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COVID-19: Personal Protective Equipment Before Treatment, Callous….Dr. Mamora

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The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, while responding to questions from media representatives at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Press briefing held on 1st of May, 2020 has declared that if there is any truth in the claims that some health care facilities are demanding that patients should bring Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) before they can be treated, as “callous, illegal, unacceptable and condemnable.” Dr. Mamora said if the claim is found to be true, “We will pursue remedial measures for the patient.”

The Honourable Minister of State who blew hot against the claimed practice that some health care facilities are insisting that patients who are reporting for COVID-19 treatment must bring Personal Protection Equipment before they could access treatment, appealed to Nigerians to assist to furnish the Presidential Task Force and Federal Ministry of Health with exact culprits, “to enable us deal with them.”

“If it is taking place in our Federal Government Hospitals or in our Tertiary Hospitals or States Hospitals, wherever, we will take appropriate action”, Dr. Mamora emphatically declared. On the Medical Fact Finding Team despatched to Kano State at height of the unexplained deaths in the State, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora declared that Federal Ministry of Health has an interim report. “We have an interim report. It was to enable us know the level of engagement with Kano State Government and the State’s COVID-19 Response Team.”

The Honourable Minister of State for Health also said the interim report got on Kano, will help the Federal Ministry of Health and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to determine the level of engagement that should be in place with non-State actors – Faith based organizations, Civil Society Organizations, etc, even beyond COVID-19″. On what is being done with the interim report on Kano, Dr. Mamora disclosed that “We have assembled enough resources – human health resources and others to help Kano.

Laboratories which were hitherto shut down have been reopened. Even what you called verbal autopsy has been carried out, we have begun to strengthen all facilities on ground – testing kits, plans and equipment for isolation centres, PPE, ambulances, have been despatched to Kano.”

The Honourable Minister of State for Health further disclosed that the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 would have been to Kano but for the demise of the father of the National Coordinator of the Interventionist body.

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Africa records 30% increase in COVID-19 cases– WHO

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By Cecilia Ologunagba

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says there has been 30 per cent increase in the number of confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the African Region in the past week.

WHO Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, Congo, disclosed this in COVID-19 Situation Report posted on its official Twitter account @WHOAFRO on Thursday.

In external situation report number 19 issued on July 8, it stated that COVID-19 outbreak continued to grow in the WHO African Region.

It said the virus continued to grow since it was first detected in Algeria on 25 February, 2020.

“Since our last External Situation Report 18 issued on 1 July, 2020, a total of 91, 038 new confirmed COVID-19 cases (a 30 per cent increase) was reported from 45 countries.

“Of the 91, 038 reported new cases in the region, the majority 71 per cent (64, 646) were recorded in South Africa.

“South Africa remains the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak in the region and the country is now among the top 15 most affected countries globally.

“South Africa has the cumulative number of cases (215, 855) exceeding that for Turkey (206, 844), Germany (196, 944) and France (159, 568), which previously reported the highest numbers.

“On 4 July 2020, the WHO African Region and South Africa recorded their highest daily case count of 13, 474 and 10 853, respectively.’’

Similarly, it said the WHO African Region and South Africa registered the highest daily death toll of 225 and 192, respectively, on 7 July 2020.

“During this period, five countries in the region observed the highest percentage increase in incidence cases.

“Lesotho recorded 237 per cent increase (from 27 to 91 cases), Namibia 166 per cent (from 203 to 539 cases) and Madagascar 57 per cent (from 2, 214 to 3, 472 cases).

“Also, Malawi recorded 48 per cent increased (from 1,265 to 1, 877 cases) and South Africa 43 per cent (from 151, 209 to 215, 855 cases).

“Equatorial Guinea and United Republic of Tanzania did not officially submit reports indicating any confirmed case.

“A total of 119 new health worker infections were recorded from three countries: Ghana (70), Malawi (38), South Sudan (7), Sierra Leone (2), Gambia (1) and Lesotho (1).

“Two countries: Gambia and Lesotho reported their first health worker infection this reporting period,’’ it stated.

In addition, it stated that from 1 to 7 July, 2020, 1, 221 new COVID-19 related deaths (20 per cent increase) were registered in 33 countries, with 845 (69 per cent) of the deaths recorded in South Africa

This was followed by Nigeria, with 79 (6.5 per cent) deaths and then Algeria with 56 (4.6 per cent) deaths.

The report further stated that currently, 33 (70 per cent) countries in the region were experiencing community transmission, seven (15 per cent) have clusters of cases and seven (15 per cent) have sporadic cases of COVID-19.

It stated that the region had also observed increased incidence of importation of cases from affected countries within the region, largely fueled by long-distance truck drivers and illicit movement through porous borders.

(NAN)

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Coronavirus – Africa: WHO calls for equitable access to future COVID-19 vaccines in Africa

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The World Health Organization (WHO) in Africa (www.Afro.WHO.int) joined immunization experts in urging the international community and countries in Africa to take concrete actions to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, as researchers around the world race to find effective protection against the virus.

“It is clear that as the international community comes together to develop safe and effective vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19, equity must be a central focus of these efforts,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Too often, African countries end up at the back of the queue for new technologies, including vaccines. These life-saving products must be available to everyone, not only those who can afford to pay.”

WHO and partners launched the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator to speed up the development, production and equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. It brings together leaders of government, global health organizations civil society groups, businesses and philanthropies to form a plan for an equitable response to the COVID-19 pandemic. WHO is collaborating with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to ensure a fair allocation of vaccines to all countries, aiming to deliver 2 billion doses globally for high-risk populations, including 1 billion for low and middle-income countries.

The African Union has endorsed the need for Africa to develop a framework to actively engage in the development and access to COVID-19 vaccines. Countries can take steps now that will strengthen health systems, improve immunization delivery, and pave the way for the introduction of a COVID-19 vaccine. These include: mobilizing financial resources; strengthening local vaccine manufacturing, and regulatory, supply and distribution systems; building workforce skills and knowledge; enhancing outreach services; and listening to community concerns to counter misinformation.

Globally, there are nearly 150 COVID-19 vaccine candidates and currently 19 are in clinical trials. South Africa is the first country on the continent to start a clinical trial with the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg testing a vaccine developed by the Oxford Jenner Institute in the United Kingdom. The South African Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial is expected to involve 2000 volunteers aged 18–65 years and include some people living with HIV. The vaccine is already undergoing trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil with thousands of participants.

According to the African Academy of Sciences only 2% of clinical trials conducted worldwide occur in Africa. It is important to test the COVID-19 vaccine in countries where it is needed to ensure that it will be effective. With more than 215 000 cases, South Africa accounts for 43% of the continent’s total cases. Clinical trials must be performed according to international and national scientific and ethical standards, which include informed consent for any participant.

“I encourage more countries in the region to join these trials so that the contexts and immune response of populations in Africa are factored in to studies,” said Dr Moeti. “Africa has the scientific expertise to contribute widely to the search for an effective COVID-19 vaccine. Indeed, our researchers have helped develop vaccines which provide protection against communicable diseases such as meningitis, Ebola, yellow fever and a number of other common health threats in the region.”

Earlier, this month WHO Africa’s principle advisory group on immunization policies and programmes – the African Regional Immunization Technical Advisory Group (RITAG) – also noted the need to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 and other vaccines in the region.

“As the world focuses on finding a vaccine for COVID-19, we must ensure people do not forget that dozens of lifesaving vaccines already exist. These vaccines should reach children everywhere in Africa – no one can be left behind,” said Professor Helen Rees, Chair of the RITAG.

Initial analysis of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on immunization in the African Region suggests that millions of African children are likely to be negatively impacted, as routine immunization services and vaccination campaigns for polio, cholera, measles, yellow fever, meningitis and human papilloma virus have been disrupted.

Despite these challenges, RITAG members also noted significant milestones and markers of progress. For example, there have been tremendous gains in the fight against wild poliovirus, and the African Region is expected to be officially certified free of wild poliovirus in August 2020. The Democratic Republic of the Congo also announced the end of its 10th Ebola outbreak in eastern DRC, which was the worst in its history. An effective vaccine was a key tool in the response.

Dr Moeti spoke about COVID-19 vaccine development in Africa during a virtual press conference today organized by APO Group. She was joined by Professor Shabir Madhi, University of Witwatersrand, Principal Investigator of Oxford Covid-19 Vaccine Trial in South Africa; and Professor Pontiano Kaleebu, Director of the MCR/UVRI and LSHTM Ugandan Research Unit. The briefing was streamed on more than 300 African news sites as well as the WHO Regional Office for Africa’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.

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Coronavirus – South Africa: StatsSA releases Coronavirus COVID-19 behavioural and health perception survey results

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Respondents were staying indoors and only left their houses to get food or medicine, according to the COVID-19 behavioural and health perception survey results released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA).

The survey was conducted in the week of 13 to 26 April 2020.

More than half (60,1%) of respondents were very concerned or extremely concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on their own health. Many of the respondents (93,2%) were very concerned or extremely concerned about the possible economic collapse of the country due to the COVID-19 epidemic, while 79,7% were concerned about the civil disorder that may result as a consequence of the COVID-19 virus.

The report further shows that respondents adhered to the call not to go out to public meetings, with almost all (99,0%) reporting not attending any public events, e.g. church services. Furthermore, the practice of social distancing when going out was a priority for 98,4% of the respondents. Regular handwashing when going out (97,7%) and upon returning after one went out (98,0%) was also important practices to most respondents.

Furthermore, (96,8%) of respondents indicated that they did not get tested since they were of the opinion that they did not have COVID-19. Of those respondents who suspected that they might have been infected by COVID-19, three-quarters (75,8%) did not get tested either. 7,8% said they did not know where to get tested, whilst 6,8% indicated that they either did not have money to get tested; or did not have transport or money for transport (1,4%) to get to the testing facility.

The findings shows that knowledge about the main signs and symptoms of the COVID-19 virus is almost universal, and knowledge about the two main means of transmission of the COVID-19 virus is also high.

The majority of respondents (93,7%) indicated that they or their household members did not need to access health care, while 4,5% responded that they or a household member needed to access health care but had been unable to do so. Those who wanted to but could not access health care, indicated that they could not do so because they were scared of contracting the COVID-19 virus (54,1%), and 25,5% were scared that they might get arrested or fined for being outside their houses.

14,3% of respondents had a chronic condition. Of these, 7,8% of respondents indicated that they were not able to access their chronic medication. The largest share of this group (45%) indicated that they were scared they would be infected. An additional 37,5% were scared to leave the house because they feared being arrested and/or fined. Approximately one-fifth (17,5%) said that they did not have money to get to the pharmacy, clinic or health facility where they could obtain medicines

64,3% of respondents obtained information on COVID-19 using news outlets. Social media (including Facebook, Instagram and others) was the second most frequently used means of obtaining information on both current public health measures as well as COVID-19 (14,1% and 16,0%, respectively).

According to the findings on self-reported employment, two-thirds (69,1%) of respondents had a full-time job (receiving a monthly salary); 11,6% of respondents were self-employed, whilst 8,1% were unemployed

By far, most respondents (94,2%) were living in formal dwellings: either a free-standing house, townhouse or a cluster house (81,6%), or in a flat or apartment in a block of flats (12,6%). Less than one per cent (0,9%) lived in an informal dwelling.

 

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