The World Health Organization (WHO), has said that there is no zero risk strategy for countries that are easing international travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic. They, however, asked that essential travel for emergencies should remain a top priority.
While giving its long-awaited travel update, the United Nations global health agency pointed out that cross-border trips for emergencies, humanitarian work, the transfer of essential personnel and repatriation would constitute essential travel.
The WHO, in its updated guidance which was posted on its website on Thursday, said, ‘’There is no ‘zero risk’ when considering the potential importation or exportation of cases in the context of international travel.’’
A rising new wave of infections across the globe has led some countries to reintroduce some travel restrictions, including testing and quarantining incoming international passengers. The WHO had revealed in June that it would update its travel guidelines before the northern hemisphere summer holidays.
This guidance, though not enforceable, can be used by governments and industries to help shape policies.
The WHO had a few days ago advised that series of bans on international travel cannot be sustained indefinitely and countries would have to do more to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus disease within their borders.
The WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said during a virtual news briefing, that only strict adherence to health measures, like wearing of face masks to avoiding crowds, would help the world beat the coronavirus pandemic.
He commended Canada, China, Germany and South Korea for controlling the outbreaks and reducing the cases by adhering to these measures.
The updated travel advice contains minor changes from previous guidance, which also included infection control advice applicable to other settings such as social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands and avoiding touching the face.
The WHO urged each country to conduct its own risk-benefit analysis before lifting any or all travel restrictions by taking into account local epidemiology and transmission patterns, as well as national health and social distancing measures already in place.
WHO said, ‘’Countries should continuously plan for and assess their surge capacities for testing, tracking, isolating and managing imported cases and quarantine of contacts.”
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
COVID-19 Update in Nigeria
On the 17th of September 2020, 131 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 56,735 confirmed cases.
On the 17th of September 2020, 131 new confirmed cases and 2 deaths were recorded in Nigeria, having carried out a total daily test of 2,609 samples across the country.
To date, 56,735 cases have been confirmed, 48,092 cases have been discharged and 1,093 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. A total of 482,321 tests have been carried out as of September 17th, 2020 compared to 479,712 tests a day earlier.
COVID-19 Case Updates- 17th September 2020,
- Total Number of Cases – 56,735
- Total Number Discharged – 48,092
- Total Deaths – 1,093
- Total Tests Carried out – 482,321
According to the NCDC, the 131 new cases were reported from 18 states- Lagos (45), Kaduna (17), Plateau (17), FCT (16), Delta (6), Niger (6), Kwara (5), Oyo (3), Akwa Ibom (2), Cross River (2), Ekiti (2), Enugu (2), Osun (2), Sokoto (2), Bauchi (1), Ebonyi (1), Katsina (1), Rivers (1).
Meanwhile, the latest numbers bring Lagos state total confirmed cases to 18,768, followed by Abuja (5,504), Oyo (3,226), Plateau (3,175), Edo (2,610), Kaduna (2,322), Rivers (2,209), Delta (1,799), Ogun (1,755), Kano (1,733), Ondo (1,590), Enugu (1,234), Ebonyi (1,035), Kwara (1,009), Katsina (845), Abia (835), Osun (807), Gombe (779), Borno (741), and Bauchi (682).
Imo State has recorded 551 cases, Benue (467), Nasarawa (447), Bayelsa (393), Jigawa (322), Ekiti (307), Akwa Ibom (288), Niger (250), Anambra (232), Adamawa (230), Sokoto (161), Taraba (95), Kebbi (93), Cross River (85), Zamfara (78), Yobe (73), 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.
Moderna to seek emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine
Moderna said the FDA will determine the health-risk of vaccine.
Moderna Inc has concluded plans to seek for emergency authorization for the use of its Covid-19 vaccine on high-risk groups if it proves to be at least 70% effective.
This disclosure was made by the Chief Executive Officer of Moderna, Stephane Bancel, during a telephone interview with Reuters.
Bancel said, “If the interim readout is deemed by the independent safety committee as positive with 70 or 80 or 90% efficacy, we will indeed consider approval. At such a level of efficacy, if we get there, we can protect a lot of lives in the people at the highest risk, and so, we will consider filing for an EUA for a very limited population.”
He disclosed that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will determine whether the benefit of the vaccine to a small group of high-risk individuals is greater than the risk of not having a full readout of safety data from all 30,000 study participants.
Bancel noted that the 2 groups of high-risk individuals who might be covered in such Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) would be the healthcare workers and the elderly.
According to him, the company wants to gather more data on the safety of the vaccine in the study population over a period of several months before seeking full FDA’s approval.
Moderna’s vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, which is at the conclusion stage with its move to enrol 30,000 volunteers in a final stage trial of a novel coronavirus vaccine may be able to announce its success early if it is able to show that people who got doses of the vaccine fared much better in its trial than people who didn’t.
Vaccines must show they are at least 50% more effective than a placebo to be considered for approval. Government officials said that in order to show its effectiveness, at least 150 people with Covid-19 infections must be recorded as trial participants with at least twice as many occurring among the placebo group.