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Ebola Kills Three in Guinea



Health authorities in Guinea have declared an outbreak of Ebola after seven people were confirmed to be infected with the disease at the weekend.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Office for Africa, three out of the seven infected have died.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, in a statement on Monday, said this is the first time the disease has been reported in the country since the deadly 2014-2016 outbreak in West Africa, which claimed over 11,000 lives.

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Moeti noted that it is a huge concern to see the resurgence of Ebola in Guinea, a country that has already suffered so much from the disease,”

Banking on the expertise and experience built during the previous outbreak, health teams in Guinea are on the move to quickly trace the path of the virus and curb further infections.

According to the UN health agency, the cases, which were confirmed by the national laboratory, occurred in Gouéké in N’Zerekore prefecture, in Southern Guinea.

Initial investigations found that a nurse from a local health facility died on January the 28th.

Following her burial, six people who attended the funeral reported Ebola-like symptoms and two of them have died. The other four are currently in hospital.

Samples of the confirmed cases have been sent to the InstitutPasteur Centre in Senegal for full genome sequencing, to identify the strain of the Ebola virus.

Guinea was one of the three most-affected countries in the 2014-2016 West Africa Ebola outbreak, which was the largest since the virus was first discovered in 1976.

The outbreak, which saw some 28,000 cases, including 11,000 deaths, started in Guinea and moved across land borders to Sierra Leone and Liberia.

According to the statement, WHO staff are already on the ground, assisting surveillance, and infection prevention and control efforts.

WHO personnel are also reaching out to communities to ensure they take a key role in the response.

The agency is also helping Guinea procure the Ebola vaccine which has proven instrumental in controlling outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

As the epicentre of the current outbreak in a border area, it stated that WHO was also working with health authorities in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

WHO is also reaching out to Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Senegal and other countries at risk in the region.

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a rare but severe, often fatal illness in humans. The average EVD case fatality rate is about 50 per cent, with rates having varied from 25 per cent to 90 per cent in past outbreaks.

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Zambia to Recruit 395 Health Workers for COVID-19 Fight



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



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



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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