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Four Cases of South African COVID-19 Strain Discovered in Israel

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Israel on Saturday announced four cases of the highly contagious South African coronavirus (COVID-19) strain, the first in the country.

The mutated variant was discovered after an advanced testing program on a traveller who recently returned from South Africa and family members of another individual who had travelled from there, Israel’s Health Ministry said.

Israel had ordered all visitors from the United Kingdom and South Africa, where the new strains of the virus have been spreading, to enter state-run hotels for isolation. Their test samples are sent for advanced checks.

The Health Ministry emphasized that although the variant was more contagious, there was no evidence that it causes more severe illness.

However, the UK and South African variants are causing global concern.

Israel has 65,008 active cases, 920 of which are in serious condition. The country’s death toll is 3,596.

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Nigeria Records 1,301 New COVID-19 Infections, 15 Deaths

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Nigeria recorded no fewer than 1,301 new coronavirus (COVID-19) infections and 15 fatalities due to complications from the diseases in 24 hours.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), in a statement on its website, said total confirmed cases nationwide rose to 113,305 between Monday and Tuesday.

The NCDC disclosed figures on Tuesday on its official website.

1,191,866 people have so far been tested since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was recorded in the country on Feb. 27, 2020.

The public health agency said that 1,261 patients had been discharged from isolation centres after testing negative to the virus.

The NCDC noted that the discharges included 702 community recoveries in Lagos State, 157 in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and 143 in Plateau.

“So far a total of 91,200 patients have been discharged following their recovery from COVID-19,” NCDC said.

It reported 15 COVID-19-related deaths in the last 24 hours across the country.

The Nigeria’s public health agency said that the new cases were recorded in 21 states and the FCT in the last 24 hours.

It, however, said that a total of 1,464 patients died from the disease.

NCDC said that Lagos recorded the highest number of new cases with 551, followed by the FCT 209, Oyo State 83 and Plateau State 65.

Other states were Kaduna (64), Enugu (61), Rivers (44), Ondo (39), Benue (37), Akwa Ibom (31), Kano (19), Delta (18), Gombe (18), Ogun (16), Edo (15), Kebbi (10), Ebonyi (nine), Jigawa (four), Osun and Zamfara three each, Borno and Nasarawa, one each.

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

Meanwhile, the agency urged the public to stem the rate of infection by avoiding close contact, wearing cloth face masks in public places and practising good hygiene.

“Avoid close contact. This means avoiding close contact within about six feet, or two meters with anyone who is sick or has symptoms.

“ Also, keep distance between yourself and others. This is especially important if you have a higher risk of serious illness.

“Avoid sharing dishes, glasses, bedding and other household items if you are sick. Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily.

“Stay home from work, school and public areas if you are sick, unless you are going to get medical care. Avoid public transportation, taxis and ride-sharing if you’re sick.

“If you have a chronic medical condition and may have a higher risk of serious illness, check with your doctor about other ways to protect yourself,” it advised.

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40 Students Contract COVID-19 in Mozambique

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Villages in Mozambique's northern region grapple with faceless jihadists

No fewer than 40 students have tested positive to the dreaded coronavirus (COVID-19) disease in Mozambique capital, Maputo, an official has revealed.

Deolinda Cossa, Provincial Director of Education and Human Development in Maputo, who announced the results on Monday, said the students were tested on last week.

According to Cossa, of the 40 students, 23 study at Casa do Gaiato Reception Centre in Maputo and had returned to home during the festive season.

The infected students are in institutional and home isolation.

The governor of Maputo province, Júlio Parruque, urged schools to intensify enforcement of public health measures in order to reverse the situation.

Parruque said wearing of face masks, social distancing and handwashing were mandatory.

On Tuesday morning, Mozambique has 27,446 total confirmed infections of the coronavirus, 249 deaths and 18,880 recoveries.

Meanwhile, President Filipe Nyusi last week said Mozambique has applied to access COVID-19 vaccines through the global vaccine distribution scheme co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The scheme gives Mozambique the option to buy doses for at least 20% of its population.

As a low income country, Mozambique qualifies for subsidised vaccines under the COVAX facility, which aims to make available 2 billion doses of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021.

“We have applied to the COVAX programme and we expect to get the vaccine to vaccinate 20% of vulnerable people”, Nyusi said in an address to the nation.

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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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