The World Health Organisation (WHO) says COVID-19 deaths have increased by 80 per cent in the past one month in Africa, mostly driven by the highly-transmissible Delta variant.
The Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said on Friday at his regular COVID-19 briefing that the Delta variant had been detected in at least 132 countries.
Ghebreyesus said almost four million cases worldwide were reported last week to WHO and the agency expected the total number of cases to pass 200 million in the next two weeks.
“And we know this is an underestimate.
“Infections have increased in every region of the world, with some even reaching 80 per cent more in the past month. In Africa, deaths have increased by 80 per cent over the same period,’’ the official warned.
The director-general blamed the rise of cases on increased social mixing and mobility, the inconsistent use of public health and social measures, and inequitable vaccine use.
He said “hard-won gains” were in jeopardy or being lost, and health systems in many countries were increasingly overwhelmed.
“WHO has warned that the COVID-19 virus has been changing since it was first reported, and it continues to change. So far, four variants of concern have emerged, and there will be more as long as the virus continues to spread.’’
In June, the WHO chief announced the setting up of a technology transfer hub for mRNA vaccines in South Africa as part of WHO’s efforts to scale up production of vaccines and their distribution in Africa.
“Today, we have taken another step forward, with a letter of intent that sets out the terms of collaboration signed by the partners in the hub.
“WHO: the Medicines Patent Pool, Afrigen Biologics; the Biologicals and Vaccines Institute of Southern Africa; the South African Medical Research Council and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention,” he explained.
According to him, WHO’s goal remains to aid every country in vaccinating at least 10 per cent of its population by the end of September.
“At least, 40 per cent by the end of this year, and 70 per cent by the middle of next year.
“We are a long way off achieving those targets. So far, just over half of countries have fully vaccinated 10 per cent of their population, less than a quarter of countries have vaccinated 40 per cent, and only three countries have vaccinated 70 per cent.”
The WHO head reminded that the global distribution of vaccines remains unjust, in spite expert warnings and appeals, and said that all regions remain at risk, “none more so, than Africa”.
“On current trends, nearly 70 per cent of African countries will not reach the 10 per cent vaccination target by the end of September,” he cautioned.
Ghebreyesus also announced that on response to the Delta surge, the WHO’s Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator was inaugurating the Rapid ACT-Accelerator Delta Response, or RADAR, and issuing an urgent call for 7.7 billion U.S. dollars for tests, treatments and vaccine.
Lead WHO epidemiologist and COVID-19 technical lead, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, explained that the Delta variant had certain mutations that allow the virus to adhere to human cells more easily and that experts were also seeing a higher viral load in individuals infected.
She called Delta “dangerous and the most transmissible SARS-CoV-2 virus to date,” adding “there are some laboratory studies that suggest that there’s increase replication in some of the modelled human airway systems.
In terms of severity, Kerkhove highlighted that there had6 been an increase in hospitalisations in certain countries affected by the variant, “but we haven’t yet seen an increase in mortality”.
According to the WHO expert, there is some data that suggest that people vaccinated can get infected and transmit the variant, the likelihood is much reduced after the second dose has been administered and reached full effectiveness.
She also clarified that Delta was not specifically targeting children as some reports had suggested, but warned that as long as the variants were circulating, they would infect anybody that was not taking proper precautions.
“Its in the virus’s interests to evolve, viruses are not alive they don’t have a brain to think through this, but they become more fit the more they circulate, so the virus will likely become even more transmissible because this is what viruses do, they evolve they change overtime.
“We have to do what we can to drive it down”, she added, reminding that public health and social measures do work against the Delta variant, and that the vaccines do prevent disease and death.”
Dr Michael Ryan, the Executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies, said that even with the virus getting “faster and fitter” the game plan does not change, but it needs to be implemented more efficiently.
“Delta is a warning that this virus is evolving, but it is also a call to action before more dangerous variants emerge,” he said. (NAN)
Shaibu Relocates Office Out Of Edo Govt House
The Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shuaibu has commenced the relocation of his office to an area outside the vicinity of the Government House.
The development follows last of Shuaibu’s suit filed at the Federal High Court to stop alleged plots by week’s withdrawal the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, to remove him from office.
The new office is situated at No. 7, Dennis Osadebey Avenue, close to the Government House.
Sources close to the deputy governor said that a letter was sent by the Head of Service to the Permanent Secretary, Office of the Deputy Governor instructing her to supervise the movement of civil servants and files to the new office.
It was also gathered that the new office is not habitable as there is no electricity, is waterlogged, and the office spaces are significantly small.
The state government had however insisted that the deputy governor’s new office is within the confines of the area designated as the Government House.
NARD SET TO CALL OF STRIKE AFTER SENATE’S INTERVENTION
••• Cancels Planned National Protest
Striking members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) are set to call off their two week old strike after a closed door meeting with Principal Officers of the Senate on Tuesday.
Adressing the media shortly after the closed door meeting with President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio and other Principal Officers of the Senate, National President of the association, Dr Emeka Innocent Orji, stated “we had a very fruitful meeting with the Senate led by the President of the Senate and from our discussions with them, we are very hopeful that when we table our discussions today before the NEC, something positive would come out.
“From our interaction with the President of the Senate and the practical demonstration he did before us today, we are very confident that there would be light at the end of the tunnel in the next 24 hours.
“Because of the intervention of the President of the Senate, who is the number three citizen and the assurance he has given us, our planned national protest has been cancelled while the decision on the ongoing strike would be taken as soon we meet, he assured.
Speaking in the same vein, Senator Akpabio, thanked the medical doctors for honoring the Senate by calling off their planned national protest and also working towards calling off the strike.
According to him, ” I thank you onbehalf of the Senate for honoring us with your decision not only to cancel the planned public protest, but to also call off the strike in the interest of the suffering masses.
“Your demands are well noted and let me assure you that as soon as a Minister in charge of Health is appointed, the Senate will work with him or her to expeditiously adress all your grievances. The President Bola Tinubu-led administration is Doctors friendly and that explains the large number of medical practitioners he has appointed into his cabinet.
“Strike by medical practitioners should not be allowed even for a day because of the impacts it creates in the polity and that is why the Senate is determined to ensure through interactions and consultation with relevant offices, amicable settlement of the impasse is reached,” he stated.
President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio (3rd from left), Dr Emeka Innocent Orji (middle) Senate Leader, Michael Opeyemi Bamidele and Senator Ireti Kingibe (first from right)after a meeting with national officers of NARD in the office the President of the Senate on Tuesday.
Nigerian-Made Noodles Safe To Eat, Says NAFDAC
The agency re-assured the public that it is proactive and committed to protecting the health of the public.
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has certified noodles manufactured in Nigeria, saying they are safe for consumption.
The confirmation followed the Agency’s investigation into the presence of ethylene oxide or its metabolite in noodles or their seasonings.
This was made known by the Director General of NAFDAC, Prof Moji Adeyeye, during a press briefing in Lagos on Thursday.
She noted that ethylene oxide or its derivative was not found in any of the instant noodles produced in Nigeria and their seasonings which make them safe for consumption.
The NAFDAC boss also declared that the level of mycotoxin and the heavy metals were within the internationally acceptable limit.
“Therefore, the noodles made in Nigeria are very safe to eat,” she stated.
Giving account of how the sampling of the noodles was conducted, she said, “Samples of chicken flavoured instant noodles of various brands (and the seasonings) were drawn from the production facilities across the country.
“This was to ensure that the investigation was robust, covering other instant noodles brands manufactured in Nigeria, besides Indomie, the implicated brand.
“The Post Marketing Surveillance Division also visited markets/retail outlets in the major cities of Lagos, Abuja, and Kano and drew samples of instant noodles for laboratory analysis.
“The market visits served as surveillance for the presence of the Taiwan and Malaysian special chicken noodles in the Nigerian market.
“The samples drawn from production facilities and trade were properly packaged and delivered in good condition to our Central Laboratory, Oshodi, Lagos, where analytical activities commenced immediately in accordance with international standards and methods of analysis.”
For the sampling, a total of 114 samples of instant noodles and the seasonings were received, the NAFDAC DG stated.
The agency re-assured the public that it is proactive and committed to protecting the health of the public.
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