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Nigerian Government Worries As Lassa Fever Cases Hit 1131 In 27 States

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The Nigerian Government has expressed concern over the number of new confirmed cases of Lassa fever in some states.

The Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, expressed the concern in Abuja at the joint national briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.

He said that there had been reported cases of Lassa fever in some states, especially as the dry season is setting in.

The minister said that there were 180 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and two deaths recorded in the last 24 hours.

According to him, this brings to 64,516 the total number of confirmed cases so far recorded in Nigeria from the 697,544 persons tested for COVID-19.

“A total of 60,737 cases have been treated and discharged while there are currently 2617 active cases currently receiving care at home or in a facility.

“We have sadly recorded 1,162 deaths with a case fatality rate of 1.8 per cent.

“We are cautiously impressed that the number of active cases is reducing as more persons are being discharged and the recovery rate is increasing,” Mamora said.

Government, he said, remains committed to sustaining the gains by ensuring quality care for all those who test positive.

He said officers of the Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and National Primary Health Care Development Agency in collaboration with some partners were on supportive supervision visits to state treatment facilities.

Acccording to the minister, while government strives to contain the spread of the disease, it is monitoring other diseases threatening the health of Nigerians.

“One of such diseases is Lassa fever which is a viral haemorrhagic disease characterized by one or more of the following symptoms: malaise, fever, headache, sore throat, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pain, chest pain and hearing loss.

“So far this year, we have recorded 1131 confirmed cases in 27 states. However, the number of new confirmed cases of Lassa has increased from three in the last weeks to 11 cases this week.

“Although nearly three-quarters of the confirmed cases are in Ondo state, Lassa fever can affect anyone anywhere.

“We therefore advise all to be vigilant especially as we approach the season when we usually record increased incidences,” he said.

The minister said that fatality is lower if patients report early for treatment.

The minister also said government is investigating the unexplained deaths in Delta and Enugu States.

According to him, experts have been dispatched to the states to support the investigation.

“In Delta State, 23 cases have been reported with 17 deaths while in Enugu State, 51 deaths have been reported. In both states, most of the affected cases are males, aged between one and 55 years.

“Most reported cases presented with fever, headache, fatigue and weakness, jaundice, abdominal pain, vomiting (with or without blood), nose bleeding, blood in stools/urine, convulsions and unconsciousness.

“As at the 6th of November, three samples from Delta and one sample from Enugu have been confirmed positive for yellow fever.

” We shall provide further updates at subsequent briefing,” he said.

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UNICEF Seeks $6.4Bn For 300 Million People Needing Humanitarian Aid

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Thursday issued an emergency fund appeal of $6.4bn to reach 300 million people, including more than 190 million children, in crises-hit areas in Africa, Asia and Central America.

The funds, the organisation largest-ever emergency fund appeal, will provide essential aide support and services through the end of 2021.

This appeal is a 35 per cent increase over funds requested for 2020, and a reflection of expanding humanitarian needs globally amidst protracted crises and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When a devastating pandemic coincides with conflict, climate change, disaster and displacement, the consequences for children can be catastrophic,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

“Today we are facing a child rights emergency in which COVID-19 and other crises are combining to deprive children of their health and wellbeing. This unprecedented situation demands a similarly unprecedented response. We are urging our donors to join us so that together we can help the world’s children get through this darkest of times and prevent a lost generation.”

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the lives of children, particularly the most vulnerable. Routine immunization services for children have been disrupted in more than 60 countries, while nearly a quarter of a billion students worldwide are still affected by COVID-19 school closures. Economic instability is disrupting essential services and making it harder for families to make ends meet and increasing the risk of domestic and gender-based violence.

Meanwhile, new humanitarian crises emerged in 2020. The conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia has left 2.8 million people in urgent need of assistance. In Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, more than 425,000 people, including 191,000 children, have been displaced. Reports of killings, abductions, recruitment and use of children as soldiers are on the rise. In addition, powerful storms devastated vulnerable communities in Central America and East Asia (namely the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia), affecting 2.6 million and 13.4 million children respectively.

At the same time, the pandemic has worsened protracted emergencies in countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, South Sudan, Ukraine and Venezuela. This coming March will mark 10 years of conflict in Syria and six years of conflict in Yemen, leaving nearly 17 million children in need of humanitarian assistance in these two countries alone.

The number of climate-related disasters has tripled in the last 30 years, threatening food security, increasing water scarcity, forcing people from their homes and increasing the risk of conflict and public health emergencies. An estimated 36 million children, more than ever before, are living in displacement due to conflict, violence and disaster. Malnutrition among children is on the rise in countries around the world.

As part of its Humanitarian Action for Children which sets out the agency’s 2021 appeal, UNICEF plans to reach:

  • 149 million women and girls and 7.4 million children with disabilities;
  • 6.3 million children with treatment for severe acute malnutrition;
  • 27.4 million children with measles vaccinations;
  • 45 million people with access to safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene;
  • 19.2 million children and caregivers with access to mental health and psychosocial support;
  • 17 million children and women with access to gender-based violence risk mitigation, prevention or response interventions;
  • 93.3 million children with formal or non-formal education, including early learning; and
  • 9.6 million households with cash assistance.

As part of its response to COVID-19, UNICEF is putting its massive supply and procurement operation behind rolling out a COVID-19 vaccine, with a focus on equity to reach the most vulnerable children and families. This work includes coordinating with major global airlines and freight providers to step up efforts to deliver vaccines to more than 92 countries around the world as soon as vaccines become available. The agency is also co-leading efforts to help governments’ readiness to deploy the vaccines – including by prepositioning syringes, mapping out cold chain equipment, and tackling misinformation.

The top five appeals by funding requirements for 2021 are for Syrian refugees (US$1.0 billion), Yemen (US$576.9 million), the Democratic Republic of Congo (US$384.4 million), Syria (US$330.8 million) and Venezuela (US$201.8 million).

Putting national and local organizations at the center of humanitarian operations is a key strategy in UNICEF’s humanitarian response. Key results in 2020 were made possible by UNICEF’s partnerships, including with humanitarian country teams, UN agencies, civil society and non-governmental organizations, national and local responders and resource partners. Notable results include:

  • 1.5 million children treated for severe acute malnutrition;
  • 3.4 million children vaccinated against measles;
  • 3 billion people reached with COVID-19 messaging on prevention and access to services;
  • 1.8 million health care workers provided with personal protective equipment;
  • 45.5 million households benefiting from new or additional social assistance measures provided by governments to respond to COVID-19 with UNICEF support;
  • 2.5 million COVID-19 test kits provided to 56 countries.

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COVID-19: AU Targets Vaccinating 60% Of Africans In 2 Years

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COVID-19 Vaccine tests has been successful in different regions of the world/ Shutterstock

In the next two to three years, the African Union is targeting the vaccination of 60% of Africa’s population, against COVID-19.

This was revealed on Thursday by the disease control group of the umbrella body for countries in Africa.

Africa, with a current population of more than 1.3bn people has recorded at least 2.2million COVID-19 cases. The worst-hit country in the continent is South Africa, which has almost 800,000 cases and has recorded more than 21,000 deaths.

While the UN has said it will collaborate with pharmaceutical companies and international organisations to make vaccines available to some African countries, the timing of vaccination has become a major concern.

“We hope that for this to be meaningful, our 60% must be reached in the next two to three years. We should be deliberate in this,” said John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mr Nkengasong warned African leaders about the need to start the vaccinations in good time, in order to prevent the disease from becoming endemic.

Read: Kenya Looks To China For COVID-19 Vaccine

He added that there are also logistics problems being faced by the continent, with how to keep vaccines’ cold chains viable also posing a challenge.

“We have a window from now to January and February to keep strengthening our systems, which is the refrigeration,” said Nkengasong.

Africa is one of the least coronavirus-infected regions of the world, but there have been fears about the resurgence of the disease, with new outbreaks recorded in Kenya and South Africa.

An average of 3,000 daily cases being recorded in South Africa, while Kenyan health workers said the increase in the number of cases is affecting its medical systems.

Companies like Pfizer and BioNTech have recorded successes with their COVID-19 trials, with the stronger economies of the world already booking significant doses for their populations.

African countries have been charged to look inwards in their search for a vaccine and also, in the improvement of their health systems.

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Nigeria Records 1 COVID-19 Death, 122 New Cases

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has reported 122 new cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease in the country.

The health agency in a post its website on Wednesday said that the new infections were reported from 10 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The public health agency stated that the new infections had brought the total number of cases in the country to 67,838.

NCDC reports that Nigeria has so far tested 779,708 persons since the first confirmed case relating to the COVID-19 pandemic was announced on Feb. 27, 2020.

The NCDC said that the country had recorded a total of 1,177 deaths, 67,960 confirmed infections, and discharged 63,839 patients across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

The health agency reported one COVID-19-related death in the last 24 hours in the country, adding that 409 patients were treated and discharged from different isolation centres across the country.

The agency stated that Kaduna recorded the highest number of cases with 37 infections, followed by Lagos with 29 infections, Plateau had 25, Ekiti, 9, while River had 5 infections.

Further breakdown showed that Ogun had 5, Edo 4, Kwara 4, Bayelsa 2, while Bauchi and Kano had one each.

It said that a multi-sectoral national emergency operations centre was activated at Level 3, and had continued to coordinate the national response activities.

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