Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Fred Itua, Fred Ezeh, Abuja, TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt and Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
The Federal Government has disclosed that Madagascar herbal product has not shown any curative powers for COVID-19.
Nigeria received five cartons of samples of the herbal tea in May before they were handed over to the Ministry of Health.
Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said at yesterday’s briefing of the PTF that the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) has shared its final report on the evaluation of the COVID Organics from Madagascar.
“The initial report had showed that its main ingredient is the same as Artemisia anua. While the preparation at high dose showed activity in reducing the frequency of cough, it did not show any evidence that it has real curative properties against COVID-19. However, we shall continue to support all genuine efforts towards finding local COVID-19 cures.”
Vaccines: We must not left behind
As laboratories around the world race to produce a vaccine to help end the worst health crisis in over a century, Ehanire said Nigeria and indeed the continent must join the scramble to get the potential COVID-19 vaccines.
According to him, Africa has an initiative to ensure the continent is not left behind in getting COVID-19 vaccines when out.
The UK government has announced it secured deals for 90 million doses of two possible COVID-19 vaccines from the collaboration of Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech, and French group Valneva.
The UK announced that it has secured 30 million doses of the experimental BioNtech/Pfizer vaccine and a deal in principle for 60 million doses of the Valveva vaccine, with an option of 40 million more doses if it was proven to be safe, effective and suitable.
German firm, BioNTech also disclosed this week that the United States government is set to pay almost $2 billion for 100 million doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine.
BioNTech, which is developing the drug with US pharma giant Pfizer, said in a statement Wednesday that Americans will receive the future vaccine for free in line with the Trump administration’s “commitment for free access for COVID-19 vaccines.”
It said under the agreement, the US government has placed an initial order for 100 million doses to be delivered if regulatory approval was granted.
Policemen fire gunshots, sack FCT Mobile Court for arresting colleagues
Gunmen suspected to be policemen reportedly fired shots to disperse the FCT Mobile Court trying violators of the COVID-19 safety protocols in Dei-Dei, a suburb of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), yesterday.
The incident, which happened at about noon, was said to have thrown residents into confusion. The magistrate, prosecutors and other officials scampered to safety.
Trouble reportedly started when personnel of the FCT Ministerial Joint Enforcement Task-team on COVID-19 restrictions arrested a policeman who gave his name as Agada Gabriel for not wearing a face mask in public and overloading his vehicle.
The culprit who was arrested around the premises of the court was said to have called on his colleague, a certain Smart Jacob to help him resist his arraignment.
However, the two were subsequently charged for overloading and non-use of face masks and sentenced accordingly. But they were said to have refused to pay their fines or engage in community service as directed by the court.
The two were said to have mobilised gunmen from the Mobile Police Barracks in Dei-Dei who stormed the court and shot sporadically.
While the Presiding Magistrate, Theresa Otu, Court Prosecutor, Emmanuel T. Yatsegha and other court officials including a Correctional Service Personnel scampered to safety, the policemen reportedly dismantled the court’s canopy and vowed that they would no longer allow any court sitting in the area.
When journalists got to the area, normalcy had been restored, but a female personnel of the Nigerian Correctional Service NCoS attached to the court was seen lamenting the loss of her mobile phone and handbag containing valuables.
Chairman of the Task-team, Ikharo Attah, said he had been adequately briefed about the development and expressed confidence in the ability of the FCT Commissioner of Police, Bala Ciroma, to apprehend the erring personnel and mete out appropriate sanctions.
Attah had in April lamented the general lack of compliance to the safety protocols stating that most of the serial violators were uniformed personnel.
PAN, NGO kick against schools’ resumption
Paediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN) and the Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace (IDFP) have condemned the Federal Government’s decision to reopen schools in the face of rising cases in the country.
Paediatricians said it was obvious that Nigerian healthcare system was ill-equipped to absorb sudden surges in cases of COVID-19 in schools in the country and demanded that schools remain shut until conditions are safe.
PAN’s position was contained in a statement in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, by its president, Prof. Edward Alikor and Secretary, Dr. Petronila Tabansi.
The group said the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Education, should study and learn the situation in other countries that reopened schools before taking it decision on resumption.
“Figures from Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), show exponential rise in COVID-19 incidence and deaths. It would appear that Nigeria has, at this time, not reached its peak incidence of the pandemic. We are still learning about the effect of COVID-19 in the human body, including the long-term effect of the virus in various organs, even in asymptomatic carriers including children. Ghana which reopened its schools three weeks ago has reported 55 new COVID-19 cases in students of Accra Girls Senior High School alone within two weeks of reopening. Consequently, PAN supports the continued closure of Nigerian schools and urges that the schools should remain closed until conditions are safe.
“The minimum criterion for considering the reopening of schools in Nigeria should be a steady and consistent decline in the spread of COVID-19 in most parts of the country. It is then and only then, we believe, that the other criteria as laid down by the Guidelines for Schools and Learning Facilities Reopening after COVID-19 pandemic closures can now be considered. PAN observes, with surprise, the absence of public health physicians, infectious disease experts and other child and adolescent healthcare specialists among the stakeholders listed as having been consulted in arriving at the decision to possibly reopen schools in September, 2020.”
While cautioning the Federal Government not to be in a hurry to reopen schools, the state chairman of IDFP and Deputy National Board of Trustee, Eze Abdulfatah Chimaeze Emetumah, said it would be great danger allowing schools to reopen when the cases were “increasing as the day goes by.”
According to Emetumah, who is also the traditional ruler of Umuofor Kingdom, “it’s a risk reopening schools now. If the death rate is reduced, I would have suggested that the schools should be reopened but whereby they are increasing, it should remain close, we should not subject our children to health hazards.”
Governor Hope Uzodimma, represented by his Senior Special Assistant on Northern affairs and Vulnerable groups, Hajiya Fatimah Hamza, commended IDFP for taking the sensitisation of the COVID-19 pandemic message to the grassroots.
Things getting unbearable, say private school teachers
The National Association of Private School Teachers (NAPST), the umbrella body of private teachers in Nigeria, has raised the alarm that things were getting unbearable due to the prolonged closure of schools.
NAPST President, Akhigbe Augustine, who addressed a press conference in Abuja, disclosed that since the closure of schools in March, private school teachers have not been paid their monthly salaries and thus solicited government and philanthropic interventions for teachers.
“A good number of private school teachers were last paid in February. The closure of schools for the whole of third term of 2019/2020 academic session means that no tuition payment, and obviously, salaries for months running will not be paid also.
“Obviously, private school teachers are facing difficult times with no hope in sight as of when the lockdown on schools will be lifted. The States and Federal Government have not considered private school teachers as a group that deserves palliatives whereas they are in the group of vulnerable Nigerians.
“In reality, over 100, 000 families of private school teachers, most especially where both husband and wife are private school teachers, are unable to feed their families and cannot pay basic bills.
“Private schools in Nigeria do not receive government subventions. They rely solely on tuition payments. More often than not, salaries are not paid as at when due. Hence, apart from underpayment, private school teachers in Nigeria also have to contend with the issue of delay in monthly payment of their entitlements.”
Aso Rock clinic scales down public access due to lean budget
Dwindling resources leading to a lean budgetary allocation has forced the State House Clinic to announce plans to scale down the number of persons authorised to access medical attention at the Asokoro facility in Abuja.
The Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar, made this disclosure at the opening of a two-day workshop on service improvement in the hospital.
The clinic was specifically established to provide health care services to the President and Vice President, members of their families as well as members of staff working in the Presidential Villa. The clinic currently caters to about 32,000 patients which the authorities said “is not sustainable.”
Umar said “hangers-on” will be eliminated while services will only be extended to those who are officially entitled to access the health care facility.
According to him, a renewed zeal to enforce this became necessary after a meeting of stakeholders to bring back the clinic to it’s original status of efficient service to those who are entitled to access the facility.
Umar said, “We are going to trim down the number of unentitled people. Unentitled bringing constraints to us, bringing issues, that’s all. If you have give children in your house neighbours send like 20 every evening to come, your pot will not be enough. That’s what we are saying.
He said “this will assist us to look at those areas requiring improvement,” adding that “the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.”