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Oyo task force discovers COVID-19 case in college, locks in school

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The Oyo State Task Force has discovered a COVID-19 case in a tertiary institution in the state.

Also, the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) of the Task Force had immediately ordered a lock-in of the affected tertiary institution to keep staff, students and the general public safe.

It has further directed the management of schools, workplaces and religious centres to ensure strict compliance with established protocols aimed at curtailing the Coronavirus disease.

Continuing , the Task Force, in a statement on Saturday, declared its readiness to shut down any institution, religious centre or workplace that violates the rules on the use of closed space settings, whether at schools, religious or social settings, adding that the general public is equally advised to remain vigilant.

The EOC in a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, informed that it has  kick-started contact tracing, while subjecting every possible contact to necessary surveillance, the statement added.

“The government of Oyo State wishes to draw the  attention of the general public to the recent resurgence of cases of coronavirus in the State. 

“Many of these cases were discovered in closed space settings such as offices and other workplaces.

“A reported case within a tertiary educational institution had also resulted in more cases being discovered through contact tracing. 

“The state government has taken appropriate steps to lock in the institution to prevent further spread and put in place other preventive measures. 

“Contact tracing has been intensified and the Emergency Operations Centre is working with the institution concerned to ensure that all students and staff of the institution are safe and well,” the statement read.

It added that there is no need to panic, as according to the statement, all necessary protocols needed for effective management and psychosocial support have been instituted.  

The statement added that “the Oyo State, as a responsive  and responsible Government, wishes to  admonish all residents to ensure due compliance with the directives and all COVID-19 prevention protocols as earlier stipulated, to enable a successful limitation of  virus transmission.

“The Task Force essentially wishes to implore considerable restraint at closed gatherings and environments especially in closed educational, religious and social environments. 

“It is important to note that these measures are not in any way punitive but are essentially aimed at protecting the lives of all and sundry from the menace of the virus as well as prevent the spread of the virus within our communities,” the Task Force said.

The statement further read: “All hygienic practices associated with the preventive protocols are to be properly adhered to, while the utilization of safety devices as well as social distancing should also be upheld.

“In Oyo State, the slogan has been ‘own your action’ #OYA. 

“It is expected that each and everyone of us takes responsibility for our actions in this pandemic, as such actions will have a collective impact on our lives.”

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Nigeria to receive about 4m doses of COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday

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The Nigerian government has confirmed that it will receive the first tranche of the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday.

Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha  disclosed this on Saturday in Abuja, the Nation’s capital. 

Boss Mustapha, who also doubles as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), explained that the first shipment of  3,924,000 million doses of covid-19 vaccines is coming from COVAX, a World Health Organization (WHO) backed initiative set up to procure and ensure equitable distribution of vaccines for free among countries across the globe.

“I can assure you that the vaccines are coming and they are coming very quickly barring any change in the delivery plan that has been released to us by UNICEF,” the SGF said, exactly one year after the virus was reported in the West African nation.

The SGF continued , “We believe that our vaccines should depart India on the 1st of March, 2021 at 10:30 pm and arrive in Abuja on the 2nd of March by 11:10 am.”

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire had earlier confirmed that Nigeria will be getting the COVAX vaccine in March, and explained that the Federal Government is targeting to vaccinate 70 percent of the population. 

“We have been told to open an account with Afreximbank under the African Union; we have done that already successfully because we are going to pay for that part of the vaccine. The COVAX vaccine is free, at no cost to us, it is made from donations,” the minister had explained during a briefing with journalists

“We want to immunise about 60 to 70% of our population. If COVAX immunises 20, then we have about 40 to 50 to immunise within the next two years”,  he said

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Why the US has the highest COVID-19 death toll

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The United States crossed the grim milestone of 500,000 deaths from COVID-19 on Monday, a year since announcing its first known death from the virus on February 29, 2020 in the Seattle area.

Why does the world’s leading power have the highest death toll and what lessons are American health specialists learning from the past year?

Here, infectious disease experts Joseph Masci and Michele Halpern provide answers to some of the key questions.

Masci, 70, is one of the leaders of Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, which was at the heart of New York’s epidemic.

Halpern is a specialist at the Montefiore hospital group in New Rochelle, a New York suburb where the epidemic arrived in force in February 2020.

– Why has the United States been hit so hard? –

Prior to this pandemic, the United States observed coronaviruses “from a distance,” explained Masci.

“There was SARS in Canada but very little or none in this country. There was no MERS here at all,” he said.

“There was a lot of preparation made for Ebola coming to the United States, and it never really did.

“Suddenly this (coronavirus) was a problem where the United States was the epicenter.”

Masci said it was difficult to compare the United States with other countries.

“I think smaller countries that had structured health care services had a good chance of bringing things into play quickly.

“In a country like ours, with 50 independent states, and a huge landmass, with largely a private hospital system, it is always going to be difficult to get everybody on board with one particular set of strategies,” he explained.

Masci added that Donald Trump’s administration had a “haphazard approach”, which did not help.

“The fact that hospitals were competing with each other to get personal protective equipment didn’t make sense. They had to centralize all of that very quickly and they didn’t.

“It was a struggle to try to deal with those obstacles that were put up,” he said.

Masci and Halpern rue that mask-wearing was politicized.

“It’s purely a health care issue,” said Masci, adding that it is going to be difficult for the federal government to “reframe” that message.

Halpern insists that people should not see mask-wearing as “infringing” on their freedom.

“There are other things we do routinely that you could say infringe our liberties like wearing a seatbelt or running through a red light,” she said.

According to the Johns Hopkins University tally, another 1,297 virus-related deaths were reported on Monday in the United States.

– What are the main lessons to be learned from the crisis? –

For Masci, the most important lesson was to learn how to reconfigure hospitals to make them able to cope with a sudden influx of patients.

“Now… instead of 12 hot ICU beds, you have to have 150. Where do you get them? Who do you staff on with? So now we’ve learned this lesson.” he said.

Masci said the group of public hospitals of which Elmhurst is a part found strategies to distribute the burden among NYC’s 11 public hospitals by transferring patients very quickly.

“We’ve turned from one hospital with 500 beds, to 11 hospitals with about 5,000 beds. It’s worked very nicely.”

More generally, Halpern says the pandemic has made everyone realize that “hospitals need resources.”

“You have to invest in research, but you also have to invest in hospitals, in nursing homes. They have to have enough staff, they have to have the equipment that they need and the personnel has to be happy,” she added.

The epidemic has also sharply exposed inequalities, not just in health care but also in housing, with Black and Latino communities dying in disproportionately high numbers.

“We have to look at housing, and how it can be better suited to handling future epidemics. There are others coming,” said Masci.

– Will we still be wearing masks in December? –

Vaccines are rolling out but health experts are cautious due to uncertainties surrounding the British and South African variants of the virus.

Masci says that if the variant strains don’t turn into a huge problem and once we’ve reached the point where 70-80 percent of the population is vaccinated then “there’s a good chance” we won’t wear masks anymore.

“(But) suppose these variant strains do take hold, become more of a problem, are vaccine resistant, and we’re all closing schools and putting masks and locking down again in a few months, (then) it’s a lot harder to say by December, ‘We’ll be out of the woods.’”

Halpern says it’s reassuring that the second wave was largely controlled, in New York at least.

“I have hopes that the vaccines will be effective and will tamper future waves. But it’s hard to be sure whether our vaccines will be effective in the longer term, or on new variants. I don’t think anyone knows that.

“So we have to be prepared that we’re in this for a while,” she said.

In the long term, Masci says countries must not “fall into the trap” of forgetting about the pandemic once it has passed.

“It is unnerving to think that this came without warning. It’s caused so much restructuring of everything.

“We have to have a more meticulous global search for new pathogens because we’re living in a time now where there is no, ‘Something is happening in Asia and it’s not going to happen in America.’”

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Ghana Parliament shuts as 17 legislators, 151 staff contract COVID-19

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Ghana’s parliament has suspended most of its activities for three weeks over a surge in cases of COVID-19 among lawmakers and parliamentary staff.

It was learnt that no fewer than 17 members of parliament and 151 supporting staff have been infected with the coronavirus, which had already forced lawmakers to limit their assembly meetings.

The Speaker of the House, Alban Bagbin, who confirmed the development, on Tuesday also announced  that the legislature will be in recess until March 2 to make way for “disinfection and sanitisation of the premises.”

The Speaker said, “I have, in consultation with leadership, decided that sitting of the House be adjourned for three weeks”.

Ghana has confirmed a total of 73,003 coronavirus cases resulting in 482 deaths and over 65,000 recoveries.

President Nana Akufo-Addo has banned large social gatherings such as funerals, weddings and parties and the country’s land and sea borders have remained closed to human traffic since March 2020.

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