Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, asking him to instruct the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to jointly track and monitor spending by federal agencies and state governors to combat Coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.
According to SERAP, this move would reduce the incidence of corruption and mismanagement in the Coronavirus outbreak.
The letter was signed by SERAP Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare and made available to Channels TV.
It read in part, “Coronavirus crisis requires quick responses but it also requires corruption safeguards to ensure public funds are well spent, and promote access to basic public health and other services to those most in need.
“By prioritising transparency and accountability in the spending of funds to combat coronavirus, your government will be taking preventive measures to ensure that the efforts to reduce the spread of the pandemic and promote the health and safety of Nigerians are not compromised by corruption.”
SERAP also drew attention to the Nigerian health systems, which they described as ‘challenged’ and urged the government to quickly improve the sector so that the country could have a better-equipped response to such outbreaks.
The group observed the need to increase spending on efforts to combat the spread of the virus by setting up a COVID-19 Trust Fund to which wealthy individuals and corporate bodies could contribute, even while ensuring that all avenues of corruption are eliminated from the system.
“The EFCC and ICPC should ensure that anyone found to have mismanaged or stolen public funds meant for addressing the coronavirus pandemic are effectively prosecuted and punished,” it emphasized.
The group alluded to the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone and Liberia where patients reportedly paid bribes to access health services and urged the government to ensure that all Nigerians enjoy their right to health services, especially at these perilous times of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Why the need to monitor? Amidst mixed reactions, the National Assembly had on March 5, 2020, approved the release of N620 million to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), an amount budgeted for the emergency response to novel coronavirus.
A couple of weeks earlier, the Federal Government released N386 million in two batches, to two health agencies to strengthen Coronavirus (COVID19) preparedness in Nigeria and prevent an outbreak of the virus in the country.
Barely 7 days after the release of the first tranche, the first case of Coronavirus in Nigeria was confirmed in Lagos state.
Since then, several others have been detected and the total cases in Nigeria currently stand at 30.
COVID-19 Update in Nigeria
On the 21st of September 2020, 195 new confirmed cases and 2 deaths were recorded in Nigeria.
The spread of novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria continues to record increases as the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reveal Nigeria now has 57,437 confirmed cases.
On the 21st of September 2020, 195 new confirmed cases and 2 deaths were recorded in Nigeria, having carried out a total daily test of 1,162 samples across the country.
To date, 57,437 cases have been confirmed, 48,674 cases have been discharged and 1,100 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. A total of 480,874 tests have been carried out as of September 21st, 2020 compared to 479,712 tests a day earlier.
COVID-19 Case Updates- 21st September 2020,
- Total Number of Cases – 57,437
- Total Number Discharged – 48,674
- Total Deaths – 1,100
- Total Tests Carried out – 480,874
According to the NCDC, the 195 new cases were reported from 11 states- Enugu (51), Gombe (40), Lagos (39), Plateau (23), FCT (15), Rivers (12), Kaduna (8), Ondo (3), Bauchi (2), Edo (1), Ogun (1).
Meanwhile, the latest numbers bring Lagos state total confirmed cases to 18,982, followed by Abuja (5,566), Oyo (3,254), Plateau (3,231), Edo (2,612), Kaduna (2,356), Rivers (2,255), Delta (1,799), Ogun (1,767), Kano (1,734), Ondo (1,600), Enugu (1,285), Ebonyi (1,038), Kwara (1,025), Abia (881), Katsina (848), Gombe (839), Osun (817), Borno (741), and Bauchi (691).
Imo State has recorded 562 cases, Benue (473), Nasarawa (448), Bayelsa (394), Jigawa (322), Ekiti (317), Akwa Ibom (288), Niger (254), Adamawa (234), Anambra (232), Sokoto (161), Taraba (95), Kebbi (93), Cross River (85), Zamfara (78), Yobe (75), while Kogi state has recorded 5 cases only.
Lock Down and Curfew
In a move to combat the spread of the pandemic disease, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days, which took effect from 11 pm on Monday, 30th March 2020.
The movement restriction, which was extended by another two-weeks period, has been partially put on hold with some businesses commencing operations from May 4. On April 27th, 2020, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari declared an overnight curfew from 8 pm to 6 am across the country, as part of new measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19. This comes along with the phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos, and Ogun States, which took effect from Saturday, 2nd May 2020, at 9 am.
On Monday, 29th June 2020 the federal government extended the second phase of the eased lockdown by 4 weeks and approved interstate movement outside curfew hours with effect from July 1, 2020. Also, on Monday 27th July 2020, the federal government extended the second phase of eased lockdown by an additional one week.
On Thursday, 6th August 2020 the federal government through the secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 announced the extension of the second phase of eased lockdown by another four (4) weeks.
WHO approves protocol for phase 3 clinical trials for COVID-19 herbal medicine
A COVID-19 herbal medicine has gained approval by WHO for phase 3 clinical trial.
The World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and the African Union Commission for Social Affairs, has approved a protocol for phase 3 clinical trials of herbal medicine for Covid-19.
The Regional Expert Committee on Traditional Medicine for Covid-19, which was formed by the 3 institutions, while giving the approval also endorsed a charter and terms of reference for the establishment of a data and safety monitoring board for herbal medicine clinical trials.
The Director Universal Health Coverage and Life Course Cluster at WHO Regional Office for Africa, Dr Tumusiime, said, “Just like other areas of medicine, sound science is the sole basis for safe and effective traditional medicine therapies. The onset of COVID-19, like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, has highlighted the need for strengthened health systems and accelerated research and development programmes, including on traditional medicines.’’
The technical documents that were approved are aimed at empowering and developing a critical mass of technical capacity of scientists in Africa to conduct proper clinical trials to ensure quality, safety and efficacy of traditional medicines in line with international standards.
This appears to add to the global effort to develop vaccines for the coronavirus disease, which are at different trial stages. The WHO had disclosed that there are well over 100 Covid-19 vaccines currently under development across the globe with about 8 of them at the phase 3 trial stage.
The phase 3 clinical trials are quite crucial in fully assessing the safety and efficacy of a new medical product. The data safety and monitoring board will ensure that the accumulated studies data are reviewed periodically against participants’ safety.
The late-stage trial will also make recommendations on the continuation, modification or termination of a trial, based on evaluation of data at predetermined periods during the study.
Dr Tumusiime explained that if a traditional medicine product is found to be safe, efficacious and quality assured, the WHO will recommend for a fast-tracked, large-scale local manufacturing. The WHO also noted that through the African Vaccine Regulatory Forum, there is now a benchmark upon which clinical trials of medicines and vaccines in the region can be assessed and approved in less than 60 days.
The Expert Committee Chairman, Professor Motlalepula Gilbert Matsabisa said, “The adoption of the technical documents will ensure that universally acceptable clinical evidence of the efficacy of herbal medicines for the treatment of COVID-19 is generated without compromising the safety of participants.”
The 25-member Regional Expert Advisory Committee on Traditional Medicine for Covid-19 was mandated to support countries to improve on research and development of traditional medicine based therapies against the virus.
It is to also provide guidance on the implementation of the approved protocols to generate scientific evidence on the quality, safety and efficacy of herbal medicines for Covid-19.
FG says international passengers must be tested by private labs 7 days after returning
The directive is aimed at early detection of the virus and reducing the risk of its further transmission.
The Federal Government has announced that all returning international passengers must be tested by a certified private laboratory after 7 days, on returning to the country.
This disclosure was made by the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, during the briefing of the task force on Thursday, September 17, 2020.
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He said that it was to enable early detection of the coronavirus disease and reduce the risk of its further transmission.
Dr. Aliyu stated, “To enable early detection and reduce the risk of further transmission based on data and our current laboratory capacity, all incoming travelers must be tested by a certified private laboratory after 7 days of returning to the country.
And there are only three criteria for these private laboratories to get on to the portal. Firstly, they have to be licensed through the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria. Secondly, they must have undergone a process of validation and optimization by NCDC, and then thirdly, they must be accredited by the state government because their results will feed into the state numbers.’’
He said that the Federal Government had already reached out to states, urging them to work with the private laboratories within their areas and come up with the list of accredited laboratories that were able to meet those requirements.
Although Dr. Sani Aliyu revealed that at the moment, they only had portals for Lagos and Abuja, he said there were arrangements with the laboratories serving these areas to be responsible for collecting samples for passengers outside Lagos and Abuja.
He also noted that they were working very hard to open up more private laboratories across the rest of the country. He said that the government believed that as more laboratories get registered and came on to the portal, it would be easier to continue to push down the cost of PCR test.
All incoming travellers must be tested by a certified private laboratory after seven days of returning to the country. – Sani Aliyu, PTF National Coordinator.#PTFBriefing #COVID19Update#COVID19 pic.twitter.com/bImya7abxo
— Channels Television (@channelstv) September 17, 2020