The Lagos State Government has alerted the public to a new virus, the novel Coronavirus (nCoV) which is currently raging in China and have been reported some countries of the world including United States of America and have caused no fewer than nine deaths.
The State Government through a press statement issued by the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi said Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Abayomi explained that the novel Coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans adding that Coronaviruses are primarily infections of animals that can be transmitted to humans.
“On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO), China Country Office was informed of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause, detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. A novel Coronavirus was identified as the causative virus by Chinese authorities on the 7th January”
“As of 22nd January 2020, a total of 471 cases have been confirmed in South East Asia and USA with 9 deaths. There is evidence now that the infection is able to spread from person to person”, the Commissioner said.
He disclosed that the common signs and symptoms of the infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing adding that in more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
While noting that no cases of the virus have been identified in Lagos, Nigeria or anywhere in Africa, the Commissioner stated that the State Lagos is ramping up its level of preparedness considering the large commercial trading traffic between Nigeria and China and Thailand.
“The Lagos State Biosecurity team in collaboration with Lagos University Teaching Hospital is currently working on building urgent capacity to identify the virus in our Biosecurity facility and isolation wards located at the Mainland Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba in the event of any suspected case arriving in Lagos State”
“We are in touch with Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) in Abuja to align our strategies. Importantly we are also collaborating with the Federal Ports Authority at air, land and sea border posts to elevate screening and surveillance of incoming travelers”, he said
Abayomi urged citizens to adopt and practice high standard of personal and environmental hygiene including regular hand washing, covering of mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing and practice good biosecurity precautions with domestic and wild animals as measures against the transmission of any kind contagious infection, nCoV inclusive.
The Commissioner advised citizens travelling from South East Asia or any country where the infection have been reported or who have had contact with travelers from that region and experiencing above outlined symptoms associated with the disease to go to the nearest health facility for immediate assessment and treatment or call 08023169485, 08033565529 or 08052817243 for assistance.
“The Lagos State Government is committed to the health and safety of her citizen and so, there is no cause for panic or alarm. This alert is just to assure you that we are preparing for any eventuality as directed by Mr. Governor”, Abayomi said.
“This is why you may have contacted Omicron without knowing” -WHO
The Omicron COVID-19 variant is more transmissible than the Delta strain and reduces vaccine efficacy but causes less severe symptoms according to early data, the World Health Organisation said Sunday.
The Delta variant, first identified in India earlier this year, is responsible for most of the world’s coronavirus infections.
But South Africa’s discovery of Omicron – which has a large number of mutations — last month prompted countries around the world to impose travel bans on southern African countries and reintroduce domestic restrictions to slow its spread.
The WHO said Omicron had spread to 63 countries as of December 9.
The faster transmission was noted in South Africa, where Delta is less prevalent, and in Britain, where Delta is the dominant strain.
But it stressed that a lack of data meant it could not say if Omicron’s rate of transmission was because it was less prone to immune responses, higher transmissibility, or a combination of both.
Early evidence suggests Omicron causes “a reduction in vaccine efficacy against infection and transmission”, the WHO said in a technical brief.
“Given the current available data, it is likely that Omicron will outpace the Delta variant where community transmission occurs,” it added.
Omicron infections have so far caused “mild” illness or asymptomatic cases, but the WHO said the data was insufficient to establish the variant’s clinical severity.
South Africa reported Omicron to the WHO on November 24. Vaccine manufacturers Pfizer/BioNTech last week said three doses of their jabs were still effective against Omicron.
Countries with sufficient vaccine supplies such as Britain and France have encouraged their populations to receive a third “booster” jab to fight Omicron.
WHO joins forces with FIFA, Quatar to launch #ACTogether campaign on CVID-19
Using the platform of the first FIFA Arab Cup™, the World Health Organization (WHO), FIFA and the Qatari authorities are launching the #ACTogether campaign to call for teamwork and unity to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests.
A large proportion of the global population remains susceptible to infection and at an increased risk of severe disease and death. Vaccine inequity persists in many parts of the world; of the nearly 7.5 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered globally by mid-November 2021, only 0.6% had been administered in low‑income countries. The WHO is emphasizing the need to scale up access to vaccines, treatments and diagnostics, through support to the global Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator equity initiative, as well as the importance of strict adherence to public health measures.
FIFA will utilize football’s substantial platform during the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021™ with a series of videos for broadcast, both in-stadium and around Doha. Team captains will also show their support for the message, while each participating member association will have assets to share with its fans via its social and digital platforms. The #ACTogether awareness initiative was first rolled out during the last edition of the FIFA Club World Cup™ in Qatar in February 2021 and its latest iteration stresses that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: “Nobody is safe until everyone is safe and we all have our roles to play in sharing that message. Health comes first, and through football, we can reinforce the message that high infection and death rates will persist worldwide as long as there is inequitable access to tools to fight the pandemic. Teamwork is key to that and that’s why we are standing together with the WHO, the Qatar Ministry of Public Health and the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy and call for everyone to #ACTogether and lay the foundations for a healthy FIFA World Cup in 2022.”
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General said: “The emergence of the Omicron variant underlines the importance of global solidarity and working together to defeat the pandemic. I welcome the strong support from Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, FIFA, players, spectators and partners to support this vital message on the occasion of the FIFA Arab Cup. Now, more than ever, we need to facilitate equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests, and encourage everyone to follow public health measures. Fully funding the ACT Accelerator will help make the ambition of ending the acute phase of the pandemic a reality.”
Her Excellency Dr Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Qatar’s Minister of Public Health, said: “The Ministry is proud to be partnered with FIFA and WHO to promote global collaboration and ensure the safety and health of all. While the pandemic remains managed in Qatar, the threat of the pandemic is still present around the world, and unfortunately access to the tools to defeat the virus remain limited for many countries.”
Her Excellency noted that just as the players in the FIFA Arab Cup will experience a level playing field on the pitch in Qatar, the world needs to ensure a level playing field exists for getting vaccines, treatments and tests where they are needed most. She called on members of the public to continue to follow hygiene, social distancing and other preventive measures, and expressed her delight to have the chance to promote this vital message at the Arab Cup.
Mr Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, said: “The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will be the next mega-event to take place in a COVID-19 world. As organizers, the health and safety of all participants and fans is our number one priority, and our support for #ACTogether is an integral part of this commitment. Working closely with the Ministry of Public Health, the WHO and FIFA, we have no doubt that this campaign will contribute to ensuring that the tournament will be both safe and secure, and we look forward to bringing the world together, both in person and digitally, to celebrate their common humanity and passion for football.”
In using the inaugural FIFA Arab Cup 2021 to share the message, FIFA and its partners are underlining their commitment to both fair play and equity in protecting public health, reflecting core values on the pitch, all while staying true to the main public health measures.
The #ACTogether campaign is being supported by the lead partner agencies of the ACT Accelerator initiative: CEPI, FIND, Gavi, The Global Fund, UNICEF, Unitaid, Wellcome, the WHO, the World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
NGO to collaborate with NASS on National Health Emergencies
An NGO, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD), says it will collaborate with the National Assembly, to formulate a bill that will enable security agencies to effectively manage national health emergencies.
Mr Itia Otabor, Director of Strategy, Centre LSD, disclosed this during a Citizen’s Forum on ‘Strengthening Pan-African Citizens Voices for Security Sector Accountability (SPaCVOSSA)’ on Thursday in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Centre LSD with support from TrustAfrica under its Governance Programme, initiated the SPaCVOSSA project.
The project which would be conducted in four African countries namely: Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Kenya; would seek to analyse how citizens were affected by activities of security services during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Otabor, who is also the Project Coordinator, SPaCVOSSA, said that the project would look at the modalities and constraints of security forces during the implementation of the COVID-19 lockdown.
He said that the COVID-19 pandemic raised a lot of challenges that affected different aspects of lives of citizens across the globe, including Africa.
“At least 42 African governments implemented partial or full lockdown measures and movement restrictions, to contain the spread of the disease following recommendations by local health experts and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“In Nigeria, the approach was supported and reinforced by a high-level securitization by the Nigerian security forces,” he said.
Otabor said that there were lots of alleged cases of human rights violations and outcry of citizens against high-handedness of security agencies during the COVID-19 lockdown.
According to him, Centre LSD in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) was engaging citizens and security agencies on how security measures could be effectively implemented with minimal encroachment on the rights of citizens.
He said that the outcome of the engagement would enable Centre LSD push for institutionalization of the findings as a bill to serve as the country’s protocol in dealing with national health emergencies.
“We also hope that it will help to reshape the security architecture in dealing with future pandemics and other national emergencies,” he said.
He added that the project would also strengthen citizens’ voices and make security agencies to be accountable for their actions, during national health emergencies.
Also, Mr Waheed Ishola, State Director, NOA, said that the forum was not to cast aspersions on stakeholders or security agencies, but to strengthen harmonious relationships.
Ishola said that harmonious relationships between citizens and security agencies would engender trust and promote citizens’ wellbeing.
He advised security agencies to re-strategise and overhaul their communication channels to be more responsive to breed trust.
Also, the Commissioner for Police in Lagos State, CP Hakeem Odumosu, said that the forum would assist the police to effectively respond to future pandemic and other crises.
Odumosu, represented by the ACP in charge of Operations, Oladotun Odubona, said that the police faced challenges during COVID-19 palliative distribution, and escorting vaccines to various locations.
He said that the police were working assiduously to surmount the challenges and would also enforce all COVID-19 protocols to reduce the spread of the virus and safeguard the citizens.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Health,Prof. Akin Abayomi, in his comment said that the outcome of the forum would form a template for the state’s response to future pandemic.
Abayomi was represented by Mr Oluwatoyin Tiamiyu, a director in the ministry. (NAN)
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