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Nigerian Government Shuts Nightclubs, Restaurants To Limit COVID-19 Spread

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The Nigerian government on Monday ordered the closure of bars, nightclubs and restaurants to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the second wave.

Nigeria, after a period of the low number of case incidences, has recorded high numbers in the past few weeks including a daily highest figure of over 900 cases.

There are more than 78,000 cases recorded so far, with the country being the worst-hit in the West African subregion. Nigeria has also recorded more than 1,200 deaths since the disease broke out earlier in the year.

Recall that Nigeria had earlier imposed a lockdown to check the spread of the disease in the first wave.

In order to check an impending loom and limit the fast-spreading disease, the Nigerian government has also asked federal workers on Grade Level 12 and below to sit at home.

“In line with the authorisation, the PTF wishes to issue the following advisories to sub-national entities for implementation over the next five weeks because these activities are considered super spreader events:” Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of Nigeria’s Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha said on Monday.

“Close All bars, night clubs, pubs and event centres, and recreational venues;

“Close all restaurants except those providing services to hotel residents; takeaways, home deliveries and drive-ins shall remain closed;

“Restrict all informal and formal festivity events including weddings, conferences, congresses, office parties, concerts, seminars, sporting activities, end of year events shall be restricted to not more than 50 persons;

“Limit All gatherings linked to religious events to less than 50% capacity of the facility of use during which physical distancing; mandatory use of face masks shall be strictly enforced

“Where more than 50 persons are attending, any such events, the gathering should be held outdoors only;

“Public transportation systems are to carry passengers not more than 50% of their capacity in compliance with social distancing rules.

“Enforce compliance with NPI protocols especially the advisory on wearing of face masks in public spaces;

“To reduce overcrowding in public spaces, markets, shopping centres, offices and schools States are advised to implement the following:

“Encourage virtual meetings in government Offices. The leadership of such offices are to ensure that all offices are well-ventilated offices, and encourage staff to work from home where possible;

“All government staff on GL.12 and below are to stay at home for the next 5 weeks; Permanent Secretaries and Chief Executives are to be held accountable for enforcing NPI rules in their domains with frequent spot checks;

“The PTF on the advice of the Federal Ministry of Education, expects that schools would have vacated from the 18th December 2020 and remain closed till at least the 18th of January, 2021 to enable the measures introduced to take effect.”

The second wave of COVID-19 is suspected to be driven by a new strain of cornonavirus which has a faster rate of transmission but less deadly.

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Rabbis Condemn Tunisia’s President Saied over ‘Thieving Jews’ Comments

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The Conference of European Rabbis (CER) on Wednesday warned that Tunisian Jews may become targets after President Kais Saied blamed them for rising social tensions in the country.

President Saied had in a recent meeting with residents of the low-income Al-Tadamon neighborhood – also known as Ettadhamen-Mnihla – in Greater Tunis blamed Tunisia’s woes on “thieving Jews”.

A recording of the visit to Al-Tadamon, including the president’s comments, were uploaded to his Facebook account on Tuesday.

CER’s Chief Rabbi, Pinchas Goldschmidt, condemned the president’s verbal attacks on the Jews.

“The Conference of European Rabbis wishes to express its deep concern following the serious and public remarks made by Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed this morning, accusing Jews of being responsible for the instability in the country”

“The CER urges the Tunisian President to withdraw these remarks, which constitute an immediate threat to the physical and moral integrity of Tunisian Jewish citizens.

“We consider that the Tunisian government is the guarantor of the security of Tunisian Jews. Such allegations threaten the integrity of one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world,” he said.

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Tropical Storm Eloise: Weather Service Publishes Updates

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Tropical storm Eloise made a landfall on Tuesday across the North-East of Madagascar bringing gusty winds & heavy rain. Eloise has weakened but is forecast to escalate as it exits the west coast and heads into the Mozambique Channel towards Southern Mozambique later this week.

At the moment, Eloise is currently considered as a Moderate Tropical Storm, with a central pressure less than 1000 hPa (hectopascal). It is however set to intensify in the coming days into a cyclone.

In December, Cyclone Chalane hit parts of Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Weather experts say South Africa may experience heavy rains over the next few days.  The storm is expected to reach the Kingdom of Eswatini this weekend, with strong winds and heavy rainfall making its way from Mozambique.

South African Meteorologist Francois Engelbrecht forecasts severe winds and flooding. 

“Right now, for South Africa, if the storm is going to follow this track into Southern Mozambique and then towards our eastern escarpment in the North East, some parts of our Limpopo province and then southwards along the escarpment in Mpumalanga all the way to Swaziland, these areas [are] getting 100mm of rainfall on Sunday and Monday.”

Engelbrecht said rains of up to 200mm in certain areas indicate a high chance of flooding.

After making a landfall, Eloise is expected to push further south-westwards towards South Africa and Mozambique. Extreme rain is expected over southern Mozambique, eastern Lowveld, escarpment of Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces as well as Northern KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa up until Monday 25th January.

Against this backdrop, the South African Weather Service (SAWS) warns that possible impacts of these rains may include general flooding, damage to road infrastructure, bridges and possible displacements of affected communities.

SAWS relying on modern satellite remote sensing as well as advanced ensemble numeric modelling techniques will continue to closely monitor and make further timely updates to the public.

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Militant Attacks in Mozambique Continue to Fuel Aid Crisis – UN

According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data (ACLED) group, no fewer than 2,500 people have died, over half of them civilians.

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The United Nations on Wednesday, disclosed militant attacks in northern Mozambique have created a “worsening humanitarian crisis,” estimating that over half a million people had now fled their homes.

A shadowy militant group that calls itself Ahlu Sunnah Wal-Jama has terrorized residents in gas-rich Cabo Delgado province since 2017, ransacking villages in a campaign to establish an Islamist caliphate.

The group, after pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group in 2019, intensified its attacks, sometimes carrying out executions and beheadings and abducting women and children.

According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data (ACLED) group, no fewer than 2,500 people have died, over half of them civilians.

Thousands have had to flee their homes, mainly seeking refuge with friends and relatives in the regional capital Pemba, due to the militant attacks.

“The United Nations is deeply concerned by the worsening humanitarian crisis and escalating violence forcing thousands to flee in Cabo Delgado province,” the UN’s southern and eastern Africa directors said in a joint statement.

“According to the government, militant attacks by non-state groups have forced more than 565,000 people to flee … abandoning their crops and livelihoods.”

They added that the upcoming rainy season and the coronavirus pandemic have only aggravated existing issues like the shortage of food, sanitation and schooling among the displaced.

The UN has called for more aid and resources to help uprooted families start from scratch, as they were “completely reliant on humanitarian assistance”.

“We reckon that 1.6 million people are in need of help,” UN resident Mozambique coordinator Mytra Kaulard said in an online press briefing.

“There is a cholera epidemic in Cabo Delgado that we are struggling to contain,” she added.

The UN’s statement coincided with a three-day visit by Portugal’s foreign minister, Augusto Santos Silva, on behalf of the European Union, to discuss security situation in its former colony, which is constantly getting worse.

Mozambican forces have struggled to regain control of Cabo Delgado, which also houses Africa’s three largest liquid natural gas (LNG) projects.

Militants have so far seized large swathes of territory, including the key port town of Mocimboa da Praia — about 60 kilometres (37 miles) south of a $20 billion gas exploration project led by Total, the French energy giant.

In late December, insurgency forced the company to suspend construction on its LNG site.

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi and Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne had a meeting this week and the president vowed to “establish a security plan” to safeguard the project.

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