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U.S. tightens COVID-19 travel rules as countries race to quell Omicron threat

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Omicron
Air travellers to the United States (U.S.) will face tougher Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing rules as several countries moved to seal-off their borders amid growing uncertainty around the virulence of the Omicron variant.

The Omicron variant has the ability to dodge existing vaccines.

In Asia-Pacific, Hong Kong and Japan said they would expand travel curbs, while Australia was bracing for more Omicron cases after at least two people visited several locations in its biggest city while likely infectious.

In an attempt to stave off hasty global border restrictions, the World Health Organisation called on countries to apply “an evidence-informed and risk-based approach” to travel measures.

Blanket travel bans will not prevent the spread, and they “place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods”, the WHO said.

More than 50 countries were reportedly implementing travel measures aimed at potentially delaying import of Omicron as of Nov. 28, the WHO added.

Investors remained on edge on Wednesday, even as financial markets came off lows plumbed a day earlier following remarks by the CEO of Moderna that raised questions about the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines against Omicron.

Global health officials have since sought to offer reassurances and reiterated calls for people to get vaccinated.

“Even if the new variant becomes more widespread, the vaccines we have will continue to provide protection,” European Medicines Agency Executive Director Emer Cooke said.

Echoing remarks by vaccine maker BioNTech and scientists, Cooke said laboratory analyses should indicate over the next two weeks whether the blood of vaccinated people has sufficient antibodies to neutralise the new variant.

BioNTech’s CEO said the vaccine it makes in a partnership with Pfizer would likely offer strong protection against severe disease from Omicron.

The World Health Organisation classified Omicron as a “variant of concern,” due to the number of mutations that might help it spread or evade antibodies from prior infection or vaccination.

First reported in southern Africa a week ago, Omicron has triggered global alarm, led to travel bans, and highlighted the disparity between massive vaccination pushes in rich nations and sparse inoculation in the developing world.

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Metro

Nnamdi Kanu: Imo residents observe sit-at-home for IPOB leader’s trial

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Residents of Imo State, especially Orlu town and Owerri municipal, on Tuesday, stayed indoors to observe the sit-at-home order issued by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in solidarity with its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who appeared in court today.

It was gathered that the state secretariat, motor parks, schools, banks, shops and markets across the major cities were all shut down.

Even the Imo State University junction, Government House Roundabout, Control Post Roundabout, Warehouse junction Roundabout, Ikenegbu, Mbari, Douglas, Okigwe Road, and Wethedral Roads, were scanty.

In Orlu, the ever-busy Banana junction and Okwudo junction were more like ghost towns.

A journalist, Mr Martin Nwoke, in Owerri North Local Government Area of the state, made a passionate appeal to the Federal Government to release Nnamdi Kanu.

He said Imolites and the people of southeast states were the ones suffering the heat of the order.

Nwoke said, “In this part of the world, everything we do here involves money. I am begging President Buhari to pity us and free Nnamdi Kanu.”

A lawyer, Barr. Emeka Obi, told our correspondent that he could not go to file a court process due to non-availability of transport, while children, who could not go to school, resorted to playing football on the streets at Akwakuma.

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Plateau monarch abducted

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Barely three weeks after the kidnap of a paramount ruler in Plateau State, the military task force responsible for the maintenance of peace in the state, code-named Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), has confirmed that gunmen have abducted HRH. Da Gyang Balak Gut, the Da Gwom Rwei of Vwang District of Jos South Local Government Area of the state.

The traditional ruler was kidnapped on Sunday night on his way home to Vom, a few metres from the gate of the National Institute For Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru in Jos South LGA.

Recalls that following the abduction of the Sum Pyem, Da Charles Mato Dakat, on the 26th December, 2021, before he was released five days later, the United Mwaghavul Lawyers Association (UMLA) had described the incident as not an attack on an individual, but on the entire traditional institution in Plateau State.

The lawyers equally had said it views the kidnapping of the royal father as not an isolated incident, “but the beginning of a well-orchestrated plan to intimidate and decapitate our treasured leaders in the state and the Middle Belt at large”.

While condemning the dastardly act, on behalf of UMLA, Barr. Philemon Daffi reminded the federal, state and local governments of their shared responsibility under the 1999 Constitution as amended.

Spokesman of OPSH, Major Ishaku Takwa, who confirmed the incident, said, “Troops of Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) in conjunction with other security agencies are on trail of the kidnappers.

“God’s willing, the security agencies will soon close-up on the criminals”, he maintained.

Vwang District is where the famous National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), Vom is situated in Plateau State.

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Metro

Suspected cultists arrested with female pant, charms in Delta

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Police operatives attached to the Delta state police command raiders unit, have arrested twenty suspected cultists at a black spot in Ogarafe,  Oghara in Ethiope west LGA of the state.

Confirming the arrest to newsmen, the spokesperson of the state police command, DSP Edafe Bright, said during the raid of the hot spot, a fabricated wooden gun, six hundred and forty-eight wraps of weed suspected to be Indian hemp, one used female pant, various charms, one Knife, Sixteen bottles of codeine, ten packs of razlers, one Grinder used in grinding weeds and the sum of sixty-nine thousand (#69,000) were recovered from the suspect.

He said the suspect will be arraigned in court soon.

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