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COVID-19: Nigeria Records 13 cases of B117 Variant

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Nigeria has recorded 13 cases of the B117 variant of COVID-19, authorities said on Monday.

Boss Mustapha, the Chairman of Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, at a briefing on COVID-19 in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, said that six of them were detected in the last one week.

All B117 cases came out of samples collected from November to January.

“The PTF, through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, is working with the Africa Centre for Disease Control on genomic surveillance,” he said.

The PTF has also reported that shortage of oxygen for case management is gradually being overcome.

The private sector’s Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) is supporting the provision of oxygen nationwide, and allocations have been made to states.”

Mustapha frowned at violation of COVID-19 prevention protocols.

He urged passengers arriving in Nigeria to ensure compliance with international travel protocols and observe non-pharmaceutical intervention measures.

Mustapha said: “The process for accessing vaccine and plans for getting it to the last mile is progressing.

“The PTF wishes to appeal to all Nigerians, particularly the media, to recognise that humanity is at war with an unseen enemy.

“Nations are also struggling to take positions to access the same commodity which is in obvious short supply.

“We must, therefore, play our critical complementary roles of educating the public on the benefits of the vaccines in overcoming the pandemic.”

He said that testing for COVID-19 was still being aggressively pursued as a viable strategy.

“The PTF shall continue to appeal to not just the citizens to get tested, but call on sub-national entities to ensure that capacities of laboratories established within their jurisdictions be fully maximised.

“This will help to reduce the burden on the National Reference Laboratory and the attendant lengthy turnaround time for test results,” he said.

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Zambia to Recruit 395 Health Workers for COVID-19 Fight

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Zambia’s Minister of Health, Jonas Chanda, has announced plans to recruit 395 health workers to lessen the burden on the workforce worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chanda confirmed that President Edgar Lungu had authorised the hiring of more health workers as part of the COVID-19 response.

“The epidemiology of the COVID-19 has contributed to an unprecedented increase in the demands on the healthcare workforce, and simultaneously
diminished health worker supply,” he said in a statement.

“The ministry has also employed the Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes platform to enhance the capacity of the current staff through
mentorship and case management”, said the official.

Chanda acknowledged that the country had seen reduced numbers of COVID-19 cases in the past one week, but warned against complacency.

According to him, more efforts need to be exerted in order to sustain the gains and prevent an anticipated third wave in the cold season.

Zambia recorded 555 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the cumulative cases to 79,557. The cases were picked from 6,266 tests done,
representing a nine per cent positivity.

During the same period, the country recorded six deaths, bringing the total deaths to 1,104, while 476 patients were discharged,
bringing the total recoveries to 75,563.

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Nigeria Receives First Batch Of COVID-19 Vaccines

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The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines from the World Health Organisation and GAVI’s COVAX facility has arrived Nigeria.

The vaccines were received at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory on Tuesday morning.

Nigeria has received 3.92million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the first batch and it is expected to be administered on health workers, people who work in the essential service areas and some other citizens.

The vaccines with the brand name COVIShield is made as a patent of AstraZeneca vaccine, by the Serum Institute of India.

Nigeria is West Africa’s worst-hit country with 156,017 cases and 1915 deaths recorded so far at a fatality rate of 1.22%, which is lower than the African average of more than 2.5% fatality.

COVAX vaccination programmes have already started in Ivory Coast and Ghana, with President Nana Akufo-Addo and his wife receiving the vaccines publicly on Monday in Accra.

The vaccination rollout and scheduling will be handled by the Nigerian Primary Healthcare board.

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Nigeria, Kenya Receive COVID-19 Vaccines on Tuesday

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Twenty-four African countries, including Nigeria and Kenya, will soon receive Covid-19 vaccines from the UN-backed Covax programme.

Nigeria, which expects to get a total of six million doses from COVAX, will receive 3.92m vaccine doses on Tuesday, becoming the third West-African country to benefit from the facility.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, who revealed this, at the weekend, said that barring any change in the delivery plan released by UNICEF, the vaccines will depart India on March 1, 2021 by 10.30 pm and arrive Abuja on March 2, 2021 at about 11.10 am.

He said, “We are making preparations for about 4 million doses of vaccines from the COVAX facility, We are supposed to have about 16 million in the first quarter.

“We are expecting 84 million doses from the COVAX facility which is free of charge and will cover about 20 per cent of the Nigerian population.

“We also have another source of vaccines from the Harvard facility, which is the African Vaccine Action Team. We are expecting about 41 million doses of AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

“Everything we are expecting from COVAX is AstraZeneca which has a good range in terms of storage because it uses +2 – +8 per cent of refrigeration. We already have cold chain facilities in all local governments, constituencies and wards in the country.

“I must caution Nigerians that it is going to be a combination of vaccines with non-pharmaceutical measures.

“Non-pharmaceutical measures will remain in place, wearing of masks, keeping of social distancing, the need for personal hygiene and taking responsibility to ensure that we do not congregate in large gatherings and avoid travels that are not necessary. ”

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Health, Mutahi Kagwe, said the country will get 1.25 million doses of the AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine on Tuesday and vaccinations are expected to start immediately.

Kagwe said priority will be given to front line health workers and the elderly.

Ivory Coast on Monday became the first country to roll out vaccines offered by Covax programme.

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