The United Kingdom said on Thursday that it would extend a ban to international passengers from Southern African countries coming into the country, as part of the measures aimed at preventing the spread of a new strain of Covid-19 variant identified in South Africa.
According to a report from Reuters, the UK government said that the restriction is expected to take effect on Saturday and will be in place for 2 weeks.
This new measure by the UK government reflects increased risks from the new strain of the coronavirus disease.
The UK Department for Transport, in a statement, said:
- “Entry into England will be banned to those who have travelled from or through any southern African country in the last 10 days, including Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Eswatini, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho, Mozambique and Angola – as well as Seychelles and Mauritius.
- “Israel (and Jerusalem) would be removed from the list of travel corridors for England and people arriving from January 9 from Botswana, Israel (and Jerusalem), Mauritius or Seychelles would need to self-isolate.”
What you should know
- It can be recalled that the UK government had temporarily banned the entry of passengers arriving from South Africa to England with effect from December 24, excluding British and Irish Nationals, visa holders and permanent residents, who will be able to enter but are required to self-isolate for 10 days.
- The UK has been among the countries worst-hit by Covid-19, its economy suffered the sharpest contraction of any in the Group of Seven during the first wave of infections last spring, and it is currently being hit by the outbreak of the second wave of the disease.
South African President appeals to wealthy countries not to hoard COVID-19 vaccines
South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa has called on the world’s wealthiest countries to stop “hoarding” vaccines.
The South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa has urged the world’s wealthiest countries to stop “hoarding” vaccines and called for an end to “vaccine nationalism.”
He made this call at the World Economic Forum’s virtual Davos Agenda event, where he clearly cautioned that some countries had ordered more supplies of vaccines than they needed, and that this was counterproductive to the global recovery effort.
According to him,
- “Ending the pandemic worldwide will require greater collaboration on the rollout of vaccines, ensuring that no country is left behind in this effort”
- “The rich countries of the world went out and acquired large doses of vaccines from the developers and manufacturers of these vaccines, and some countries have even gone beyond and acquired up to four times what their populations need”
- “That was aimed at hoarding these vaccines and now this is being done to the exclusion of other countries in the world that most need this”
What they are saying
According to Africa CDC Director, John Nkengasong, the African continent is quite facing a “very aggressive second wave” of the pandemic, with mortality increasing on average 18% across the 55 African member states last week.
“We as a continent must recognize that vaccines will not be here when we want them, but as such we need to really focus on the public health measures that we know work”
He however praised the progress of the African Vaccine Acquisition Task (AVAT) Team, which he said was created when AU nations realized “how the world’s richest countries are behaving.”
What you should know
- South Africa is the country, worst hit by Covid-19 on the continent.
- As at date, the country had recorded more than 1.4 million cases with 41,117 deaths.
- The African Vaccine Acquisition Task (AVAT) Team has secured a provisional 270 million doses for AU member states directly, in addition to the 600 million expected from the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative.
IMF optimistic about global economy but warns new Covid variants could affect recovery
IMF is quite optimistic about the fortune of the global economy but expressed fear that the new Covid variant could derail economic recovery.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has expressed optimism about the global economy but warns that the new COVID 19 variant could affect the global economic growth, according to its latest World Economic Outlook.
According to the report, “the institution now expects the global economy to grow 5.5% this year — a 0.3 percentage point increase from October’s forecasts. It sees global GDP (gross domestic product) expanding by 4.2% in 2022”.
According to its Chief Economist, Gita Gopinath:
- “Much now depends on the outcome of this race between a mutating virus and vaccines to end the pandemic, and on the ability of policies to provide effective support until that happens.
- “There remains tremendous uncertainty and prospects vary greatly across countries.
- “China returned to its pre-pandemic projected level in the fourth quarter of 2020, ahead of all large economies. The United States is projected to surpass its pre-Covid levels this year, well ahead of the euro area.
- “Policy actions should ensure effective support until the recovery is firmly underway, with an emphasis on advancing key imperatives of raising potential output, ensuring participatory growth that benefits all, and accelerating the transition to lower carbon dependence.”
What you should know
- There has been a surge in the number of reported cases of the new variant Covid-19 infections and deaths over the past few months.
- The new variant has been described as being more infectious and potentially deadlier than the original strain.
- The IMF had cut its GDP forecasts for the euro zone this year by 1%.
- It is being projected that the 19-member region, which has been severely hit by the pandemic, would grow by 4.2% this year.
- Germany, France, Italy and Spain — the four largest economies in the euro zone — also saw their growth expectations cut for 2021.
- Economic activity in the region slowed in the final quarter of 2020 and this is expected to continue into the first part of 2021. The IMF does not expect the euro area economy to return to end-of-2019 levels before the end of 2022.
- IMF revised its GDP forecast upward by 2% points on the back of a strong momentum in the second part of 2020 and additional fiscal support, with GDP expected to grow to 5.1% this year.
FG says N10 billion disbursed funds not only for Covid-19 vaccines
FG has clarified that the N10 billion it earlier disbursed was not only for the development of Covid-19 vaccines.
The Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning has said that the N10 billion it released for vaccine development is not only for the production of Covid-19 vaccines.
This was disclosed by the Director-General of the Budget Office, Mr. Ben Akabueze, representing the Finance Minister during a meeting with the National Assembly Joint Committee on Health on Monday, reported by NTA.
Following the announcement of the disbursement of the sum of N10 billion to the Ministry of Health for the development of Covid-19 vaccine, the Joint Committee scheduled a meeting with the Ministers of Finance and Health for clarifications on the funds.
“The joint committee is invited to note that N10 billion has been released, to the Federal Ministry of Health under the budgetary vote referenced in above,” Akabueze said.
Ibrahim Oloriegbe, Chairman, Senate Committee on health, said the Committee wanted to know what the use of the funds was for and urged against the implementation of a lockdown.
“We got to see that what was released was in line with what was already there, for preparing the country for all other vaccines arrangements
“So our economy, we only need to live with covid, we cannot with due respect, contaminate Nigeria with a lockdown, it will badly affect our economy,” Oloriegbe said.
The committee also said the total aim is to see how Nigeria can develop its capacity towards the development of vaccines,
The Joint Committee, therefore, resolved that the Minister of Health who was absent at the meeting should appear before it on Tuesday for a breakdown on the proposed use of the funds.
What you should know: Nairametrics reported last week that the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Finance, announced the sum of N10billion for the production of vaccines in Nigeria, to fight the coronavirus.