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South Africa denies UK’s claim of new strain of coronavirus

South Africa has denied that a new variant of the coronavirus discovered in the country caused the outbreak of the second wave of infections in the UK.

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Bill Gates Foundation, Mastercard, others fund research on hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine for COVID-19 cure

The South African government has denied allegations that a new variant of the coronavirus that was discovered in the country played a huge part in the outbreak of the second wave of infections in the UK, and criticized its decision to impose travel restrictions.

While rejecting the allegation, South Africa’s Health Minister, Zweli Mkhize, in a statement, on Thursday, disclosed that a new virus variant that was detected in the UK had a mutation occurring at a site common with the South African strain, known as 501.V2, but they were of two completely independent lineages.

READ: COVID-19 mutant strain causes chaos at Oil markets

According to a report from Bloomberg, Mkhize said that there was no evidence that 501.V2 caused more severe disease or increased mortality than any other variant that had been sequenced around the world, he said.

The comment from Mkhize follows an announcement from UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, that flights from South Africa would be banned, and that anyone who had stayed there for 2 weeks must quarantine immediately. Several other countries have also barred flights from South Africa.

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READ: Covid-19: UK Govt warns of new strain that spreads faster and may have already left the UK

What the South African Health Minister is saying

Mkhize, while citing ongoing research by the Network for Genomic Surveillance in South Africa, which was launched in June, said the new UK strain was discovered about a month before the South African variant appeared to have developed. He described Hancock’s announcement as unfortunate.

READ: COVID-19: 79% of Africans are disposed to taking vaccine – Africa CDC Survey Report

He said, “It is the widely shared view of the scientific community that, given the current circumstantial evidence, the risks of travel bans may outweigh the benefits, and that it is possible to contain the variants while sustaining international travel. We, therefore, maintain that non-pharmaceutical interventions and strict containment measures remain most important to reduce the risk of transmission.”

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READ: Covid-19: Second wave more catastrophic, we lost 20 doctors in one week – NMA

What you should know                   

  • It can be recalled that a few days ago, the UK government announced new travel restrictions on passengers coming from South Africa with effect from 9 am Thursday, December 24, to protect public health due to a reported outbreak of Covid-19, with a variant strain spreading in some provinces.
  • The easing of restrictions in South Africa, several months ago, has seen a surge in coronavirus cases in the country, and a second wave is now coinciding with the summer holidays.

READ: Covid-19: FG explains why it reconsidered imposing travel ban

Chike Olisah is a graduate of accountancy with over 15 years working experience in the financial service sector. He has worked in research and marketing departments of three top commercial banks. Chike is a senior member of the Nairametrics Editorial Team. You may contact him via his email- [email protected]

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Coronavirus

Only 68.8% of Nigerians believe Covid-19 is real – SBM Intel

The survey revealed that 68.8% of Nigerians believe Corona is real, 14.4% are not sure while 16.7% don’t believe it’s real.

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As the country and indeed, the rest of the world continues to be ravaged by the pandemic, only 68.8% of Nigerians believe Covid-19 is real. While 39.9% of Nigerians say they will take the vaccine, 63.3% are opposed to another lockdown.

These and more details were disclosed by SBM Intel, a geopolitical research and strategic communications consulting firm in its recent Covid-19 report titled, ” Covid in Nigeria: The Second Wave”.

“The age demographics of the correspondents for the survey were chosen across a broad age category., “The majority of the respondents were between 28-40 years (36.7%) followed by those between 18-27 years (24.0%), then 41-55 years (22.2%) which represents the active (working) population. 9.5% of the respondents were older than 55 years, and a smaller percentage, 7.7% were younger than 18 years,” the report revealed.

If Corona is real…

  • The survey revealed that 68.8% of Nigerians believe Corona is real, 14.4% are not sure while 16.7% don’t believe it’s real.
  • Ekiti, Enugu, Kogi, Nasarawa, and Sokoto states had less than 50% of their respondents stating that the virus is real. These states have relatively low official death rates, Ekiti (7), Enugu (21), Kogi (2), Nasarawa (13) and Sokoto (20) compared to states with high death rates as Lagos (250), the FCT (106) and Edo (117).

An interviewee said: “The virus is real, but does not believe that it is present in Nigeria because people are not dying and they are not observing most of the precautions.”

  • The report disclosed that most people of all age categories don’t deny the existence of a virus, however, people who are older than 55 years have the highest percentage of respondents who are unsure of the existence of coronavirus, citing reduced social interactions and smaller circles which keeps them away from contact with infected persons.

If people are taking the right steps to prevent the virus

Despite the fact that over 68% of the respondents believe that the virus is real, 59.5% of the respondents representing a majority of the respondents do not think that people are taking the right measures to prevent COVID-19.

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  • “More interestingly, in some public institutions like banks and eateries where private security personnel enforces compliance with mask-wearing and hand sanitizing, people tend to comply just because such enforcement serves as an entry ticket. Researchers observed that once many people got into such premises, they took off their masks and started to flout other precautionary measures.

Covid-19 vaccinations 

  • “Only 39.9% of the respondents said they will take the vaccine. An almost equal proportion of respondents (35.9 %) said they will not take the vaccine which the government announced is to arrive in the country at the end of January, and 24.1% are unsure of their position at the moment.
  • Reasons for not wanting to receive the vaccine include mistrust with the government and religious beliefs.
  • “Some respondents held that it is a religious war to contaminate the children of God with evil substances. Some believe that the vaccines are a tool to depopulate Nigeria, while others expressed concern about the effectiveness ratio and the side-effects that the vaccine might have,” SBM said.

In case of another lockdown

  • 63.3% of Nigerians are opposed to another lockdown. The report cited the number is much lower than the past report which revealed 90.24% were opposed to the idea of another lockdown.
  • 15.1% are on the fence on this issue and only 21.6% of the respondents would support another lockdown.
  • Opposition to lockdowns was linked to economic and security impacts witnessed during the previous lockdown as the economy contracted to lead to unemployment and increased hardship for Nigerians.

What you should know 

  • Nairametrics reported that the Federal Government said that Nigeria is not contemplating another lockdown and urged Nigerians to ignore social media posts rumouring of the possibility of another lockdown.
  • President Muhammadu Buhari already disclosed in October 2020 that the Nigerian economy is too fragile to go into another lockdown.
  • Professor Julius Ihonvbere, Chairman, House Committee on Basic Education & Services, said the Federal and States governments should not impose a lockdown, but rather focus on serious control measures to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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Coronavirus

COVID-19: FG to acquire vaccines that need less cooling

The FG has stated that it is in talks with Russia and India to procure vaccines that are less dependent on cooling facilities.

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Covid-19: AstraZeneca vaccine gets huge boost, produces immune response in elderly, Vaccine, COVID-19: Russia to roll out vaccine in September ahead of the West 

The Nigerian Government says it doesn’t plan to over-invest in Covid-19 vaccines that require extra cold storage and that it will prioritize vaccines that don’t require much cooling.

This was disclosed by Faisal Shuaib, National Primary Health Care Development Agency Chief in a briefing with newsmen on Tuesday reported by Reuters.

READ: Africa to spend $9 billion on Covid-19 vaccine, access to supply is big problem

“Our plan now is not to over-invest on ultracold equipment for vaccines like that of Pfizer vaccines, but go for vaccines that need less cooling facilities.

“We are currently engaged in talks with Russia and India to get more vaccines,” he said.

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READ: COVID-19: FG to disburse N10 billion for local vaccine production

What you should know 

  • Nairametrics reported earlier this month that the Federal Government stated that the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) with its partners, is working to fix healthcare value chain roadblocks that may affect the fair distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.
  • The FG also disclosed through the NPHCDA its initial distribution plan for vaccines with the highest share of vaccines going to Kano State 3,557; Lagos 3,131; Katsina 2,361; Kaduna 2,074; Bauchi 1,900; Oyo 1,848; Rivers 1,766; Jigawa 1,712; Niger 1,558; Ogun 1,473; Sokoto 1,468; Benue 1,423; Borno 1,416; Anambra 1,379; Zamfara 1,336; Delta 1,306.

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Coronavirus

Covid-19: Oxygen demand in Lagos State has risen 5 times – Sanwo-Olu

Governor Sanwo-Olu has lamented the rising second wave of the pandemic in Lagos as the demand for oxygen increases by 5 times.

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The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has warned that the rising second wave of the pandemic in Lagos has seen the demand for oxygen rise 5 times from 70 six-litre cylinders per day to 350 six-litre cylinders at Yaba Mainland Hospital alone.

The Governor also urged that all malaria-like symptoms should henceforth be considered as COVID-19 virus infection unless and until proven not to be so.

This was disclosed in a statement released by the Lagos State Government on Tuesday.

READ: Covid-19: Nigeria needs serious controls not a second lockdown – House Committee on Education

“Over the last few weeks, the demands for oxygen has risen from 70 six-litre cylinders per day to 350 six-litre cylinders in our Yaba Mainland Hospital. This is projected to more than double to 750 six-cylinders, before the end of January 2021,” the Governor said.

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He added that the State Government has decentralized provision of oxygen and other services needed for Covid-19 patients, citing provision of oxygen kiosks.

“ln addition to providing oxygen at our isolation centres, the Lagos State Government has decentralized the availability of oxygen across the State through the provision of 10 oxygen and sampling kiosks. Oxygen therapy and other related services will be provided to patients that require them.

READ: NPHCDA to address infrastructural gaps in COVID-19 vaccine supply

“Five of these 10 oxygen centers have been commissioned while the remaining five will be ready for use within the next four weeks. It is our expectation that these sampling kiosks would be easily accessible to residents that require oxygen therapy at the level of LGAs as stabilization points prior to onward transmission to our Isolation centres, if required.

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“This strategy is to further increase the fighting chance of Lagos residents that have contracted the virus and require immediate oxygen therapy,” he stated.

READ: Nigerian government spends equivalent of 83% of revenue to service debt in 2020

The Governor said that Lagos is closely monitoring plans by the FG to acquire vaccines and said the State has also resumed discussion with potential manufacturers. He also said the State is building its own regulatory framework for vaccine distribution.

“We are closely monitoring ongoing action by the Federal Government to procure COVID-19 vaccines for use in Nigeria. We have also opened discussions with vaccine manufacturers so that when the vaccine comes eventually we can ensure that Lagosians are catered for.

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“In the meantime, we are developing a strategy that will articulate the criteria, guidelines and regulatory framework for providing and monitoring vaccinations in Lagos.

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“The Lagos State Government is actively partnering with the private sector in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the areas of testing, oxygen deployment, as well as the clinical management of moderate to severe cases. These partnerships have helped enhance the State’s response to the ever-changing circumstances of the pandemic,” Sanwo-Olu added.

READ: Nigeria spends N29 trillion on recurrent (non-debt) expenditure in last 10 years

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What you should know 

  • The Lagos State Government earlier disclosed that its bed occupancy levels at its public and private COVID-19 care centres increased to 51 per cent.
  • The Federal Government also alerted Nigerians that hospitals across the country are running out of facilities to handle more serious cases of coronavirus infections as the virus is spreading fast with mild symptoms in some victims and severe illnesses and death in others.
  • Nairametrics recently reported that the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Finance, announced the sum of N10 billion for the production of vaccines in Nigeria, to fight the coronavirus.

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