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More than 600 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Africa

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More than 600 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in 34 countries in Africa as of 19 March, compared with 147 cases one week ago. Although the region has seen a significant increase in confirmed cases recently, there are still fewer cases than in other parts of the world.

“The rapid evolution of COVID-19 in Africa is deeply worrisome and a clear signal for action,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa. “But we can still change the course of this pandemic. Governments must draw on all of their resources and capabilities and strengthen their response.”

Twelve countries in the African region are now experiencing local transmission. It is crucial that governments prevent local transmission from evolving into a worst case scenario of widespread sustained community transmission. Such a scenario will present a major challenge to countries with weak health systems.

“Africa can learn from the experiences of other countries which have seen a sharp decline in COVID-19 cases through rapidly scaling up testing, isolating cases and meticulously tracking contacts,” said Dr Moeti.

Understanding how the COVID-19 pandemic will evolve in Africa is still a work in progress. The response will need to be adapted to the African context – the demographics on the continent are very different from China, Europe and the USA. Africa has the world’s youngest population and it appears that older people are more vulnerable to COVID-19. However, preliminary analysis finds that people with underlying conditions are at higher risk. Across the Region, nearly 26 million people are living with HIV. Over 58 million children have stunted growth due to malnutrition. So it is possible that younger people will be more at risk in Africa than in other parts of the world.

WHO has been supporting governments with early detection by providing COVID-19 testing kits to countries in Africa, training lab technicians, and strengthening surveillance in communities. Forty-five countries in Africa can now test for COVID-19: at the start of the outbreak only two could do so. WHO is also providing remote support to affected countries on the use of electronic data tools, so national health authorities can better understand the outbreak in their countries. Personal protective equipment has been shipped to 24 countries, and a second shipment is being prepared for countries with confirmed cases.

“COVID-19 is one of the biggest health challenges Africa has faced in a generation,” said Dr Moeti. “We can only stop this virus through solidarity. And the world is coming together. Donors are stepping up to the plate and providing funding while private sector in many countries are offering their support as well.”

Lessons learnt in addressing previous epidemics are being used as a foundation to respond.

Basic preventative measures by individuals and communities remain the most powerful tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  For this reason, WHO is helping local authorities craft radio messaging and TV spots to inform the public about the risks of COVID-19 and what measures should be taken.  WHO is also conducting rumour management in all affected countries, and is guiding countries on setting up call-centres and hotlines to ensure the public is informed.

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COVID-19: Nigeria Records 1Million Test

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REMARKS BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE PRESIDENTIAL TASK FORCE ON COVID-19 FOR THURSDAY, 7th JANUARY, 2021
I welcome you all to the National Briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 for today, Thursday, 7th January, 2021.
2. The PTF is very concerned about the increasing daily numbers that we are recording. Yesterday 6th January, 2021, we recorded 1,664 infections. This is yet another all-time high in Nigeria and we must all take full responsibility through compliance and vigilance.
It is better to wear a face mask than being on a ventilator.
3. In our previous briefings, we have consistently appealed to all Nigerians to stay safe and act in most defensive and protective ways by complying with the NPIs already prescribed. We urge you all, at this point, to raise and be our brother’s keeper by taking the expected responsibility. Remind your neighbor to do the right thing in view of the imminent danger facing us as a country and the world in general.
4. Our records show that our test per million (TPM) is at 4,695 while our test positivity rate (TPR) is at 9.6% and our Case Fatality Rate has increased to 3% haven recorded 1,324 deaths, these data are not encouraging. Nigeria just crossed the 1million mark for testing across the federation. Testing remains a key strategy of our National Response
5.
The PTF urges the Sub-Nationals to revamp testing and contact tracing in the bid to curb the menace of this dreaded virus. It is only through testing that we can know our status and treat early if infected. This will provide among other things, evidence for effective feedback, course correction, experience learning and sharing, as well as optimize documentation systems for future reference.
6. Efforts are being made to increase the supply of oxygens to our health facilities across the country. Mr. President has approved the establishment of at least one new Oxygen plants in each state of the Federation, while the existing ones will be made fully functional.
We continue to thanks the Private Sector initiative as well as the Nigerian Air Force for their continued support.
7. As the Government is working round the clock to secure a safe and right vaccines for the Country, we call on the Media, Traditional and Religious as well as our community leaders to pass the right message to their followers so that together, we can win this war against this virus.
8. To overcome some of these challenges, the PTF will intensify the risk communication and community engagement to create awareness. The share level of doubts about the virus is alarming and I call on every one to become advocates in support of the National Response.
9. The PTF is working to develop new Health Protection Regulations to support existing COVID-19 protocols and to strengthen compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions across the country.
10. It has become embarrassing to note that some Nigerians continue to present fake results when travelling outside the shores of this country. This remains a major source of concern to the Federal Government. The PTF has directed private laboratories to immediately put in place measures to validate results and ensure that all passengers are registered on the travel portal before samples are processed to stop this activity. The National Coordinator will elaborate on this during this briefing.
11. The PTF is aware that the world is at a critical phase of infections. We are constantly reviewing our strategy to emerging situations especially in risk communication, vaccine hesitancy, fake news/disinformation.
12. We call on the general public to remain focused on the drive to reduce the level of infection and make our Country safe again. We urge the Sub-Nationals to enforce relevant measures that will help to curb the effect of this virus on our lives and livelihood. …………………..
PRESS BRIEFING BY THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE HON. MINISTER OF STATE FOR HEALTH, DR. (SENATOR) OLORUNNIMBE MAMORA AT THE PRESIDENTIAL TASK ON COVID -19 PRESS BRIEFING ON THURSDAY 7TH JANUARY, 2021. PROTOCOL As of yesterday 6th January, 2021 New cases recorded were 1,354 with 1 death recorded unfortunately. Total number of cases tested is 1,004,915. Number of confirmed cases is 94,369. Active cases stand at 15,764. Discharged cases till date are 77,299. Number of deaths till date is 1,324 with case fatality rate of 1.4% 2. The Federal Government is determined to ensure morbidity due to covid -19 is reduced to the barest minimum while improving on the fatality rate. Appropriate measures are being taken to achieve these objectives. 3. A second phase assessment of our isolation/treatment centres country-wide to verify challenges is to be carried out immediately. This is to enable us provide appropriate intervention measures required to strengthen these centres. 4. We are not unmindful of our obligations to our health workers particularly those in the frontline. We appreciate them and urge Nigerians to encourage them in this challenging pandemic situation so that they can continue to give their best. 5. We are working very hard to get vaccines for our people. It may not come soon enough, therefore we need to be alive to get the vaccines when they come. I have brought this up to under score the importance of compliance with non-pharmaceutical measures as advised to reduce transmissibility of the virus. 6. We continue to appeal to States to increase testing and contact tracing. The cooperation of the States with the Federal authorities is critical to our collective objective of defeating COVID-19.

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UNICEF, WHO rally support for breastfeeding

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the  World Health Organisation (WHO) say that they are rallying supports for breastfeeding as the first pathway to preserving a  healthier planet.

The Nutritional Officer of  UNICEF in Ebonyi, Mr Cyprain Ogbonna,  gave the encouragement to people on Saturday in Abakaliki during an event to mark the starting of the  2020 celebration of World Breastfeeding week.

The theme of the World Breastfeeding Week 2020 is “Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet”.

The event is marked every year between Aug. 1 and  Aug. 7 to raise awareness on the importance of breastfeeding for mothers and infants.

Ogbonna said that adequate breastfeeding had, over the years , prevented several childhood diseases and brought  lifelong positive benefits associated with child spacing.

He said  that other benefits include: risk reduction for some breast and ovarian cancers as well as hypertension.

He described breast milk as a nature-given-first food that needed to be preserved for its undebatable benefits to a mother and her baby.

He added that the milk was a critical part of a sustainable food system.

He said that it would be best to start breastfeeding within one hour of birth and exclusively done for the  first six months of life, after which mothers should introduce  appropriate complementary foods to her baby for  two years and beyond.

He  stated that misuse of breast milk substitutes should be condemned.

He advised that breastfeeding should be maintained, but hygienically done during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Ogbonna said: “Mothers are recommended to breastfeed their child or children within 30 minutes of birth.

“While mothers doing exclusive breastfeeds go for the first six months of life.

“Also mother or caregiver timely introduces complementary feeding based on local food products at six months while continuing breastfeeding up to two years and beyond,” he said.

Also, the Nutrition Manager of UNICEF in Enugu, Hanifa Namusoke, said that she had championed the cause in Ebonyi to increase the valve and improve the well being of mother and child.

Namusoke said in line with the theme, WHO and UNICEF called on governments to protect and promote a critical component of breastfeeding support.

“Breast milk is complete for a healthier planet and that is why WHO and UNICEF recommend optimal infant and young child feeding practices with emphasis on early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth,” Namusoke said.

NAN

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Covid-19: FCT Minister tasks health professionals on synergy

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The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, on Friday enjoined all health professionals to collaborate with each other to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bello gave the advice when a delegation from the FCT Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) paid a courtesy call on him in Abuja.

He noted that the successes recorded in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic was largely due to the synergy between the various health professionals in the FCT.

Bello, therefore, urged them to continue to function as a unified team in the fight against COVID-19.

The minister commended the good works of all the health workers in the FCT especially for their efforts at combating the Coronavirus disease.

He pledged that the FCT Administration would continue to partner with the PSN as a large number of its members are staff of the FCTA who are also involved in the fight against the COVID-19.

Bello urged the PSN to forge a robust relationship with the National Drug Law enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in order to reduce the menace of drug abuse among residents of the territory.

Earlier, Chairman of the FCT PSN, Mr Jelili Kilani, commended the FCTA for the support it has always rendered to the association.

Kilani emphasised the need for greater collaboration between the PSN and the FCTA.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the PSN used the visit to donates Personal Protective Equipments, First Aid materials and hand hygiene products to the FCTA.

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