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Nigeria records 10 cases of COVID-19 Delta variant – NCDC

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Nigeria has so far recorded 10 new cases of the Delta COVID-19 variant.

The Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu disclosed this at the ministerial briefing on COVID-19 in Abuja,

Reports said that the Delta variant is recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a variant of concern, given its increased transmissibility.

The variant has so far been detected in over 90 countries.

Ihekweazu, who was represented by Mrs Elsie Ilori, Director of Disease Surveillance Department, CDC while, giving an update on the Nigeria’s COVID-19 situation, said that while progress had been made in response to the ongoing pandemic with the fact paced development of diagnostic, therapeutic, and vaccines globally, variants of concern with increased transmissibility pose a threat.

“With sequencing efforts, we have detected 10 cases which are confirmed to be the Delta variant.

”We are working hard to ensure genomic surveillance of travelers’ samples and to scale up our genomic sequencing capacity.

“While doing this, we are scaling up our testing capability, by the rollout of rapid Diagnostic Test Kits (RTDs), in selected states nationwide.

“As we have mentioned before, we encourage congregate setting, such as hospitals, schools, workplaces and correctional facilities, to take advantage of the WHO, approved RTDs kits to detect cases promptly,” he explained.

The NCDC boss disclosed that the country’s test positive rate based on Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), test alone, which he noted was an indication used to understand the level of virus transmission increased to 3.4 percent in the country.

“This represents a rise compared to Test Positivity Rate (TPR), which was sustained for several weeks at around 1 percent in the country. In addition, last week five deaths were recorded.

“These figures must serve as a strong warning to be even more on our guard regarding reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread, especially considering the more transmissible Delta variants detected in the country,” he advised.

Ihekweazu stressed that Lagos state continued to have the highest contribution to the current caseload in the country.

He noted that states which have recently recorded increases in cases include Akwa Ibom, Ekiti, Oyo and Rivers states.

“Akwa Ibom had a sudden surge in cases in the last week and so, we have deployed a Rapid Response Team, to support the state’s response activities.

“The team will support Akwa Ibom’s Emergency Operations Centre incident management systems, ensure smooth running of samples collection centres, laboratory cases detection and general coordination,” he disclosed.

The DG said that while the agency continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was also focusing on other infectious diseases.

“Our response to the cholera outbreak has continued and as at July 22, a total of 22,130 suspected cases and unfortunately 526 deaths, have been reported due to this illness in 18 states and the FCT.

“However, in the last two weeks, a decline in cases has been recorded and the Emergency Operations Centre, in collaboration with the Ministry of Water Resources, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and other partners, is continuing to coordinate a multi sector response.,” he said.

The NCDC boss noted that the agency always ensured that it made records of challenges from each outbreak and put in measures to improve the next response.

“Last week, NCDC held a national COVID-19 intra action review with various stakeholders to review preparedness and outbreak response, to identify best practices, challenges and propose recommended actions,” he noted.

According to Ihekweazu, some areas of response which we are working on are that we have continued to reinvigorate our risk communications efforts, to ensure Nigerians understand that coronavirus is real and still poses a high risk.

The DG added that in a bid to scale the use of RTDs tests, there have been training of trainers on the appropriate and safe use of these kits in several states, including a just concluded training in Bayelsa, and Benue.

Regarding improving surveillance of COVID-19 cases in the country, he added that the agency was training community volunteers to support case finding and contact tracing.

In a related development, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire has warned that Nigeria was at risk of registering high incidences of the Delta variant of COVID-19.

This it said was due to neglect of preventive measures at Airports and other points of entry in the country.

Ehnaire decried that inspite of evidence of the emergence of a third wave in the country, passengers were absconding quarantine at all points of entry.

The minister also expressed concerns that citizens had refused to adhere to public health advisories, even as treatment bed occupancy was also registering an increase.

He expressed this concern while noting that countries that were popular travel destinations for Nigerians, including the UK, U.S., UAE, France and Turkey had high incidence of this virulent variant.

“Nigeria is at increased risk if we continue to neglect public health protocols placed at points of entry, which are our first line of defence and a critical point of concern.

“The ministry’s Point of Entry (PoE) pillar of the COVID-91 response has been continuously monitoring passenger arrivals especially from high-risk countries like India, Turkey and Brazil.

”This process has been an arduous one given that port health staff have continued to report a trend of absconding by quarantined passengers, an act detrimental to our pandemic response and public health safety.

“The severity of this disease should NOT be disregarded as it is still a primary cause of concern, even in countries with stronger health systems,” he said.

The minister, therefore, tasked all persons to comply with the Port Health staff or risk facing sanctions, which included prosecution.

“Non-compliance with their directives constitutes a risk to national health security and will be handled with commensurate severity.

“I wish to reemphasise that we must fervently avoid complacency and continue to abide by the given Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions.

“Remember that Nigeria is a well-traversed country and is susceptible to further importation of the virus, especially when there is clear evidence that the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has begun across the continent,” he added.

The minister further stressed that in the past 24 hours, the world witnessed an increase in reported cases of COVID-19 across a significant number of countries, due to the high transmissibility of the Delta Variant.

“As of July 25, Nigeria had a total of 170,895 COVID-19 cases, and 2,132 fatalities. There are 4,180 active cases across the country, including 216 new cases recorded in the last 24 hours from 7 states.

“Nigeria started recording an increase in cases after the first case of the delta variant was reported early July,” he stressed.

In preparation for the third wave, Ehanire said the ministry had taken steps to urgently scale-up and enhance local oxygen capacity even before oxygen consumption increased.

He also said Nigeria had invested directly and strategically to ensuring oxygen availability to avert unforeseen incidence of oxygen insufficiency for COVID-19 patients in the country.

On COVID-19 vaccines, the minister said that Nigeria was expecting over 29 million of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

He said that the vaccine was purchased by the Government of Nigeria through the African Union’s African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) facility and over four million of the Moderna.

He also said that Nigeria is expecting almost 700 thousand of the AstraZeneca vaccine, through the COVAX facility from bilateral donations from the governments of the U.S. and the UK as well as Pfizer and Sinopharm from both bilateral agreements and through the COVAX facility.

Also speaking, Minister of State for Health, Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora said that COVID-19 would continue to have a significant impact on the way Nigerians lived.

Mamora urged Nigerians to stay safe because a large portion of the country remained unvaccinated and highly contagious variants, like delta would be spreading as seen in many countries, spurring outbreaks.

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Drug Free World Africa advocates indigenous model to combat drug abuse

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A Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Drug Free World Africa (DFWA) has proposed an adoption of a public health literacy model derived from African traditional knowledge and ethics to fight substance abuse and drug addiction in Nigeria and Africa.

The proposal was made during a courtesy visit of the organization to the Deputy Governor of Imo State, Lady Chinyere Ekomaru.

The DFWA partners with National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), and researchers from the Imo State University, in a bid to curb drug and substance abuse.

According to the leader of the group, Professor Yongabi, a fellow of the African Institute of Public Health Professional and Fellow of the Public Health Practitioner Council of Nigeria, the epidemic of substance abuse and drug addiction is rising at an unprecedented rate in Africa, with far-reaching consequences for the society.
Yongabi outlined the health effects of opioid , tramadol and cannabinoids from the plant cannabis sativa.

He posited that these plants were created for medicinal uses but over the years the phytochemicals have been abused.

He emphasized that the problem is not only a mental health issue but also a socioeconomic one, fueled by poverty and lack of basic needs.

“Drawing from the Nairobi Declaration of 1998 where health literacy was redefined by World Health Organization (WHO), incorporating the socioeconomic determinants, the drug addiction and abuse in Nigeria and Africa at large is propelled by poverty and lack of basic needs but while in the western society it is not predicted on poverty but by mental health related challenges.”

“The epidemiological picture of substance abuse in Nigeria and Africa is rising at an unprecedented proportions and may be incurable like cancer and AIDs,” Yongabi noted.

He proposed a four-pillar model for addressing the issue, which includes access to knowledge about the dangers of substance abuse, understanding the consequences of drug use, using the knowledge effectively, and benefiting from it.

He emphasized the importance of mainstreaming African indigenous knowledge systems into the model to make it more effective.

“The third pillar underpins the use of the knowledge effectively and the fourth pillar is the positive health outcome as a result of having access to the knowledge, understanding the knowledge, use of the knowledge and benefiting from the knowledge.”

“This particular pillar and for the first time addressing drug addiction and substance abuse, the African indigenous knowledge system will be mainstreamed into these four pillars of health literacy so that we can actually have an effective Drug Free Nigeria,” the University Don stated.

Yongabi also highlighted the need for a multidimensional approach to tackle the problem, involving policy makers, young people, adolescents, parents, and government officials.

He urged the Imo State Government through the Deputy Governor to adopt the health literacy model as a policy and roll out capacity building programs for all stakeholders.

“We are requesting the mother of our state; your children should not perish due to lack of Knowledge. Your children are drinking ‘Gutter Juice’ which is a blend of old abused drugs (Cocaine, Marijuana, Crystal Methamphetamine and so on) with their new findings like coke in urine, used sanitary pads soaked in water and so on.”

“Education –‘Drug Abuse Free Literacy’ is the key. Lack of this form of education makes them weak and vulnerable to drug abuse.”

“‘Prevention Is Always Better Than Cure’
Your Excellency, assuming we can’t get a total drug abuse free State, our children in schools Primary, Secondary and even tertiary are crying out for our motherly/parental intervention. Let all not run amok. Drug Free World Africa is reaching out on this tour as major target plans.”

“We therefore solicit your support/partnership on this project. Help us expand our reach and impact across the State. Take it as your Personal Passionate Pet Project (PPPP- P4).
“Drug Free World Africa (DFWA) will run it to your pride in the state. We believe that, this project, if taking and done well, your name will be engraved in every child’s heart, their prayers will lead you
father and protect you now and ever,” he appealed.

Professor Yongabi also highlighted that 60% of Nigeria’s population is made up of adolescents and youth, who are most vulnerable to drug abuse. He urged the government to adopt a clear distinction between medicine and drugs, emphasizing that many people confuse these terms.

He emphasized the need to address new substances that have not been widely known but are being used by young people at local levels, which can lead to addiction and psychopathic effects.

Also speaking, the country representative of Drug Free World Africa, Dr Lina Okereke, highlighted the achievements of the organization and prayed that the Imo State Government should throw their weight on the efforts and achievements gained thus far.

Reacting, the Deputy Governor commended the efforts of DFWA and acknowledged the gravity of the problem, emphasizing that it is everyone’s responsibility to fight against drug abuse. She pledged to work with the team and Imo State University researchers to proffer a drug-free state.

“Substance addiction has been the cause of the incessant insecurities in the state and the country at large . The fight against drug abuse is everyone’s contribution as the perpetrators come from families and that parents and pharmacies are all part of the solution.”

“Our administrator has so far trying tirelessly to uplift the welfare of the citizens of the state and we promise to work with Drug Free World Africa and Imo State University researchers to proffer a drug free state.” Ekomaru promised.

The team stressed that education is key in preventing drug abuse and promoting a healthy lifestyle. They appealed to parents and government officials to take responsibility in creating awareness and providing support for those affected by substance abuse.

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Cholera: NAFDAC educates food vendors and restaurants on proper hygiene practices

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The National Agency for Food Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has intensified surveillance in restaurants and other eateries to ensure hygeinic practices against cholera outbreak in Sokoto State.
The agency’s state Coordinator, Mr Garba Adamu, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday that a team of officials had been detailed to ensure that stipulated sanitary regulations were adhered by all food outlets.
Adamu explained that “the team, headed by NAFDAC’S  Nutrition Officer, Mr Abubakar Aliyu, is to ensure that only safe, hygienic and quality foods are being prepared and sold to consumers.”
He said that through routine inspection,food vendors were mandated to comply with the agency’s guidelines on good hygiene and sanitation practices.
According to him, the effort is to safeguard peoples’ health and prevent the spread of cholera, as cases are being recorded in some parts of the country.
The coordinator cautioned food vendors against using adulterated, counterfeit, unregistered and expired items in cooking their meals, reiterating that NAFDAC would continue the enforcement to apprehend defaulters.
Adamu said the operation would be extended to local government areas, border markets and others as part of the agency’s efforts to ensure only hygienic foods are sold.
He called on the public to be wary of poorly prepared foods, and report any unhygienic practice from any eatery to NAFDAC, reiterating the agency’s determination to safeguard the health of the nation.
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Cholera: Experts recommend that schools and institutions prioritize food hygiene

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Dr Ben Akuma, a medical practitioner, has advised schools and public institutions in communities on the need for improved hygiene practices among students and residents.

He said that the call for hygiene practices could never be overemphasised, nor ignored.

Akuma said that washing of hands; fruits and vegetables under running water were part of steps to personal hygiene that should be encouraged regularly, to prevent illnesses such as cholera.

“When dirt is removed from vegetables, the risk of microbiological contamination is reduced as any infected soil or dirt is removed.

“Washing of hands, fruits and vegetables with safe water before eating is necessary. Also meat, fish and vegetables should be properly cooked well.

“Ensure to keep food covered in a clean and cool place, eat fruits and vegetables that you peeled yourself and also avoid eating raw vegetables and fruits not peeled.

“Encourage people to drink only water that they have boiled or treated with chlorine or iodine; these are some of the campaigns that should be ongoing regularly,’’ he said.

The doctor advised schools and other public places to provide wash hand tools, soaps and water to encourage proper hygiene culture.

He described as unfortunate, how some Nigerians only imbibe hygiene culture for a brief period and then return to an unhealthy lifestyle that might threaten their health.

He, however, urged residents in various communities in the FCT to protect themselves, their families and the society at large, by cultivating a hygiene and sanitary culture for the benefit of all.

Similarly, Mr Williams Kolo, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Coordinator, Environmental Health Services Department, Bwari Area Council, said that WASH activities could improve and help prevent and control diseases.

Kolo said the council was working with its partners to improve sanitation and hygiene, especially in primary health centres, public schools and among residents in the various communities in the council.

These interventions, he said included improved water sources, toilet facilities, behavioural change campaigns among others, were part of measures already rolled out to help prevent and control diseases in the area.

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