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Nigeria records 500% increase in COVID-19 infections, in 2 weeks, says NCDC

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Nigeria recorded a 500 per cent increase in COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks across the country.

This is contained in a statement issued and signed by the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control(NCDC), Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, in Abuja.

Adetifa attributed the 500 per cent increase in infections in the country to the COVID-19 Delta and Omicron variants.

“As of Dec. 19, Nigeria reported 223,887 cases and 2,985 deaths in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

“The country is now in a fourth COVID-19 wave.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, the Federal Ministry of Health, as well as NCDC and its partners, are therefore intensifying risk communication efforts to remind Nigerians of the risk we face and need to take collective responsibility to reduce transmission of the virus.

“The response to COVID-19 requires a whole-of-society approach. Therefore, individuals, families and institutions also need to play their part in protecting each other by ensuring adherence to COVID-19 public health and social measures,” he explained.

He also disclosed that the NCDC was launching its yuletide season campaign themed #CelebrateResponsibly as part of the #TakeResponsibility campaign which began in February 2020.

“#CelebrateResponsibly focuses specifically on measures Nigerians need to take to protect themselves and loved ones from COVID-19 during this period.

“The #CelebrateResponsibly campaign targets the entertainment industry, transport industry, religious settings, media, security personnel, young people, and the general public to promote adherence to COVID-19 preventive measures during this festive period,” he added.

He urged Nigerians to adhere to recommended measures by the agency and other public health authorities, as they celebrate Christmas and New Year.

“Please avoid all non-essential travel within and outside Nigeria to reduce the risk of transmission.

“The virus that causes COVID-19 is more likely to spread in mass gatherings especially when held indoors with full capacity and poor ventilation.

“We strongly recommend outdoor events with physical distancing, compulsory use of facemasks, and provision of handwashing facilities or hand sanitisers.

“Please make use of every opportunity provided to get vaccinated against COVID-19,” he advised.

The NCDC boss noted that the government had made the COVID-19 vaccines available for all eligible citizens and booster doses available for those previously vaccinated.

The Celebrate Responsibly campaign which spans from the Christmas holiday through to the start of the new year, he said, emphasises the responsibility of all Nigerians, the government, private sector, institutions, associations, communities, families and individuals in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

Religious leaders and heads of institutions, organisations and businesses, he added, are urged to enforce public compliance to COVID-19 preventive measures in their jurisdiction.

“COVID-19 continues to threaten the lives and the livelihoods of Nigerians therefore we must not let our guards down this festive season.

“We urge Nigerians to take all precautions necessary to ensure we and our loved ones live to celebrate many more events and festivities.

“The campaign includes the production of key messages, audio and visual materials for wide dissemination.

“The NCDC urges all individuals, traditional and religious leaders, business owners, the media, transport workers and other institutions and sectors to join the campaign by adopting the key messages and sharing within their networks,” he said.

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Nigeria records three more cases of Omicron variant, total now six

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Tuesday announced the discovery of three additional cases of the Omicron variant in the country.

The agency had on Wednesday detected the first three cases of the variant. With Tuesday’s discovery, the total number of the omicron variant cases in Nigeria stands at six.

Last week, Canada after it said it detected three cases with travel history to Nigeria, banned travellers from the country.

Also, on Saturday the United Kingdom placed a travel ban on Nigeria following the discovery of 21 Omicron cases with travel history to Nigeria.

On Tuesday, the NCDC, in a statement signed by its Director General, Ifedayo Adetifa stated that three additional cases of the variant had been discovered.

He said, “The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has confirmed three more cases of COVID-19 with the B.1.1.529 SARS-CoV-2 lineage, i.e., the Omicron variant, in Nigeria. In addition to the three cases announced earlier on 1st December 2021, this brings the total number of confirmed cases of the Omicron variant detected in Nigeria to six .”

The NCDC also added that it had been notified by the UK of seven cases of the omicron variant which were linked to passengers from Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Governor’s Forum has condemned the stigmatization of Nigeria by the United kingdom and Canada by placing travel ban on the country, describing it as precipitate, unfair and discriminatory.

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Omicron: Canada issues travel ban on Nigeria, others

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Canadian authorities have issued a travel ban on Nigeria in a bid to curb the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

The announcement was made on Tuesday December 30. Other countries affected by the travel ban include South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Nigeria, Malawi and Egypt.

Canadian Transport Minister, Omar Alghabra, has said foreign nationals who had been to these countries in the previous 14 days would be temporarily banned from entering Canada.

Alghabra added that Canadians and permanent residents who have been in the 10 countries, even those who are fully vaccinated, must also be tested before entering Canada.

This is coming as the Nigeria Center for Disease and Control (NCDC) announced that two cases of Omicron variant had been detected in the country.

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NAFDAC demands hazard allowance for staff

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Moji Adeyeye, NAFDAC Director-General,
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on Tuesday demanded for hazard allowance its staff who play critical roles in the regulation of drugs and foods in the country.

Prof. Moji Adeyeye, NAFDAC Director-General, made the demand at a news conference in Abuja while giving her stewardship in office in the last four years.

She said that the allowance became necessary following the threat some of the staff go through while discharging their duties.

The director-general stated that a lot of restructuring had happened in the agency to strengthen its workforce and reposition it to enable it carry out its mandate effectively.

Adeyeye disclosed that with the efforts the agency was putting up in the regulation of COVID-19 vaccine, Nigeria would be able to manufacture her own COVID-19 vaccine come 2022.

“I met an agency whose regulatory activities were at the lowest ebb, staff morale was low, glaring cases of indiscipline and labour union strikes as well as general lack of administrative focus and direction.

“I knew the regulatory framework was weak and therefore needed systemic overhauling. I quickly realised that it will take putting in place seven international building blocks that are based on World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations.

“For strong regulatory framework, a quality system approach or template must be in place that places premium on the customer. Therefore, we decided to adopt an agency-wide quality management system (ISO 9001) that took the entire staff through training.

“We have been working towards attaining maturity level three to enable Nigeria to strengthen our systems and to enable Nigeria manufacture vaccines,” she said.

She said that the WHO officials were in the country to audit the agency activities and were glad about what they saw on ground, adding that the basis for their satisfaction was on the different building blocks NAFDAC put in place.

Adeyeye said that the agency had restructured and expanded in structure from 13 directorates to 18 directorates across the country including the FCT, adding that five newly created directorates are laboratory services.

She added that 40 utility vehicles vital to the operation of the agency had been purchased, while another 73 vehicles were undergoing process by the agency, saying some of them would be used for state operations.

She said that the agency had revamped its information communication technology, and that there had been an improvement in the communication system between the agency and the public.

The director-general said that the agency had been proactive and vigilant in its investigation, enforcement, posts inspection and pharmacovigilance activities in the area of food safety, applied nutrition, narcotics and control substance.

She disclosed that the agency had deployed multifaceted strategies in its efforts to combat substandard, falsified, illicit drugs and chemicals.

Adeyeye said that the agency had established a traceability office and a technical working group to drive the activities in its five years implementation plan, adding that NAFDAC was now using traceability to monitor distribution of vaccines across the country.

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