Thursday, 28 May 2020
World Health Organisation said it has suspended a clinical trial of the anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine in coronavirus patients.

The UN agency said it did so out of safety concerns.

It said it was concerned about safety of the drug, after a study from The Lancet revealed higher mortality rates among COVID-19 patients who took the drugs.

“The authors reported that among #COVID19 patients receiving the drug, when used alone or with a macrolide, they estimated a higher mortality rate”, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.

He said hydroxychloroquine and chloraquine drugs are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria.

Hydroxychloroquine has been touted by President Donald Trump as a cure for coronavirus.

He even revealed he took the medication for two weeks as prophylactic

Tedros full statement:

On Friday, TheLancet published an observational study on hydroxycholoroquine & chloraquine and its effects on COVID-19 patients that have been hospitalised.

“The authors reported that among #COVID19 patients receiving the drug, when used alone or with a macrolide, they estimated a higher mortality rate.

“The Executive Group of the Solidarity Trial, representing 10 of the participating countries, met on Saturday and has agreed to review a comprehensive analysis and critical appraisal of all evidence available globally.

“The review will consider data collected so far in the Solidarity Trial and, in particular robust randomised available data, to adequately evaluate the potential benefits and harms from this drug

“The Executive Group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity Trial while the data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board.

“The other arms of the trial are continuing.

“This concern relates to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloraquine in #COVID19.

“I wish to reiterate that these drugs are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria.

“WHO will provide further updates as we know more.

“And we will continue to work night and day for solutions, science and solidarity”

Saturday, 23 May 2020 03:02

Africa COVID-19 cases top 100,000

The COVID-19 pandemic on Friday reached a milestone in Africa, with more than 100,000 confirmed cases.

The virus has now spread to every country in the continent since the first case was confirmed in the region 14 weeks ago.

Despite crossing this threshold, the pandemic, which has struck with such devastating force in much of the world, appears to be taking a different pathway in Africa.

Case numbers have not grown at the same exponential rate as in other regions and so far Africa has not experienced the high mortality seen in some parts of the world. Today, there are 3.100 confirmed deaths on the continent.

By comparison, when cases reached 100,000 in the World Health Organization (WHO) European region, deaths stood at more than 4,900. Early analysis by WHO suggests that Africa’s lower mortality rate may be the result of demography and other possible factors.

Africa is the youngest continent demographically with more than 60% of the population under the age of 25. Older adults have a significantly increased risk of developing a severe illness. In Europe nearly 95% of deaths occurred in those older than 60 years.

African governments have made difficult decisions and were quick to impose confinement measures, including physical and social distancing, which will have significant socio-economic costs. These measures, which along with contact tracing and isolation, expanded or increased hand washing have helped to slow down the spread of the virus.

“For now COVID-19 has made a soft landfall in Africa, and the continent has been spared the high numbers of deaths which have devastated other regions of the world,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “It is possible our youth dividend is paying off and leading to fewer deaths. But we must not be lulled into complacency as our health systems are fragile and are less able to cope with a sudden increase in cases.”

The continent has made significant progress in testing with around 1.5 million COVID-19 tests conducted so far. However, testing rates remain low and many countries continue to require support to scale-up testing. There is a need to expand the testing capacity in urban, semi-urban and rural areas, and provide additional test kits.

Cases continue to rise in Africa and while overall it took 52 days to reach the first 10,000 cases, it took only 11 days to move from 30;000 to 50 000 cases. About half of the countries in Africa are experiencing community transmission.

More than 3.400 health care workers have been infected by COVID-19. It is important that health authorities prioritize the protection of healthcare workers from COVID-19 infection at medical facilities and communities. There is also a need to provide enough personal protective equipment to health care workers and raise their awareness as well as increase infection prevention and control in health facilities.

“Testing as many people as possible and protecting health workers who come into contact with suspected and confirmed cases are crucial aspects of this response. Despite global shortages, we are working hard to prioritize the delivery of testing kits and personal protective equipment to low- and middle-income countries that have the most vulnerable populations, based on the number of cases reported,” said Dr Ahmed Al Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean.

Despite the relatively lower number of COVID-19 cases in Africa, the pandemic remains a major threat to the continent’s health systems. A new modelling study by WHO predicts that if containment measures fail, even with a lower number of cases requiring hospitalization than elsewhere, the medical capacity in much of Africa would be overwhelmed.

Now that countries are starting to ease their confinement measures, there is a possibility that cases could increase significantly, and it is critical that governments remain vigilant and ready to adjust measures in line with epidemiological data and proper risk assessment.

WHO has offices in every country on the continent and is working closely with the Africa Centres for Disease Control, Ministries of Health, United Nations agencies and other partners to support the scale-up of the response through coordination, technical expertise, the provision of much needed medical supplies and assisting with data collection and analysis.

WHO has trained more than 7000 health workers, including 1000 district health teams to support the decentralization of the response. So far, more than 225 experts have been deployed to over 39 countries in Africa and over 900 staff have been repurposed at the regional and country level to support the response.

Ten members of a family in Kaduna State have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Governor Nasir El-Rufai.

El-Rufai who broke the news on his Twitter handle on Friday gave no details, but he said the cases were among the 18 confirmed on Thursday night by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

He said all the new cases were recorded in Kaduna North, Zaria, Chikun, Sabon-Gari.

Fourteen of them were in Kaduna North, two in Zaria and one each in Chikun and Sabon-Gari.

He appealed to residents to adhere strictly to safety measures put in place to check the spread of the virus in the state.

The state government had risen from its special meeting with Islamic scholars in the state to declare that there will not be Eid-el-Fitr congregational prayers in Kaduna as part of measures to avert community transmission of the virus in the state.

South Africa on Thursday reported 1,134 confirmed COVID-19 cases, the highest daily record since the country recorded its first case in early March.

With the newly-added cases, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Africa stood at 19,137, the highest on the African continent.

“Regrettably, we report 30 more COVID-19 related deaths – this brings the total national deaths to 369,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in his daily update.

According to Xinhua, the new deaths also broke the daily record since March 5 when the country’s first infection was detected.

Nationwide, a total of 525,433 tests have been conducted to date, with 18,572 tests done in the past 24 hours, said Mkhize. The Western Cape province has 12,153 cases, the highest among all the nine provinces, to be followed by Gauteng with 2.453. The Western Cape also reported a total of 235 deaths, comprising about two thirds of the national death toll.

According to Western Cape Governor Allan Winde, the transmission in the province has been concentrated around essential services clusters, care homes and the poorest communities in Cape Town.

“We are on the upward part of the curve as per the nature of the pandemic and are expecting to see case numbers increase more rapidly, with associated increases in hospitalization and deaths,” Winde said.

The province, he said, is scaling up isolation and quarantine off-site, but this will reach its limit soon as the number of infections rise in line with the ascending curve. The number of undetected cases will continue to grow unless major increases in testing capacity is provided, Winde said.

Yunusa Dahiru, who abducted Ese Oruru, took her to Kano and forced her into marriage, has been sentenced to 26 years imprisonment.

Dahiru was sentenced on Thursday by a Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State.

Justice Jane Inyang sentenced Dahiru to 26 years in prison in a judgment she delivered on Thursday.

Inyang acquitted Dahiru on Count one but jailed him five years (count two), seven years (count three) seven years (count four) and seven years, count five.

The sentences, according to the judge. would run concurrently.

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari has approved the sack of Prof. Charles Uwakwe as the Registrar and Chief Executive of the National Examinations Council, NECO.

A letter dated May 11 and signed by the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, on behalf of the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, said Buhari approved the sack.

Also sacked by the president were four members of the Management for various offences bordering on financial impropriety.

In the letter, Uwakwe was accused of violating the Public Procurement Act (2007) and pursuant to PSR 030402 and Part 1 schedule 4 (i) of NECO Establishment Act.

He had been suspended since May 2018 by the Federal Ministry of Education, the parent ministry of the agency over alleged financial mismanagement and abuse of office.

It was alleged that Uwakwe and some top officials of the council allegedly awarded contracts in the council to the tune of N25 billion without following due process.

NECO, in a release on Wednesday by its Head of Information and Public Relations Division, Mr. Azeez Sani, confirmed that the suspended registrar had been relieved of his appointment by the President, while four members of the management had also been dismissed.

“After due consideration of the investigative panel on the allegation of unsatisfactory conduct levelled against you and some management staff of the council, Mr. President in exercise of his powers, has approved your removal as the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of National Examinations Council with effect from the date of your suspension from duty.”

The former Registrar was also directed to hand over all the government property in his custody to the acting Registrar, Mr. Abubakar Gana, The Nation reports.

The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, Lagos State branch has ordered its members to resume work after it had declared a stay-at-home on Wednesday following police brutality.

The NMA on Wednesday ordered its members to stay at home after over-zealous police authorities ordered arrest of essential workers, such as doctors and journalists during curfew on Tuesday.

However, the association, in a statement issued by its Chairman, Dr. Saliu Oseni and the Secretary, Dr Ramon Moronkola on Thursday said it gave the earlier stay at home order to her members following the continued harassment by the officers and men of the Nigerian police force.

The association said the decision was a necessary doctrine of self-preservation as it was unbearable combining the continued threat to life from the officers and men of the police force with the existing daily threat of COVID 19.

“The leadership of the Association has followed the turn of events while monitoring the situation. The Nigerian police force has reached out to the Association to clarify and give assurance of cooperation with all health-workers. This, they have also done in the media.

“The executive Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu was exemplary as his timely intervention from the late hours of May 19th helped prevent worsening of the situation.

“The association has further received assurances from Mr. Governor and the top hierarchy of the Police that no health workers will be further harassed in the course of their lawful efforts to sustain services in the middle of the pandemic.

“Above all, the passionate appeal from the good people of Lagos state is difficult to resist considering the fact that they will be most hit by the situation,” it stated.

Following a holistic consideration of the above development, the Association stated that doctors in “Lagos State, under the auspices of NMA, has, and takes seriously, a responsibility to partake actively in the fight against Covid-19 and the delivery of quality healthcare to the citizenry for the entire period of the ongoing lockdown/ restriction of movement and beyond.

“That the sit at home order issued on the 19th of May is hereby reversed and our members are hereby directed to resume work from 6 pm today, 21st of May, 2020. That the Lagos state government should ensure clarity at all times, on the exempted status of healthcare and other essential workers for the entire period of the ongoing lockdown/restriction of movement.

“That the Association will continue to monitor the situation and will not hesitate to take any action to protect the safety of our hardworking members.”

The NMA commended Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for his timely intervention and continued assurances in ensuring that the health-workers who were held by the police were released immediately and in preventing subsequent recurrence.

The Federal Government on Tuesday received a batch of 292 stranded Nigerians from Saudi Arabia.

According to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, the evacuees with a large number of nursing mother and children were flown to Abuja.

This is coming after the country successfully evacuated Nigerians from United Arab Emirates (265); United Kingdom (253) and the United States (160).

The latest returnees bring to 970 the total number of stranded Nigerians who have been evacuated.

Onyeama, via his verified Twitter account, stated that the returnees are doing well and have all settled down in hotels for the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

“We received 292 evacuees stranded in Saudi Arabia yesterday. The Saudi Government transported them to Abuja. A large number are nursing mothers and children and they are all comfortably settled in hotels under the mandatory 14 days quarantine,” he tweeted.

A popular US Pastor who disobeyed President Donald Trump’s order on religious gatherings and held a Mother’s Day Church service has tested positive for coronavirus.

Redwood Valley Assembly of God Church pastor Jack McMilin in California tested positive for coronavirus and was taken to the hospital after developing pneumonia resulting from coronavirus.

The pastor’s wife, Sharon disclosed McMilin’s diagnosis on Facebook.

Her post read: “I was going to post something in place of pastor sermon today but I’ve been on phone with so many people and health department that I didn’t get it done

“Just remember God is a big and mighty God, and he’s got us covered, remember Pastor Jack in the hospital with pneumonia from the COVID-19 virus. Thank you for all the prayers!”

On May 10, McMilin held a Mother’s Day service at Redwood Valley Assembly of God church.

He also shared a Facebook post of a woman holding a placard that reads: “Why can we go to Walmart but not Church!?”

McMilin had captioned the photo: “We need to start asking this more often and with greater volume.”

By Precious Igbonwelundu/ The Nation

Police authorities and officials of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) are looking for a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), who tested positive for COVID-19, but fled when a team came to evacuate him at the weekend.

It was gathered that the CSP (names withheld) attached to 21 Police Mobile Force (PMF), Nyanya, Abuja, was billed to be evacuated from his residence at Garki Barracks around 2pm on Friday.

The officer, have been quarantined and undergoing treatment at the National Hospital Abuja Isolation Centre, after he tested positive for the virus.

It was however not clear how and why the senior officer left the hospital and returned to his home where he was said to have continued self-treatment with the help of his friends and colleagues until Friday when NCDC officials came for him.

Sources said the health workers were led by policemen from Garki Division to the officer’s residence but he refused all entreaties to open the door and follow them.

The officer and his family members were seen peeping through the window, while the evacuators made unsuccessful efforts to convince him to follow them, it was learnt.

“He was later seen driving out of the barracks in his car to an unknown destination. His mobile phone has remained unreachable. Surveillance teams have been set up to trail and take him into custody. Police medical team has alerted and on standby,” said a source.

Contacted, Police spokesman for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Command, Mansah said he was unaware of the incident and promised to revert but had not at the time of this report.

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