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FG Debunks Presence of Wild Polio Virus, Outbreak

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By Laide Akinboade, Abuja

The Federal Government on Thursday restated that the country is free from Wild Polio Virus (WPV), and that there was no incidence of polio outbreak, anywhere in the country.

It further stated that what was available in the country was 395 cases of Circulating Mutant Poliovirus Type 2 (cMPV2) in 27 states.

In a statement issued by National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, and signed by the Dr Faisal Shuaib, the Executive Director, made available to journalists in Abuja, he said there was no outbreak and no case of Wild Polio Virus (WPV) reported anywhere in the country since the last case in 2016.

“The attention of NPHCDA and Development Partners has been drawn to reports in some sections of the media claiming that there is an outbreak of a new polio virus in some states. For the avoidance of doubt, no case of Wild Polio Virus (WPV) has been reported anywhere in the country since the last case in 2016. We currently have 395 cases of Circulating Mutant Poliovirus Type 2 (cMPV2) across 27 states and the FCT.

“Nigeria and the African region were certified Wild Polio Virus (WPV) free in 2020, following a rigorous verification and certification process by the African Regional Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication (ARCC) which spanned three years of no detection of WPV. Till date, there has been no case of WPV anywhere in the country,” the statement read.

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He continued, “cMPV2 outbreaks are caused by immunity gaps in children due to several reasons, including low routine immunization coverage, and missing children during immunization campaigns. The suspension of several polio campaigns and other health programmes in 2020, as well as disruptions to routine immunization because of the COVID-19 pandemic, created further immunity gaps which led to new and wider outbreaks, and further increased transmission of the circulating mutant poliovirus both globally and within Nigeria.

“The viruses thrive in areas with poor sanitation, open defecation, and inadequate access to clean drinking water. These have allowed the virus to be easily transmitted from one person to another through contaminated water and poor sewage disposal. Malnutrition occasioned by increasing poverty is also a predisposing factor in exposed children. These non-wild polio viruses which originated because of normal changes in the reproduction of viruses in the environment are not as virulent as WPV and are also being reported in many other countries.

“Working with our Donors and Development Partners, Nigeria has already acquired new tools and resources to ensure the outbreaks are contained through very robust outbreak responses using the novel Oral Polio Vaccine (nOPV2) which has been shown to be effective in halting the spread of the cMPV2. All 36 States and FCT have completed at least one nOPV2 Outbreak Response (OBR). Several other rounds of the OBR as well as other campaigns to improve the mucosal immunity of children aged o-5 years old using Injectable Polio Vaccine (IPV) have also been planned for this year. Efforts are also being ramped up to increase routine immunization coverage beyond pre-COVID values,” he continued.

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NPHCDA therefore assures Nigerians that the Agency and Partners will continue to conduct surveillance and vaccination campaigns to prevent and contain any possible importation of the Wild Polio Virus into the country.

He therefore urged parents and caregivers to bring their children for routine immunization against vaccine preventable diseases.

CRIME

Man, 25 Commits Suicide in Kwara over Inability to Pay Debt

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From Alfred Babs, Ilorin

A 25 year old man whose name was given as Olakunle Obaoye was allegedly found hanging in a bush at Erinmope Village near Ayedun in Oke Ero Local Government Area of Kwara state on Monday.

The deceased according to family sources allegedly killed himself over depression occasioned by his inability to pay debts that he owed some people.

The Kwara State Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) which confirmed the incident said that the deceased was found dead in a bush on Monday.

The Command’s public relations officer Babawale Afolabi said in a statement on Tuesday that the deceased elder brother reported the incident to it office.

“On Monday 17/01/2022:at about 1200 hours one Thomas Obaoye of Ayedun town went to our divisional office in the area to notify our men on ground about the demise of his brother Olakunle Obaoye, 25, whose lifeless body was found hanging on the tree in what look like a suicide

“Following the report, NSCDC men from Ayedun Division later went to the scene of the incident and worked together with the relatives of the victim to bring down his corpse from the tree.

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“The dead body was later handed over to the family for proper burial”, he said.

Babawale said that the matter had been handed over to the police for further investigations and necessary actions.

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COVID-19 Vaccine: Covax Leads Supply Operation – WHO

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The World Health Organization, WHO, has revealed that COVAX with its billionth dose supply to Rwanda, it is the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history,

In a statement issued by WHO and made available to newsmen in Abuja, said a shipment of 1.

1 million COVID-19 vaccines to Rwanda included the billionth dose supplied via COVAX.

“Together with our partners, COVAX is leading the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history, with deliveries to 144 countries to date.

“But the work that has gone into this milestone is only a reminder of the work that remains.

“As of 13 January 2022, out of 194 Member States, 36 WHO Member States have vaccinated less than 10% of their population, and 88 less than 40%.

“COVAX’s ambition was compromised by hoarding/stockpiling in rich countries, catastrophic outbreaks leading to borders and supply being locked. And a lack of sharing of licenses, technology and knowhow by pharmaceutical companies meant manufacturing capacity went unused.

“COVAX is working with governments, manufacturers and partners to ensure that when countries receive vaccines they can get them to people quickly,” the statement read.

The world noted that with updated vaccines in the pipeline, now is the moment for all citizens to demand that governments & pharmaceutical companies share health tools globally & bring an end to the death & destruction cycles of this pandemic, limit new variants and drive a global economic recovery.

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COVID-19: Omicron Pandemic Has Flattened – WHO

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The World Health Organisation, WHO, has said that the Omicron-fueled COVID-19 pandemic fourth wave in Africa has flattened after a six-week surge, marking the shortest-lived surge to date in the continent where cumulative cases have now exceeded 10 million.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, who stated this during a virtual press conference, said that even though the continent appears to be weathering the latest pandemic wave, vaccination rates remain low as just around 10 percent of Africa’s population has been fully vaccinated.

Early indications suggest that Africa’s fourth wave has been steep and brief but no less destabilizing.

The crucial pandemic countermeasure badly needed in Africa still stands, and that is rapidly and significantly increasing COVID-19 vaccinations. The next wave might not be so forgiving. 

“This year should mark a turning point in Africa’s COVID-19 vaccination drive. With vast swaths of the population still unvaccinated, our chances of limiting the emergence and impact of deadly variants are frighteningly slim.

We have the know-how and the tools and with a concerted push we can certainly tip the balance against the pandemic,” Moeti argued.

In countries experiencing a surge in cases, WHO observed that the fast-spreading Omicron variant has become the dominant type.

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The global health body said while it took around four weeks for the Delta variant to surpass the previously dominant Beta, Omicron outpaced Delta within two weeks in the worst-hit African countries.

“So far 30 African countries—and at least 142 globally—have detected the Omicron variant. The Delta variant has been reported in 42 countries in Africa.”

According to Moeti, as of 11 January, there have been 10.2 million COVID-19 cases in Africa. Weekly cases plateaued in the seven days to 9 January from the week before. Southern Africa, which saw a huge increase in infections during the pandemic wave, recorded a 14 percent decline in infections over the past week. South Africa, where Omicron was first reported, saw a 9 percent fall in weekly infections.

“East and Central Africa regions also experienced a drop. However, North and West Africa are witnessing a rise in cases, with North Africa reporting a 121 percent increase this past week compared with the previous one.

“Across the continent, though, deaths rose by 64 percent in the seven days ending on 9 January compared with the week before mainly due to infections among people at high risk. Nonetheless, deaths in the fourth wave are lower than in the previous waves. Hospitalizations have remained low.

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“In South Africa, for instance, around 9 percent of its over 5,600 intensive care unit beds are currently occupied by COVID-19 patients.

“Testing, which is crucial to COVID-19 detection and surveillance—including genomic, rose modestly by 1.6 percent over the past week with over 90 million—mostly polymerase chain reaction (PCR)—tests carried out across the continent. Twenty-three countries recorded a high positivity rate of over 10 percent over the past week.”

She noted that in West Africa where COVID-19 cases are on the rise, the number of Omicron sequences undertaken by countries including Cabo Verde, Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal is growing. In Cabo Verde and Nigeria, Omicron is currently the dominant variant.

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