

Coronavirus could kill between 100,000 and 200,000 people in U.S., foremost infection disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci warns

0
Washington DC during coronavirus quarantine March 22, 2020. Photo: Simon Ateba
Washington DC during coronavirus quarantine March 22, 2020. Photo: Simon Ateba

The novel coronavirus wreaking havoc around the world could kill between 100,000 and 200,000 people in the United States and infect millions others, American foremost infection disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Sunday.

“I would say between 100,000 and 200,000 cases,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union” before correcting himself to say by ‘cases’ he meant ‘deaths’.

“We’re going to have millions of cases.” But he added “I don’t want to be held to that” because the pandemic is “such a moving target.”

On NBC’s “Meet the Press.”, Dr. Deborah Birx, head of the White House coronavirus task force, said parts of the country with few cases so far must prepare for what’s to come. “No state, no metro area, will be spared,” she said

More than 500 people died from coronavirus in the United States in the past 24 hours, more than any other day since the deadly bug was first reported in Washington state, according to a virus tracker that compiles data from all states.

Overall, about 2200 people have died in the United States from coronavirus, according to the latest tally.

The data also shows there were at least 525 new deaths in the United States on Saturday with at least 19,452 new cases. Overall, the United States now has close to 125,000 cases of coronavirus with more than 2600 recoveries, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York said New York is trying to procure ventilators in preparation for possible apex (when curve hits the highest point). Apex in New York is estimated in 14-21 days from now.

“We’ll keep COVID-19 patients separated from the other patients in hospitals. We can now test for antibodies to determine whether a person had COVID-19. This is a blood test,” he said at his daily news conference alone.

Many experts predict that things will continue to get worse for another two to three weeks before they get better. That means the number will continue to grow exponentially with a daily death toll probably reaching one thousand and then beginning to come down rapidly as well.

This will happen if the current measures put in place, including physical distancing, hygiene and respiratory etiquettes continue to be enforced all over the country.

While New York remains the epicenter of the crisis in the United States with more deaths and new cases, more than 180 people have also died in Washington state, 140 in New Jersey, 111 in California, 137 in Louisiana and elsewhere, according to the new tally.

On Saturday,President Trump sent U.S. Navy hospital ship to New York City with supplies and medical personnel to aid in the coronavirus pandemic response.

“This great ship behind me is a 70,000-ton message of hope and solidarity to the incredible people of New York, a place I know very well, a place I love,” Trump said at the Norfolk Naval Station.before sending off the USNS Comfort. “We’re here for you. We’re fighting for you and we’re with you all the way and we always will be.”

Many of the new cases came from New York where there are now close to 900 dead overall.

The associated Press added that Fauci’s prognosis came as the federal government “weighs rolling back guidelines on social distancing in areas that have not been as hard-hit by the outbreak at the conclusion of the nationwide 15-day effort to slow the spread of the virus.”

SEE IT: Nigerian officials arrest self-styled General Overseer of Jesus Reign Family Church during massive service amid coronavirus restrictions

0
Pastor Uden, the Self-styled General Overseer of Jesus Reign Family Church located at Apo.
Pastor Uden, the Self-styled General Overseer of Jesus Reign Family Church located at Apo.

The Nigerian enforcement team in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, on Sunday arrested a self-styled General Overseer of Jesus Reign Family Church located at Apo.

Pastor Uden was arrested for violating the ban on gathering at places on worship to contain the fast spreading coronavirus pandemic.

President Muhammadu Buhari will finally address Nigerians on Sunday as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus continues to rise by the day.

“President Muhammadu Buhari will broadcast to the nation Sunday, March 29, 2020 at 7pm. Television, radio and other electronic media outlets are enjoined to hook up to the network services of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) respectively for the broadcast,” spokesman Femi Adesina said in a brief statement.

RIGHT NOW:

Nigeria now has 97 confirmed cases of coronavirus. One person has died and three have recovered.

There are now 59 confirmed cases in Lagos, 14 in the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja, 3 in Ogun, 1 in Ekiti, 7 in Oyo, 2 in Edo, 2 in Bauchi, 2 in Osun, 2 in Rivers and 2 in Enugu, 1 in Benue and 1 in Kaduna, the Nigerian center of disease control (NCDC) said in a tweet on Saturday.

Nigeria has taken some measures, with school closures, borders’ closures, crowd control measures and sensitization campaigns on hygiene and respiratory etiquettes, including sneezing and coughing away from people.

BUT, BUT…

Despite the few cases, the World Health Organization(WHO) on Friday sent a dire warning to Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, to stop the spread of COVID-19 now that cases are still few or it may be too late, too hard, or almost impossible to deal with a much bigger and wider crisis.

Speaking from the WHO headquarters in Geneva, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Nigeria should seize the opportunity now that it has few cases to stop the virus from spreading by conducting enough testing, identifying those who test positive, isolating them and following up with contacts’ tracing.

He said those early measures would prevent the disease from growing from sporadic cases to a community transmission that may become harder to contain.

“The problem comes when community transmission starts, when the number of cases builds,” Dr. Ghebreyesus said, adding that when that happens, it becomes difficult or almost impossible to “quarantine” many people.

“The growing number of cases means the healthcare system could be overwhelmed,” he said, adding that Nigeria needs to cut the spread of COVID-19 now before it’s too late.

He said Nigeria should invest more in public health interventions and follow WHO guidelines about COVID-19 to prevent the spread of the deadly bug.

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

President Buhari to finally address Nigerians as coronavirus cases rise

0
President Buhari arrives Abuja after his participation at the UK-Africa Investment Summit on 23rd Jan 2020
President Buhari arrives Abuja after his participation at the UK-Africa Investment Summit on 23rd Jan 2020

President Muhammadu Buhari will finally address Nigerians on Sunday as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus continues to rise by the day.

“President Muhammadu Buhari will broadcast to the nation Sunday, March 29, 2020 at 7pm. Television, radio and other electronic media outlets are enjoined to hook up to the network services of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) respectively for the broadcast,” spokesman Femi Adesina said in a brief statement.

RIGHT NOW:

Nigeria now has 97 confirmed cases of coronavirus. One person has died and three have recovered.

There are now 59 confirmed cases in Lagos, 14 in the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja, 3 in Ogun, 1 in Ekiti, 7 in Oyo, 2 in Edo, 2 in Bauchi, 2 in Osun, 2 in Rivers and 2 in Enugu, 1 in Benue and 1 in Kaduna, the Nigerian center of disease control (NCDC) said in a tweet on Saturday.

Nigeria has taken some measures, with school closures, borders’ closures, crowd control measures and sensitization campaigns on hygiene and respiratory etiquettes, including sneezing and coughing away from people.

BUT, BUT…

Despite the few cases, the World Health Organization(WHO) on Friday sent a dire warning to Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, to stop the spread of COVID-19 now that cases are still few or it may be too late, too hard, or almost impossible to deal with a much bigger and wider crisis.

Speaking from the WHO headquarters in Geneva, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Nigeria should seize the opportunity now that it has few cases to stop the virus from spreading by conducting enough testing, identifying those who test positive, isolating them and following up with contacts’ tracing.

He said those early measures would prevent the disease from growing from sporadic cases to a community transmission that may become harder to contain.

“The problem comes when community transmission starts, when the number of cases builds,” Dr. Ghebreyesus said, adding that when that happens, it becomes difficult or almost impossible to “quarantine” many people.

“The growing number of cases means the healthcare system could be overwhelmed,” he said, adding that Nigeria needs to cut the spread of COVID-19 now before it’s too late.

He said Nigeria should invest more in public health interventions and follow WHO guidelines about COVID-19 to prevent the spread of the deadly bug.

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa calls on G20, World Bank, IMF, AfDB to help Africa amid coronavirus economic turbulence

0
Cyril-Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa has called on the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the G20 countries and international financial institutions to help Africa amid the novel coronavirus economic turmoil.

“We encourage the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank and other institutions to provide debt relief to highly indebted countries,” Mr. Ramaphosa said in remarks at the G20 extraordinary leaders’ virtual summit on COVID-19 ​held on March 26 attended world leaders, including President Donald Trump.

President Ramaphosa warned that the coronavirus pandemic “will worsen the economic situations of many African economies” and reverse the gains that many countries have made in recent years.

“We need to ensure trade and investment flows are not adversely disrupted. At the continental level COVID-19 is already having a devastating impact on many countries and in this regard many African economies need a robust economic stimulus package,” he said.

“African central banks, including the South African Reserve Bank, have responded through stimulus measures, such as rate cuts, among others, to provide liquidity. But these efforts need support.”

Ramaphosa said the international community needs to demonstrate solidarity with Africa through financial support measures.

“These measures should both support the continent’s immediate humanitarian needs and place the continent on a path of economic recovery.

“Given that a third of Sub-Saharan African countries are in debt distress or at risk of debt distress the waiver of all interest payments on bilateral and multilateral loans would help. This would give fiscal space and liquidity to governments,” he said in his remarks received by TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington D.C. on Sunday.

At the continental level, Ramaphosa announced that the African Union Bureau met on March 26, 20202 and established the African Coronavirus Fund to help fund Africa’s work in fighting this virus. 

“A few African countries were able to raise $20 million in just 30 minutes. We invite G20 countries to support this African initiative by donating to this fund,” he said.

President Ramaphosa reminded G20 leaders what late African icon, former South African President Nelson Mandela said 15 years ago about helping others during crisis times.

“Fifteen years ago, when confronted by the challenge of HIV/AIDS, President Nelson Mandela asked: “When the history of our times is written, will we be remembered as the generation that turned our backs in a moment of global crisis or will it be recorded that we did the right thing.”

“I am certain that when the history of our times is written, it will reflect on today’s meeting and will record that the leaders of the G20 did the right thing,” he said.

PHOTO NEWS: Lagos isolation center to combat COVID-19

0
IMG 20200329 WA0000
IMG 20200329 WA0001
IMG 20200329 WA0002

Nigerian activists fear coronavirus money could be stolen by Buhari officials, ask for accountability

0
President Buhari at the 29th Forum of Heads of State and Government of Participating States of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) at the AU Summit in Addis Ababa on 8th Feb 2020
President Buhari at the 29th Forum of Heads of State and Government of Participating States of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) at the AU Summit in Addis Ababa on 8th Feb 2020

Nigerian activists fear the billions of naira being allocated or pledged to combat COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, could be stolen by officials appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari, and are requesting full accountability.

RIGHT NOW:

Nigeria now has 97 confirmed cases of coronavirus. One person has died and three have recovered.

There are now 59 confirmed cases in Lagos, 14 in the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja, 3 in Ogun, 1 in Ekiti, 7 in Oyo, 2 in Edo, 2 in Bauchi, 2 in Osun, 2 in Rivers and 2 in Enugu, 1 in Benue and 1 in Kaduna, the Nigerian center of disease control (NCDC) said in a tweet on Saturday.

Nigeria has taken some measures, with school closures, crowd control measures and sensitization campaigns on hygiene and respiratory etiquettes, including sneezing and coughing away from people.

Many people have also pledged billions of naira to the fight against COVID-19 while the government has said it will not spare any resources to combat the deadly bug.

Despite their public good intention, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) said in a statement to TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington D.C. on Sunday that it has asked the Federal Government to “publish weekly details of exact funds and other resources allocated by the authorities and received from the private sector, as well as details of use and planned use of any such funds and resources to combat the spread of coronavirus (or COVID-19) in Nigeria.”

SERAP is also asking the Federal Government to: “disclose information on the exact number of tests that have been carried out for high-ranking public officials and politicians, the number of any such high-ranking public officials and politicians now in self-isolation or quarantine, as well as the exact number of tests that have been carried out for the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”

In two Freedom of Information requests sent to Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health and Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), SERAP said: “We are concerned about the lack of transparency in the use of the funds and resources being mobilised to combat coronavirus, amid problems accessing the NCDC’s website, and reports that authorities are prioritising home testing of politicians, with some reportedly taking multiple tests.”

According to SERAP: “politicians engaging in multiple tests for coronavirus have in turn slowed the number of tests for the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”

In the FoI requests dated 27 March, 2020 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “We are concerned that lack of transparency in the use of the funds and resources to combat COVID-19 would lead to diversion or mismanagement of resources, unnecessarily cost lives, and result in serious damage to public health in the country.”

SERAP said: “We urge you to disclose the level of enforcement for home quarantine system for high-ranking public officials, politicians and the wealthy, and whether the Ministry of Health and NCDC are carrying out spot checks to ensure strict compliance by these people.”

The FoI requests read, in part: “Transparency and openness in the use of funds and operations of the Ministry of Health and NCDC would help to reduce the risk of corruption or opportunism, build trust and engage Nigerians in the fight against coronavirus as well as safe lives. Transparency and accountability are important to implementing an effective response to COVID-19 and slowing the spread of the virus in the country.”

“Given the importance of good hygiene like handwashing to any response to COVID-19, SERAP would like you to disclose details of measures being put in place by the Ministry of Health, the NCDC and any collaborative work with the Ministry of Water Resources to provide vulnerable Nigerians with safe water, sanitation, and hygienic conditions.”

“We are concerned that millions of Nigerians lack access to an improved water source and to proper sanitation, thereby making them vulnerable to COVID-19 and other illnesses.”

“Handwashing and social distancing will be very difficult to implement for the poorest and most vulnerable people in a country where water shortages are routine and millions continue to drink contaminated water.”

“Limited availability of water in several public hospitals across the country will also make it difficult for medical workers and health professionals to wash their hands and will therefore make it difficult for them to properly respond to COVID-19 and safe lives.”

“We would be grateful if the requested information is provided to us within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions under the Freedom of Information Act to compel you to comply with our request.”

“Any failure or refusal to provide the information requested will also be clearly inconsistent with the letter and spirit of the Freedom of Information Act.”

“According to our information, the Nigerian government has approved a N10 billion (Naira) grant (about $27 million) to fight the spread of coronavirus in the country. The government has also reportedly released N5 billion (Naira) (about $13 million) special intervention fund to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC).”

“Also, banks, wealthy members of the private sector and foundations have also donated billions of Naira to help fund medical centers and provide essential materials necessary to curtail the spread of coronavirus in the country.”

“By Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act 2011, SERAP is entitled as of right to request for or gain access to information, including information on the exact amount of funds and resources meant to combat the spread of coronavirus in Nigeria.”

“By Sections 2(3)(d)(V) & (4) of the FoI Act, there is a binding legal duty to ensure that documents containing information relating to the spending and operations to combat the spread of coronavirus in Nigeria are widely disseminated and made readily available to members of the public through various means.”

“The information sought, apart from not being exempted from disclosure under the FoI Act, bothers on an issue of national interest, public concern, public health, interest of human rights, social justice, good governance, transparency and accountability.”

The World Health Organization(WHO) on Friday sent a dire warning to Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, to stop the spread of COVID-19 now that cases are still few or it may be too late, too hard, or almost impossible to deal with a much bigger and wider crisis.

Speaking from the WHO headquarters in Geneva, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Nigeria should seize the opportunity now that it has few cases to stop the virus from spreading by conducting enough testing, identifying those who test positive, isolating them and following up with contacts’ tracing.

He said those early measures would prevent the disease from growing from sporadic cases to a community transmission that may become harder to contain.

“The problem comes when community transmission starts, when the number of cases builds,” Dr. Ghebreyesus said, adding that when that happens, it becomes difficult or almost impossible to “quarantine” many people.

BREAKING: More than 500 people dead from coronavirus in U.S. in past 24 hours, as Trump sends U.S. Navy hospital ship to New York where about 900 have died

0
President Donald Trump signs travel ban
President Donald Trump

More than 500 people died from coronavirus in the United States in the past 24 hours, more than any other day since the deadly bug was first reported in Washington state, according to a virus tracker that compiles data from all states.

Overall, at least 2200 people have died in the United States from coronavirus, according to the latest tally.

The data also shows there were at least 525 new deaths in the United States on Saturday with at least 19,452 new cases. Overall, the United States now has close to 125,000 cases of coronavirus with more than 2600 recoveries, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Many of the new cases came from New York where there are now close to 900 dead overall.

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York said New York is trying to procure ventilators in preparation for possible apex (when curve hits the highest point). Apex in New York is estimated in 14-21 days from now.

“We’ll keep COVID-19 patients separated from the other patients in hospitals. We can now test for antibodies to determine whether a person had COVID-19. This is a blood test,” he said at his daily news conference alone.

Many experts predict that things will continue to get worse for another two to three weeks before they get better. That means the number will continue to grow exponentially with a daily death toll probably reaching one thousand and then beginning to come down rapidly as well.

This will happen if the current measures put in place, including physical distancing, hygiene and respiratory etiquettes continue to be enforced all over the country.

While New York remains the epicenter of the crisis in the United States with more deaths and new cases, more than 180 people have also died in Washington state, 140 in New Jersey, 111 in California, 137 in Louisiana and elsewhere, according to the new tally.

On Saturday,President Trump sent U.S. Navy hospital ship to New York City with supplies and medical personnel to aid in the coronavirus pandemic response.

“This great ship behind me is a 70,000-ton message of hope and solidarity to the incredible people of New York, a place I know very well, a place I love,” Trump said at the Norfolk Naval Station.before sending off the USNS Comfort. “We’re here for you. We’re fighting for you and we’re with you all the way and we always will be.”

BREAKING: About 2000 dead from coronavirus in U.S. from 120,000 infections

1
New York City

About 2000 people have died from coronavirus in U.S. and roughly 120,000 infections have been recorded so far with the number climbing by the hour, according to latest data update from Johns Hopkins University and others.

In the past four days alone, about a thousand people have died from COVID-19 in the United States. On Friday, over 400 people died, and on Saturday, about 400 people have died already, according to the latest tally.

More than 700 people have died in New York state alone, 175 in Washington, 140 in New Jersey, 137 in Louisiana, 111 in Michigan, 104 in California, as well as in many other states, according to the latest tally. Between a thousand and three thousand people have recovered so far.

FEARS:

There are fears in the United States that hospitals could be overwhelmed very soon and the number of casualties from the coronavirus could increase drastically. Some models predict that if drastic actions are not taken quickly with lockdowns and shutdowns, hundreds of thousands or millions of people in the United States could die.

GLOBALLY:

Globally, more than 30,000 people have died from coronavirus from over 650,000 infections. About 140,000 people have recovered.

Italy has the highest number of deaths with an overall death toll of over 10,000, followed by Spain with close to 6,000 dead and China with over 3,200.

THE GOOD NEWS:

The good news is although so little is known about this virus so far, most people who have contracted it are still alive. There are no proven drug yet or vaccine to stop it and doctors say only supportive measures could slow the spread of the virus and eventually defeat it.

Some of those measures include physical distancing, hygiene, and respiratory etiquettes.

Record 832 people dead in Spain overnight from coronavirus. More than 10,000 have died in Italy so far and about 2000 in U.S.

0
flags usa italy spain uk

At least 832 people died from coronavirus overnight in Spain, the health ministry said on Saturday. Overall, coronavirus death toll in Spain stood at 5,690 on Saturday.

The number of infections in Spain jumped to 72,248 on Saturday from 64,059 the day before, according to the latest data.

Reports quoted Health emergency chief Fernando Simon as saying that the epidemic appeared to be reaching its peak in some areas, but the nation was short of intensive care unit beds.

“We continue to have a major problem with ICU saturation,” said Simon.

In Italy, more than 10,000 people have died since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the Civil Protection Agency said.

In the United States, around 2000 people have died from coronavirus overall. Roughly 400 people died on Friday and 300 had died on Saturday already, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins.

More than 116,000 people have been infected with coronavirus in the United States, especially in New York state where at least 627 have died from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

These numbers were changing rapidly around the world.

BREAKING: Governor el-Rufai of Kaduna tests positive for coronavirus

0
el rufai to replace buhari simon ateba news africa
Governor Nasir El-Rufai

The governor of Kaduna state in northern Nigeria Nasir el-Rufai has tested positive for coronavirus.

“Malam Nasir @elrufai has disclosed that he has tested positive for Covid-19. He is in self-isolation as required by the case management guidelines of the NCDC for a someone that is not showing symptoms,” the governor tweeted.

“Earlier this week, I submitted a sample for COVID-19 test, the results came in this evening, and I regret to say that it is positive,” the governor said in a video he posted on Twitter.

“According to the protocol for managing COVID-19, I’m in self-isolation,” he said.

“I wish to appeal to the people of Kaduna state to continue to closely observe the preventive measures already announced by our government,” he added.

“It is most important that everyone should do their utmost to safe, stay home and stay alive.

“The deputy governor is in charge of our task force on COVID-19 and I will continue to issue statements from time to time. Thank you very much,” he concluded.

The governor of Bauchi, Bala Mohammed, President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff Abba Kyari, and the son of former Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar had already tested positive for the coronavirus and are all in self isolation.

Battle against COVID-19 in India must not leave behind the poor and marginalized, Amnesty warns

0
President Buhari with Indian Vice President Hon. Mohammad Hamid Ansari flanked by Indian Minister of State for Finance Mr Gangaram Meghwal and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Statehouse.

The three-week nation-wide lockdown to battle the COVID-19 pandemic in India have left millions of migrant workers stranded and the poor struggling to access essential services across the country. The policies and schemes that are being planned and implemented to battle the pandemic by the Government of India must alleviate and not aggravate the hardships of the poor and marginalized communities in India, said Amnesty International India.

On March 24, 2020, in a televised address Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day nation-wide lock down, imposed under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. “India is at a critical stage and even a single misstep could lead to the deadly virus spreading like wildfire and put the entire nation in jeopardy. If we continue to be negligent, India will have to pay a heavy price,” the Prime Minister told the nation.

“It is important that India takes all the necessary steps to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is equally important that the interests of the most vulnerable communities be kept at the heart of every policy in battling the pandemic. The nation-wide lockdown has disproportionately affected migrant and daily-wage workers and those employed in the informal sector. In designing responses to COVID-19, the Government of India must ensure that the needs and experiences of these communities are not an afterthought”, said Avinash Kumar, Executive Director of Amnesty International India.

According to the 2018-2019 Economic Survey of India, 93% of India’s workforce is employed in the informal sector which is largely characteristic of inadequate or limited social security benefits. As most of India’s economy comes to a gradual shutdown, millions of such workers have already lost their jobs. With temporary or insecure housing and inadequate food, shelter and sanitation facilities, many have no option but to go back to their homes. Since the lockdown includes suspension of bus and railway services, many are compelled to walk to their homes, which in some cases are more than 1000 kilometres away. Restaurants and hotels remain shut leaving them with fewer options to access clean food and drinking water as they walk back home. And to make it worse, the state police machinery is using repression, including ill-treatment, arbitrary detentions and unnecessary or excessive use of force on these workers for violating the lockdown.

“The nation-wide lockdown has left millions stranded, struggling to search for food and water. Unfortunately for these people, a state machinery has become a larger threat than the COVID-19 pandemic. This is unfortunate and the Government of India must ensure that insensitivity and brute force be replaced by people friendly measures in battling the pandemic. Torture and other ill-treatment is absolutely prohibited in all circumstances, and can never be justified, including during public health crises”, said Avinash Kumar.

“Amnesty International India calls on the Government of India and various state governments to take measures to widen access to social security which will reduce the hardships faced by those who have lost their jobs because of the nation-wide lockdown. It also urges the Government to respect and protect the rights of those under quarantine and ensure that people’s basic needs are met, including adequate shelter, food, water and sanitation,” said Avinash Kumar.

COVID-19 infections in Africa skyrocket to nearly 4000 in 46 countries. 117 dead and 286 recoveries

0
Lagos Nigeria

COVID-19 infections in Africa have skyrocketed to nearly 4000 in 46 African countries, according to figures by CDC Africa released by the African Union in Addis Ababa.

At least 117 people had died and 286 have recovered by 5 p.m. East African Time on Saturday March 28.

While Central Africa had 200 cases, 9 deaths and 6 recoveries, Eastern Africa had 301 cases, 4 deaths and 6 recoveries. Northern Africa had 1,534 cases, 85 deaths and 205 recoveries and Southern Africa had 1,230 cases, 2 deaths and 31 recoveries. Western Africa had 712 cases, 17 deaths and 38 recoveries as of 5 p.m. East African Time on March 28, 2020.

Details per country are as follow

Central (200 cases, 9 deaths, 6 recoveries):  Cameroon (92, 2, 2), Central African Republic (6, 0, 3), Chad (5, 0, 0), Congo (19, 0, 0), DRC (58, 6, 1), Equatorial Guinea (13, 0, 0), Gabon (7, 1, 0)

Eastern (301, 4, 6): Djibouti (14, 0, 0), Eritrea (6, 0, 0), Ethiopia (16, 0, 4), Kenya (38, 1, 1), Madagascar (28, 0, 0), Mauritius (94, 2, 0), Rwanda (54, 0, 0), Seychelles (7, 0, 0), Somalia (3, 0, 0), Sudan (5, 1, 0), Tanzania (13, 0, 1), Uganda (23, 0, 0)

Northern (1,534, 85, 205): Algeria (409, 26, 77), Egypt (536, 30, 116), Libya (1, 0, 0), Mauritania (3, 0, 0), Morocco (358, 23, 11), Tunisia (227, 6, 1)

Southern (1,230, 2, 31): Angola (3, 0, 0 ), Eswatini (8, 0, 0), Mozambique (8, 0, 0),  Namibia (6, 0, 0), South Africa (1,170, 1, 31), Zambia (28, 0, 0), Zimbabwe (7, 1, 0)

Western (712, 17, 38): Benin (6, 0, 0), Burkina Faso (180, 9, 12), Cape Verde (5, 1, 0), Côte d’Ivoire (101, 0, 3), Gambia (3, 1, 0), Ghana (137, 3, 1), Guinea (8, 0, 0), Guinea-Bissau (2, 0, 0), Liberia (3, 0, 0), Mali (18, 0, 0), Niger (10, 1, 0), Nigeria (81, 1, 3), Senegal (130, 0, 18), Togo (28, 1, 1)

SEE IT: Nigerian authorities shut Christ Embassy Church in Abuja during massive wedding defying anti-coronavirus etiquettes

0

The video shows the closure of Christ Embassy church at Jabi-utako in Abuja on Saturday where the FCTA Enforcement team met ongoing church programs and wedding activity.

COVID-19 death toll hits 30 in Egypt as cases skyrocket above 500, highest in Africa

0
President Abdelfattah al-Sisi of Egypt. Photo: Newsweek
President Abdelfattah al-Sisi of Egypt. Photo: Newsweek

A team of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded a COVID-19 technical support mission to Egypt on 25 March 2020 as confirmed cases continued to climb, skyrocketing above 500 and leaving at least 30 people dead.

RIGHT NOW:

Egypt on Saturday had at least 536 confirmed cases of coronavirus. At least 30 people had died and a minimum of 116 people had recovered, according to data from Egyptian authorities and Johns Hopkins University.

Egypt now has more coronavirus cases in Africa, followed by Algeria, which has 409 cases with 26 deaths. At least 29 people have recovered.

WHO mission to Egypt was to understand the current situation; review ongoing response activities; provide on-site technical support as needed; and identify strengths and gaps to guide response priorities.

“After several days of intensive meetings and field visits both inside and outside Cairo, we see that Egypt is making substantial efforts to control COVID-19 outbreak. Significant work is being done, especially in the areas of early detection, laboratory testing, isolation, contact tracing and referral of patients,” says Dr Yvan Hutin, Director for Communicable Diseases in WHO’s Regional Office and mission team lead.

“But more needs to be done. There is now a critical window of opportunity to effectively control the outbreak before the current local transmission progresses to community transmission. We have agreed on several areas that can be scaled up, taking a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach.”

Considerable efforts have been made by the government in allocating additional dedicated human and financial resources needed to contain the outbreak. Progress has been made in expanding the number of peripheral laboratories that are now able to test for COVID-19, and consideration will be made in engaging overall laboratory capacities. Across the country, 17 laboratories now have the capacity to test cases. An additional four will be added soon and university laboratories will also be engaged. With support from WHO and other partners, Egypt now has the capacity to conduct up to 200,000 tests.

Egypt’s strong disease surveillance system and contact tracing efforts have proven effective in controlling managing sporadic and clusters of cases before they can spread. Recent border closures now provide an opportunity to enhance screening and rapid testing capacity using a risk assessment approach.

Maintaining effective contact tracing with proper quarantine mechanisms, as well as continuing systematic testing of patients seeking treatment for all acute respiratory infections will ensure that no critical COVID-19 cases are missed.

Building on the current well-structured Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) programme, WHO will work with national health authorities to enhance the isolation, quarantine and referral mechanisms, and scale up IPC practices to prevent transmission at all levels to ensure that patients and health workers are protected.

Significant efforts have been made to ensure the public is updated on the current situation, including working with other sectors to reach vulnerable populations. Greater coordination and partnerships with civil society, NGOs, and the media will ensure that the public is able to make informed decisions, without succumbing to mistrust and the stigma associated with the disease.

“Health officials and health workers are clearly working very hard and are committed to controlling this outbreak and saving lives. The fight against coronavirus in Egypt is ongoing, and we need everybody in the country to be engaged in this response. The right and timely public health measures implemented with the right scale can make a difference,” adds Dr Hutin.

error: Support good journalism. Donate