The total number of Germany’s coronavirus deaths crossed 40,000 on Sunday, as Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that the coming weeks would be “the hardest” yet.
Germany recorded 465 deaths over the past 24 hours, the Robert Koch Institute for disease control said, raising the toll since the start of the pandemic to 40,343.
More than 1.9 million people have been infected so far, with almost 17,000 new cases added since Saturday.
In her weekly video message on Saturday, Merkel said the full impact of socialising over the Christmas and New Year’s period was yet to show up in the statistics.
She warned Germans that “these next winter weeks will be the hardest phase of the pandemic” so far, with many doctors and medical staff working at their limits.
Germany fared better than many other European countries during the first Covid-19 wave in the spring but it has been hit hard by the second wave.
The nation of 83 million people, the bloc’s most populous, has imposed another round of restrictions to limit social contacts and help hospitals cope with a surge in patients.
More than 5,000 Covid-19 patients are currently in intensive care nationwide, with over 80 percent of intensive care beds occupied.
Germany has closed schools and non-essential shops, culture and leisure facilities until at least January 31 in hope of slowing the outbreak.
Like other EU nations, it started vaccinating citizens against Covid-19 in late December using the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.
More than half a million people have received the jab so far.
A second vaccine, developed by US firm Moderna, will join the rollout in the coming days.
– ‘Absolutely necessary’ –
Merkel acknowledged the vaccine campaign had got off to a slow start, “but the tempo will pick up”, she said.
“What’s important is that we can say: we will have enough of the vaccine available for everyone in Germany,” she added.
“Month after month we will inoculate more people and eventually we will be able to offer the vaccine to anyone who wants it.”
Merkel said the vaccines allowed for “justified hope” that the world could conquer the pandemic.
But she urged Germans to stay patient and said she was “firmly convinced” the current tough curbs on public life are “absolutely necessary”.
A survey by the Kantar research group for Bild am Sonntag newspaper found that 56 percent of Germans agreed with the latest measures to stem the virus spread.
Another 25 percent of respondents said the restrictions did not go far enough.
Just 16 percent said the rules were too strict.
FG okays N9.4bn for power, road projects in FCT, Oyo, Ogun
The Federal Government has approved a total of N9.4 billion for various projects including power and road in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Oyo and Ogun States.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed after the Federal Executive Council(FEC) meeting on Wednesday disclosed that the sum of N1.14 billion was approved for the award of contract for the installation of solar street lighting for the Karshi-Jikwoyi dual carriage road in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Mohammed added the contract was awarded to Messrs Bassman Nigeria Limited for a completion period of six months.
“This is a 20-kilometre street lighting project and the area hosts some very strategic institutions such as the Treasury Academy, the new Correctional Center which is under construction and it also houses the Federal Science College, the Armed Forces Post Service Housing Scheme in addition to Police Housing Scheme among others.
“Apart from beautifying the area, it also provides better security for the area. It means the SDG goal number 11 will be met and at the same time the global energy policy,” the minister explained.
Also, the Minister of State for Power, Godwin Jedy-Agba informed that the council gave approval for a 124.3 million variation of contract towards the construction of sub-station project in Lanlate, Oyo State, and Abeokuta, Ogun State.
He stressed that this implies that the national metering programme directive by the President, will soon be completed and services will improve.
Niyi Adebayo, who is the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, also revealed that FEC approved the National Quality Policy.
The policy, according to him, will see to the establishment of quality testing centers and laboratories in the country to reinforce quality in exported goods.
“This policy will create a situation whereby the government and the private sector will be able to collaborate to set up quality testing centres, testing labs which we hope will have accreditation with international centres, such that any good that has approved to have met the standard, would be of international standard,” he said.
Makinde meets Buhari, demands more Mobile Police Squadrons in Oyo
Oyo state governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde on Wednesday, met with President Muhammadu Buhari to discuss the security situation in the state, just as he reechoed that his administration remains resolute about fighting bandits, hoodlums, armed robbers and kidnappers.
Governor Makinde, who addressed State House Correspondents in Abuja, the nation’s capital insisted that the real enemies of the state are the criminal elements.
While requesting for more Mobile Police Squadrons to be deployed to Oyo, the governor equally sought for greater synergy between the state and the federal security agencies, noting that collaborations are required for the state’s security plans to work effectively.
Makinde told the newsmen that he was in Abuja to brief the President on the security situation in Oyo.
“I came to brief the President on the security situation in Oyo State. There has been a lot of fake news all around and I wanted to be sure that the President clearly has first-hand information from me, which I did.
“We also exchanged ideas about what we need to do better; some of the programmes we have put in place to ensure that this security issue is tackled. So, that’s basically why I came here.
“The issue that I discussed with Mr. President is the fact that Oyo State landmass is quite big. Oyo State is close to 29,000 square kilometres. And the state right now only has two Mobile Police Squadrons.
“So, I requested for more Mobile Police Squadrons to be deployed to Oyo State and also asked for support for the joint security outfit because the underlying issue here also has to do with limited opportunities. The tension will definitely go down if a lot of our youths are gainfully employed. So, I briefed the President on what we are doing in that regard.
“We have a history of living together peacefully among all the ethnic groups that are present in Oyo State. For instance, what triggered all of these was that Dr. Aborode was brutally murdered; that is criminal. But on the other hand, the Seriki, Alhaji Kabir, has been staying in that same place for 40 years. So, quite frankly, the people we are after are criminals – they are the bandits, hoodlums, armed robbers, kidnappers. Those are the true enemies of the state and those are the people we will go after.
“The Constitution of Nigeria guarantees that you can live in any part of Nigeria. You just have to be law-abiding and obey the local laws in such areas. That is what we are pushing and will continue to push as a government”, Governor Makinde said.
‘I can’t be blackmailed, no more business as usual’ – FCC boss, Dankaka spits fire
The Executive Chairman, Federal Character Commission (FCC), Dr Muheeba Dankaka, has said nobody can blackmail her over sponsored false and fabricated stories to smear the Commission and her name, in her quest to return sanity to the system.
Dankaka also warned the purveyors of the fake news to get used to ‘no more business as usual’ as indeed the Commission has entered a new dispensation.
According to her, the Commissioners cannot work in isolation, stressing that the Directors and Career officers will join in the smooth operation of the Commission
The FCC boss, in a statement released on Tuesday and made available to newsmen in Abuja, by the Commission’s Director of Public Affairs & Communication, Dipo Akinsola, disclosed that no fewer than thirty commissioners are currently working in harmony to bring positive changes. She added that under her watch, the Commission has recorded successes in all areas and centralized the administrative structure of the monitoring and enforcement department.
The statement reads, “My attention has been drawn to a social media report in circulation in which it is alleged that some commissioners accused me of holding them to ransom by taking over their jobs and giving same to Directors with impunity. Over 30 Honourable Commissioners are currently working in harmony with me in bringing positive changes.
“Five of the Commissioners are fighting for their personal and selfish interests; they want business as usual in the Commission which is not possible under my watch. The contents of the publication are false and mere fabricated stories to dent my image and that of the commission through social media.”
Dankaka, in the statement, also revealed that the monthly monitoring allowance of Commissioners has been embedded into their monthly salaries as approved by the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RAMFAC).
“These allegations are not true in all areas. We assumed office during the peak of the terrifying COVID-19 which slows down the operation of government generally.
“We thank God that there is an improvement in the allocation to the Commission by President Muhammadu Buhari, once the implementation of the year’s budget commences, there will be an improvement in the activities of the commission”, Dankaka assured.
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