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Nigeria Records 1,244 New COVID-19 Infections, Total Now 101,331

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The total number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Nigeria rose to 101,331 in 24 hours with additional 1,244 cases on Monday night.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), on its website late Monday night, also reported three coronavirus-related deaths for the period.

Available data show that last week the country recorded more than 9,833 cases, a sharp increase from the 5,681 cases recorded in the previous week of Dec. 27, 2020, and Jan. 2, 2021.

The agency said the new infections were reported from across 20 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

It disclosed that Lagos state, the epicentre of the virus in country, recorded the highest number of confirmed cases with 774 new infections, taking the total number of cases in the state to 36,875.

The health agency added that Lagos, FCT and Plateau recorded the highest number of COVID-19 infections with 774, 125 and 102 cases respectively.

Others states include: Anambra-47, Ondo-46, Rivers-27, Edo-18, Kaduna-16, Ogun-16, Gombe-16, Bauchi-11, Kano-11, Nasarawa-10, Akwa Ibom-seven, Sokoto-seven, Borno-five, Ekiti-four, and Zamfara-two.

The NCDC also announced the discharge of 461 patients from different isolation centres across the country.

“Our discharges today include 144 community recoveries in Lagos State managed in line with guidelines,” it said, adding that it had conducted at least 1,033,858 tests since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced in the country.

According to it, a multi-sectoral national Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) activated at Level 3, is coordinating response activities nationwide.

The agency issued a public health advisory to alert Nigerians that non-adherence to public health and social measures was undermining its response efforts aimed at limiting the continued spread of the virus.

“The average number of daily confirmed cases recorded in the first week of January 2021, was higher than the cumulative cases recorded the last week of December 2020.

“Following the festive season, and in view of the increase in the number of confirmed cases in Nigeria, the NCDC and partners, with leadership from the Federal Ministry of Health and the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 are putting in place measures to strengthen the public health agency’s response to the pandemic,” it said.

While Nigerians may be tired of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact, the virus is taking advantage of the fatigue, complacency, increased momentum, and taking advantage of lapses in the adherence to recommended safety protocols.

To prevent the further spread of COVID-19, the NCDC said, Nigerians are reminded to wear a face mask properly, wash hands with soap, and maintain physical distance.

The NCDC noted that COVID-19 could affect all age groups with severe outcomes in the elderly (50 years and above), and in persons with co-morbidities such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer etc.

The NCDC promises to continue working with other agencies under the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Health to spear-head public health response to the disease.

It added that it would continue to play a key role in the multi-sectoral response to the disease, within the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF-COVID-19), established by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Given the sustained increase in cases, the agency said it would also continue to work closely with state governments, provide support through the deployment of Rapid Response
Teams, provide laboratory and medical supplies as well as carry out other response activities.

“We urge state governments to take greater ownership of their response, maintain their COVID-19 surveillance structures, laboratory diagnosis and testing.

“Unless states actively test, they will not know their disease burden, putting local communities at greater risk of adverse outcomes, if the virus is not detected and impacts vulnerable populations.

“NCDC has significantly scaled-up the national testing capacity by expanding the number of laboratories for COVID-19 testing across states.

“Sample collection sites have also been established in many Local Government Areas, making public health testing more easily accessible.

“Testing in public laboratories remains free of charge (unless for travel purposes in private laboratories, where pricing structures vary,” it explained.

The NCDC charged healthcare professionals to maintain a high index of suspicion, especially when treating patients with breathing difficulties and also present with symptoms common to COVID-19.

It urged Nigerians to adhere to the recommended public health and social measures recommended by public health authorities and to avoid all non-essential travel within and outside Nigeria to reduce the risk of transmission.

“We also strongly advise business owners, employees and religious leaders to institute the strict enforcement and adherence to public measures, which include the wearing of face masks, ensuring the availability of handwashing facilities or providing hand sanitizers.

The NCDC said it remain grateful to all frontline health workers, state public health teams, stakeholders, and partners who have continued to work extremely hard since the beginning of the pandemic supporting the response efforts.

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Africa’s COVID-19 Death Rate Now Higher Than Global Average – CDC

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The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) says the coronavirus (COVID-19) death rate on the continent is now greater than the global average.

John N. Nkengasong – a Cameroonian virologist and Africa CDC’s Director – disclosed this in the health agency’s weekly video briefing shared on Facebook on Thursday.

Describing the situation as “worrying and concerning”, Nkengasong told reporters that the continent’s death rate stands at 2.5% against a global average of 2.2%.

He added that the number of nations recording higher rates is growing.

Earlier during the pandemic, Africa recorded lower death rates than the global average, Nkengasong said.

But in the “second wave” 21 African nations had a death rate above 3%. They are Sudan, Egypt, Liberia, Mali, Chad, Niger, The Gambia, Tunisia, Eswatini, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe.

Over the past week, cases decreased by nearly 7% compared to the previous week while deaths increased 10%, according to Africa CDC data.

The continent reported 207,000 new cases in the past week, with South Africa alone reporting 100,000 of those new cases, Nkengasong said.

The continent has so far confirmed 3.3 million Covid-19 cases with 2.7 million recoveries and 81,000 deaths.

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South African Minister Dies of COVID-19

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the death of Jackson Mthembu, the Minister in the Presidency of South Africa’s government. Mthembu died of coronavirus (COVID-19), aged 62.

Mthembu, who since 2019 had been serving as the minister in the presidency, was a parliamentarian and long-serving member of the governing African National Congress (ANC).

He had worked his way up the ranks over many years and has been described as a man of integrity.

In his tribute, President Ramaphosa said the 62-year-old was “an exemplary leader” and “life-long champion of democracy”.

He said the deceased “was a much-loved and greatly respected colleague and comrade, whose passing leaves our nation at a loss.”

“I extend my deepest sympathies to the minister’s family, to his colleagues, comrades and many friends.”

Ten days ago, Mthembu shared the news in a tweet that he had abdominal pain and had tested positive for coronavirus. His last tweet on that same day read: “I want to thank the many South Africans who have wished me a speedy recovery. As a people, we must overcome Covid-19.”

Mthembu was the fourth cabinet member to be confirmed infected with the coronavirus.

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COVID-19: Zimbabwe’s First Lady Calls for Prayers, Fasting

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The Zimbabwean First Lady has invited women in the country to join her for three days of prayer and fasting over the Covid-19 pandemic.

Auxillia Mnangagwa stated she would fast and pray from Thursday till Saturday for Zimbabwe to be “spared from further calamity”.

She urged women to ensure their families observe Covid-19 safety guidelines to prevent the virus from spreading further.

“We need a plan at the household level for regularly using any means at our disposal to clean and sanitise our homes, to ensure that everyone in the home knows the importance of having a mask and masking up properly, more importantly to organise sharp, safe errands for our requirements to get going whilst enforcing the family to stay at home,” she said in a statement.

Zimbabwe has lost 879 people to coronavirus, including top government officials with the most recent death being that of Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo.

On Wednesday, January 20, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Sibusiso Moyo, died after contracting COVID-19.

Moyo, a former army general who announced the military coup that led to the removal of the late long-serving leader Robert Mugabe in November 2017.

Moyo died at a local hospital early on Wednesday,.

Moyo was one of several generals who, after helping plot the coup, were rewarded with senior positions in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s cabinet and the ruling ZANU-PF party.

Another cabinet minister, retired general and agriculture minister Perrance Shiri, died of the virus in July 2020.

Zimbabwe has suffered a surge in COVID-19 infections, with more than half of the 28,675 total cases and 825 deaths being recorded since New Year’s Day.

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