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COVID-19: G-20 to extend debt relief to developing nations

The G-20 has endorsed a plan which will enable the freezing of debt obligations to developing nations.

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Kristalina Georgieva, IMF boss hints at 'synchronized slowdown' in global growth , IMF: 40% of African countries can't pay back their debts , Nigeria worse off, posts grows lower than LIDC benchmark - IMF, Measures introduced by Nigeria to ensure transparent use of the $3.4b IMF loan

The G-20, in a bid to combat the economic fallouts of the pandemic, has endorsed a plan which will enable the freezing of debt obligations to developing nations till mid-2021.

This was reported by Reuters after the group met over the weekend to discuss vaccine relief and other pressing issues. They also agreed on a common approach to dealing with debt relief.

The G-20 leaders announced in a communique urging private creditors to extend debt relief to nations that are eligible for the initiative.

READ: Africa seeking extra $44 billion to deal with COVID-19 pandemic

What they are saying

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The Head of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, urged that the world still runs the risk of falling into another crisis and called for closer cooperation through faster integration of the G-20 Framework. She added that the G-20’s efforts in combating the pandemic have helped soften the economic fallout caused by covid-19.

“The world is not out of the woods yet in terms of this crisis. Cooperation is going to be even more important going forward,” she said.

READ: Nigeria to generate $6 billion through Blockchain by 2030-NITDA

“We must also help those countries not covered by the Framework to address debt vulnerabilities, so that their economies can become more resilient,” she added.

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What you should know 

Nairametrics reported that the G-20 met earlier this weekend and agreed to announce a pledge to pay for vaccine distribution to developing nations that can’t afford it. The leaders also discussed a debt extension programme to developing nations during the weekend’s G-20 summit.

READ: Largest private investment in Africa begins $15 billion financing

In April 2020, Ministers of Finance from African countries requested debt relief from bilateral, multilateral, and commercial partners to cushion the negative impact of the coronavirus.

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(READ MORE: Covid-19: Nigeria to seek $750 million from World Bank- Finance Minister)

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Last Month, Nairametrics reported that the total external debt of the least developed countries under the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) has increased by 9.55% to $744 billion in 2019. This was disclosed in the World Bank’s International Debt Statistics 2021.

The global Debt Service Suspension Initiative by rich nations made it eligible for 73 countries to have their debt frozen. However, only 46 countries took part in the initiative, freezing up to 5.7 billion in 2020 debt service payments.

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Coronavirus

COVID-19: Evidence suggests that new variants could pose challenge for vaccines

The research findings show that the new COVID variants may likely not respond well to the vaccines.

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Recent research findings suggest that the new coronavirus variants would likely pose a big challenge for the vaccines, as revealed by studies by several medical researchers.

The new variant was first discovered in South Africa in October but has now been spread to more than a dozen countries all over the world.

According to the most recent findings, as reported by CNN, researchers took antibodies from six people who were hospitalized with Covid-19 before the new variant was discovered. They found to varying degrees, that the antibodies for all six of the survivors were unable to fully fight off the virus.

According to Alex Sigal, a virologist at the Africa Health Research Institute and the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, “I think the evidence is building that these mutations — and I think other mutations — will emerge across the globe — and are emerging already — that are escaping antibodies from previous infection. It’s concerning.”

According to Jesse Bloom, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, “When you see two groups independently arriving at same basic answer, that good — there’s more consonance that they are correct”

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What you should know

  • Sigal’s findings were very similar to those of a recent study by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa.
  • A research study has revealed that mutations in the new variant allowed them to evade some of the immunity induced by vaccination, but it was far from a complete escape.
  • One thing that is critically safe for everyone is to get vaccinated, while the researchers are working to confirm whether these variants are dangerous or not to contain with the vaccines.
  • According to Alex Sigal, “I would for sure get it if I could. My father-in-law had the opportunity to fly to Israel and get it, and I was shooing him out of the house because you can’t get it here in South Africa.”
  • In a research study done at Rockefeller University, from a sample of 20 people who had received either the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine, it was found that different mutations in the viruses did allow some escape from some types of antibodies, but the volunteers’ immune systems threw an army of different types of antibodies at the viruses.
  • According to the research conducted in South Africa, blood was drawn from 44 people who had Covid-19 but the antibodies of about half of the 44 people were powerless against the new variant, while the other half, their antibody responses were weakened, but not totally knocked out.

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Coronavirus

Covid-19: Buhari approves N6.45 billion to set up 38 oxygen production plants

President Buhari has approved the sum of N6.45 billion for the set-up of 38 oxygen production plants across the country.

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Buhari sacks DG National Directorate of Employment, Nasiru Argungu

President Muhammadu Buhari has announced his approval of N6.45 billion for the set-up of 38 oxygen production plants across the country, in a bid to contain the second wave of Covid-19.

The President disclosed this in a statement on Thursday evening after the first National Economic Council meeting of the year presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, with State Governors, Federal Capital Territory Minister, Central Bank Governor, and other senior government officials in attendance.

READ: Covid-19: FG directs universities to suspend academic activities till further notice

“As part of efforts to contain the second wave of Covid-19, we’re setting up new oxygen production plants in 38 locations across Nigeria—to enhance the management of patients in need of oxygen.

“I have equally approved funding for the rehabilitation of oxygen plants in 5 hospitals,” Buhari said.

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The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed said the President said the fund’s release was necessitated by the rising cases of Covid-19 in the country with patients needing oxygen.

READ: Toyota suspends operations in China over Coronavirus outbreak 

What you should know 

  • Recall Nairametrics reported that the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, warned that the rising second wave of the pandemic in Lagos had seen the demand for oxygen rise 5 times from 70 six-liter cylinders per day to 350 six-liter cylinders at Yaba Mainland Hospital alone.
  • He added that the state government had the decentralized provision of oxygen and other services needed for Covid-19 patients, citing the provision of oxygen kiosks.

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Around the World

President Biden directs international air travelers must quarantine upon arrival

President Joe Biden has directed international air travellers to quarantine upon arrival in the United States.

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Joe Biden gains additional 4.6 million Twitter followers in less than 12 hours

The United States President Joe Biden has issued an executive order on Thursday that makes it mandatory for international air travellers to quarantine upon arrival in the US.

Similarly, the executive order also includes a directive that all interstate travellers in the US will be expected to wear a face mask. This travel order applies to airports and planes, trains, ferries, intercity buses and public transportation, but grants them the ability to issue exemptions.

READ: Here is reason Turkish Airlines was allowed to land in Abuja 

What the US President is saying in the executive order

According to a report from Reuters, President Biden’s order says, ‘‘To the extent, feasible air travellers must comply with applicable U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines concerning international travel ‘including recommended periods of self-quarantine.

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However, the executive order does not explain how it will be enforced as the implementation still remains quite hazy.

READ: A Joe Biden presidency and its impact on Nigeria’s oil

The order also directs US agencies to engage with Canada and Mexico on public health protocols for land ports of entry including implementing CDC guidelines. Almost all non-essential travel at US land borders with Canada and Mexico has been suspended till February 21.

The CDC recommends a 7-day quarantine for people arriving in the United States from nearly all countries.

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READ: Biden reverses US immigration ban on Nigeria, others

Biden is directing agencies to reconsider international contact tracing requirements for U.S.-bound passengers, which was abandoned by the Trump White House, as well as the possibility of follow-up Covid-19 testing for travellers after they arrive in the United States.

In addition, the US President has also directed that all travellers including US citizens, will be required to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test before entering the country from abroad in an order that underscores the CDC policy announced last week.

READ: Air travellers across Nigerian Airports hit 8.5 million in 6-month

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What you should know

  • It can be recalled that the Trump administration had resisted calls for the enforcement of a mask-wearing requirement.
  • The Biden administration has also announced that it would reimpose coronavirus-related ban on most non-U.S. citizens arriving from European Union, Brazil, the United Kingdom.
  • This follows the lifting of the restrictions by former US President, Donald Trump through an executive order on Monday.

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