Coronavirus

Federal Govt Give N8.5b to boost COVID-19 tests

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  • NLC seeks funding for education, health sectors
  • Rusia to produce 5m vaccine doses monthly

Nigeria is to spend N8.49 billion on COVID-19 testing.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the money at Wednesday’s meeting for the purchase of 12 assorted items by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

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But the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said  on Wednesday that the country needs “more investments in education and health. Our people need to be healthy for them to be productive. If we don’t do this, then certainly all the 17 goals of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be difficult to achieve.”

President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said the COVID-19 pandemic had exposed the challenges in Nigeria’s education and health sectors.

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He spoke at the investiture/award for the President, Medical an Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), Josiah Biobelemoye by the Ethics Resource Centre, Abuja.

He said: “COVID-19 has exposed the challenges in the two critical sectors of our economy and those sectors actually shape development everywhere around the world – health and education sectors.

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Minister of Health Dr Osagie Ehanire, told reporters after FEC meeting that the cash will help the country address community transmission of the pandemic, which has affected 586 Local Government Areas.

“The Ministry of Health presented a memo on behalf of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to procure materials for preparation for the COVID-19 pandemic, which is ravaging every part of the world including our country.

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“This is part of the preparedness for community transmission which is going on now and has affected over 586 Local Government Areas and we need the materials so as to be able to expand our testing and diagnostic capabilities.

“This memo is as a result of the Presidential task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and the Special Intervention Funds managed by the PTF, which allocated these resources for the NCDC preparedness,” he said.

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The Health Minister said the materials to be procured include sample and other kits for diagnostics, for use by laboratories.

“We are procuring these materials to be able to respond properly to community transmission phase,” he added.

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On why the PTF was reluctant in introducing rapid test kits which make results available In minutes as against PCR (Polymerise Chain Reaction) tests, Ehanire said: “It is not that nobody is thinking of rapid diagnostic test, it is being used all over the world even in Nigeria today but the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other experts, have said that this test is not very reliable and that it also delivers a significant number of false positive or false negative results.

“So, if you go to a place where a percentage of test result can give you a wrong result, then you have to be careful. Whereas the PRC test, that is the polymerise chain reaction test is accurate and reliable. So if you want to know how accurate a person is positive, that is the test you ought to do, that is the recommendation of World Health Organisation.

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“Now, science is never certain, there are many ways and avenues by which the quality of the rapid test is still being improved. And as I speak to you now, the Medical Laboratory Science of Nigeria, which is responsible for validating this test, for telling us whether they are reliable or not, whether we should use it or not, they are verifying such test now and they will give us their result, whether it is reliable enough or not reliable enough.

On the disregard for COVID-19 protocols at the All Progressives Congress campaign in Edo State and the funeral rites of Senator Buruji Kashamu, the health minister said “there is something the laws says, the law says you must hold an election at a certain time and then watch what the needs of health has brought forward.

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“Nobody was anticipating that COVID-19 will pop up and the dilemma where INEC and the ministry of health face are not peculiar to Nigeria, there are many other countries that are facing that kind of problem.

“Just a few days ago, Belarus held a presidential election because their constitution gives them a deadline within which it must be held. Other countries have held elections, some have deferred elections, depending on how each country assesses its own risk. And in Nigeria where the case infection rate is relatively low compared to other countries which are about two percent, globally is nearly four percent and then the weight of distribution of the cases is not even.

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Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) have expressed sadness over the death of the Chairman of Onigbongbo Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Babatunde Oke.

Sanwo-Olu in a condolence message by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, said Oke’s demise was a big loss to the state.

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Oke, a second term chairman of Onigbongbo LCDA, died in the early hours of yesterday.

The governor described him as a fine gentleman; a loyal party man and a committed democrat, who had a deep understanding of local government administration and political landscape.”

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ALGON President, Kolade Alabi, said Oke’s invaluable contributions to the national development would be missed.

CONFERENCE 57 Chairman, Mrs. Omolola Essien, also described the late Oke as one of the most experienced council bosses in the state.

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”He was kind-hearted, intelligent, and industrious. He will be sadly be missed in the Conference 57 house,” Essien said.

Russia may be able to produce five million doses of its new COVID-19 vaccine monthly by December, the Director of the Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, Alexander Gintsburg, said on Wednesday.

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“We expect them [manufacturers] to reach the target capacity by December or January. The target is about five million doses per month, and perhaps more,” Ginsburg said at a news conference.

Andrei Savenkov-Rossotrudnichestvo, a Russian state agency responsible for the promotion of humanitarian cooperation, is interested in showcasing Russia’s vaccine against COVID-19 to the foreign community, Yevgeny Primakov, the new head of the agency, said.

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The vaccine, named Sputnik V, was developed jointly by the Gamaleya Research Institute and the Russian Defence Ministry.

“This is one of the most important stories that we can export because we have surprised the world with a low death rate.

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“And thanks to our high-quality healthcare and the fact that we have vaccines, not even just one, is already our strong side.

“Let the various tests, licensing, certification, and approval end, and I would like through the Rossotrudnichestvo network, to present this vaccine to the world and show its effectiveness,” Primakov said.

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Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) CEO, Kirill Dmitriev, has said that Moscow has already received preliminary requests for one billion doses of its vaccine against COVID-19 from more than 20 countries.

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