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Algeria To Begin Free Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccines In January

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Algeria’s health agency has said the north African country will begin the distribution of a vaccine against coronavirus (COVID-19) in “a month’s time”.

Prof Kamel Sanhadji, president of the National Agency for Health Security, in a radio broadcast, said the coronavirus vaccine will be rolled out free for all Algerians.

He added that the usage of the vaccine will not be made compulsory.

“These days we are studying all vaccines scientifically, and if approved, we will start the vaccination operations a month from now in batches,” Senhadji said.

It is not known which vaccine Algeria has opted for, but Prof Sanhadji said his country would not acquire a vaccine unless the World Health Organization approves its effectiveness and quality.

Prof Sanhadji pointed out that Algeria has “the means and capacity to acquire all vaccines including those that require lower temperature storage”.

The official pointed out that in the next few days they will reveal the vaccine that Algeria will acquire.

He added that international flights from and to the country “would not resume until the vaccination had started”.

A health passport will then be required for all passengers to prove they have taken the vaccine.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Abdel Rahman Ben Bouzid told Algerian Radio that his country had begun negotiations with several international labs which announced the production of vaccines for the coronavirus.

As of Thursday, Algeria recorded 85,927 coronavirus cases, including 2,480 deaths and 55,538 recoveries.

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Desmond Tutu Pleads with South Africans to Accept COVID-19 Vaccine

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Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town and Nobel Peace Laureate, Desmond Tutu, has urged South Africans not to fear being vaccinated against Covid-19 as the country prepares to carry out mass vaccination.

The veteran anti-apartheid activist and peace campaigner pledged to be immunised once a vaccine becomes available to him.

In a statement issued by the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, Tutu, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, said it was vital that people took the vaccine.

“Covid-19 has wreaked havoc. It has destroyed lives and livelihoods and has robbed us of the comfort of family and friends, but we can stop it. We have vaccines. I join many other world leaders in pledging to have a vaccine against Covid-19 as soon as one becomes available to me.

“Vaccines have eradicated terrible diseases such as smallpox, and we are close to using them to make others, such as polio and measles, history. Yet many people are scared or wary of this simple, safe and effective way of protecting people against infectious diseases before they even come into contact with them. There is nothing to fear,” he said.

A poll conducted last year at the outbreak of the pandemic found 21% of South Africans were strongly opposed to Covid-19 vaccination.

The government has procured 1.5 million vaccine doses for January and February, with an additional 20 million doses in June.

The country has seen a surge in cases since a new variant was identified in the country in November.

Tutu, who suffered from Tuberculosis as a teenager in 1945, said he lost two years of his life to the disease.

“I am pledging to have a Covid-19 vaccine, because I already know what it is to lose years of your life to a disease. I also know what it is to worry that I have passed a preventable disease on to people I love. I ask you to do the same.

“Don’t let Covid-19 continue to ravage our country or our world. Vaccinate,” he pleaded.

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Nigeria Announces 14 Additional COVID-19 Deaths, Toll Now 1,449

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No fewer than 14 people died from coronavirus (COVID-19) disease as of Monday night, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said.

According to the health agency, the country recorded 1,617 new cases of the virus.

It added that the total number of infections and deaths in the country are 112,004 and 1,449 respectively.

The NCDC disclosed this on its official website on Monday.

Nigeria has so far tested 1,172,234 people since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was recorded on Feb. 27, 2020 in the country.

The public health institute also reported an additional 14 deaths, bringing the total number of casualties from the virus to 1,449.

It said that till date, the country had recorded 112,004 COVID-19 infections with 89,939 cases successfully treated and discharged in the country.

The NCDC said that the 1,617 new cases were reported from 17 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the last 24 hours.

The agency said that almost 50 per cent of the new cases recorded on Monday were from Lagos, with 776 infections.

Other states with new cases were Kaduna-147, Kwara-131, FCT-102, Plateau-78, Edo-59, Ogun-53, Osun-45, Rivers-37, Taraba-36 Nasarawa-34, Adamawa-33, Kano-26, Delta-20, Ebonyi-16, Bayelsa-11, Gombe-11, and Borno-2.

NCDC said that 622 more patients were discharged after testing negative to coronavirus across the country in the last 24 hours.

The health agency said that those discharged included 289 community recoveries in Lagos State managed in line with the extant guidelines.

It said that a multi-sectoral national Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), activated at Level 3, was coordinating response activities nationwide.

Nigeria has witnessed a surge in new cases since the Federal Government announced a second wave of the pandemic in December 2020.

The snapshot of the country as at Jan. 17, was Cases: 110,387, Active Cases: 22,156 20.34 per cent, Discharged: 89,317 78.36 per cent, Fatalities: 1,435 1.30 per cent and Tests: 1,172,234, all spread across the 36 States and the FCT.

In week two of 2021, the statistics revealed the following:Cases: 10,300, Deaths: 77 and Active Cases 19,635.

All these numbers represented increases compared with the numbers from week one, 2021.

Also one in every five people tested in the country within the passing week turned out positive.

In spite of the surge, schools reopened in most states across the country under the Federal Government’s directive,

While critics have faulted the re-opening, the government says return to the classrooms should be done in line with COVID-19 regulations such as social distancing and wearing of face-masks.

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Bread Crisis: Libya’s Central Bank Rejects New Letters of Credit for Flour

Governor of the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) Al-Siddiq Al-Kabeer emphasised that the letters of credit, which were opened in 2020 for the supply of flour, were appropriate for the amounts consumed in Libya.

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In response to the Head of Presidential Council, Fayez Al-Sarraj’s regarding requests for new letters of credit to import flour, the Governor of the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) Al-Siddiq Al-Kabeer has on Sunday issued a statement.

Al-Kabeer emphasised that the letters of credit, which were opened in 2020 for the supply of flour, were appropriate for the amounts consumed in Libya.

The General Union of Bakers in Tripoli shut down all bakeries in the city on Saturday, citing an increase in the price of ingredients. This move was justified by the union’s head, Saeed Boukhreiss who claimed the new prices were necessary due to the new prices of flour being linked to lack of supply by the mills’ company.  

The Governor explained that the PM’s call represents a grave breach of the country’s financial law and public spending controls, stipulated in the 2015 Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). He further stated that the state’s balance of foreign exchange with the Libyan Foreign Bank (LFB) is linked to sovereign revenues.

Al-Kabeer also countered rumours suggesting that it had opened letters of credits for importing unnecessary food items.

He further reminds the GNA officials on their obligation to control the country’s borders and ports to curb the smuggling of subsidised goods, especially flour and fuel.

Bakeries reopened Monday after the Bakers’ Union reached an agreement with the control authorities. Bread prices have been impacted largely by flour shortage, the prices of wheat which increased globally by 40% and the new exchange rate of the Libyan dinar to U.S. dollar on the confectionary sector. Bakeries may face dire straits in the coming months if state authorities do not resolve the problem satisfactorily.

In 2018, inflationary pressure and dwindling oil prices among other factors saw bakeries in Tripoli abruptly shut for two weeks, thereby triggering a food crisis around bread – a staple for many Libyans.

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