FG Threatens Travel Ban On Defaulting VIPs, Govt Officials

By Sunday Isuwa, Bode Gbadebo, Achor Abimaje  |

The federal government has threatened to impose a travel ban on very important persons (VIPs) and government officials flouting COVID-19 protocols.

It said all VIPs and government officials that violated the protocols will undergo compulsory COVID-19 tests.

The national coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, who stated this yesterday in a video posted by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture on its Twitter handle, said people must change their behaviours.

He stated: “We want to change people’s behaviour. We’ve shown that we are going to do it. We have done it and we will continue to do it every week until things change. It is not like we want to punish people but if you continue to put our country at risk, we will take action.

“Next week, we will publish another 100, subsequent weeks, we will continue to publish until we see an improvement in terms of the compliance. So, whether you are a VIP, whether you are a government official, whether you are in a leadership position, if you do not follow the travel protocols, there will be repercussions.

“We do not publish names because the essence of doing the entire exercise is to force people to comply with our protocols”.

The federal government had last week released the passport numbers of 100 travelers who failed to undergo COVID-19 tests after returning into the country.


China Denies WHO Team Entry To Investigate Origin Of Virus

Meanwhile, China has blocked the arrival of a team from the World Health Organisation (WHO) sent to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic which allegedly started in Wuhan in 2019.

The Chinese government denied the WHO team entry into that country on the ground that the visas of the team members were yet to be approved.

WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who was not pleased with China’s blockage, expressed dismay over the development.

In a statement issued yesterday, he urged China to allow the WHO team to enter the country.

Ghebreyesus said, “I’m very disappointed with this news, given that two members have already begun their journeys, and others were not able to travel at the last minute”.

“But I have been in contact with senior Chinese officials. And I have once again made it clear that the mission is a priority for WHO and the international team”.

For the past few months, WHO has been attempting to send a team of health experts from across the world to China.

The organisation has been engaged in talks with Chinese government since July regarding this.

Scientists have repeatedly stated that finding out how the virus jumped species into humans is extremely essential, according to The Guardian.

The WHO team was expected to visit Wuhan where the first cases of the virus had emerged in 2019. The team also intends to investigate the claim that the coronavirus originated from a Chinese lab.

Dr Mike Ryan who works for WHO has stated that the team had been working very closely with their Chinese colleagues for planning the trip to China.

Meanwhile, WHO) has said it is in countries’ self-interest to shun vaccine nationalism and work toward equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, noting that people must come first over short-term profits.

WHO’s director-general, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, said this at the first COVID-19 news conference for the year at WHO headquarters in Geneva.

Vaccine nationalism is when a country manages to secure doses of vaccines for its own citizens and prioritises its own domestic markets before they are made available in other countries.

This is done through pre-purchase agreements between a government and a vaccine manufacturer.

In a series of tweets posted on the UN health agency twitter account @WHO, Ghebreyesus also urged all governments to be committed to equitable distribution of the vaccine.

“I urge all governments to work together and live up to their commitments to equitable distribution globally and all pharmaceutical groups to boost supply as quickly as possible and to fully participate in COVAX,’’ he said.


Atiku Vaccinated In Dubai

Meanwhile, former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, was yesterday vaccinated with the Pfizer’s vaccine in the United Arab Emirates.

The People’s Democratic Party’s presidential candidate in the 2019 general elections was said to have taken the dose in Dubai to prevent symptomatic cases of COVID-19.

Pfizer’s vaccine, when administered in its full two-dose regimen, was found to be 95 percent effective at preventing symptomatic cases of Covid-19.

The effectiveness rate of the vaccine was hailed as very welcome news amid soaring coronavirus caseloads.


EU Regulator Approves Moderna Vaccine

Meanwhile, the European Union’s drug regulator yesterday approved the Moderna coronavirus jab, the bloc’s second and a shot in the arm for Europe’s slow-moving vaccine roll-out.

In a long-awaited decision, the Amsterdam-based European Medicines Agency gave the green light for the US firm’s vaccine for use on people over 18.

Criticism has mounted of the EU’s sluggish start to its vaccination campaign since the first vaccine by Pfizer-BioNTech was authorised in late December.

Europe is lagging far behind the United States, Britain and Israel in terms of numbers of people vaccinated, with COVID-19 cases soaring across the continent.

Plateau Records 43 Deaths As 5,174 Test Positive

Meanwhile, Plateau State commissioner For Health, Dr Nenkong Lar, has disclosed that the state recorded 43 deaths and 5,174 people who tested positive for COVID-19.

According to him, 43 deaths were recorded as a result of the pandemic, noting that the state had been carrying out test in three laboratories, including National Veterinary Research Institute Vom, Plateau State Specialist Hospital and the TB reference centre at old Jos University Teaching Hospital JUTH.

He pointed out that there are mobile and conventional courts to try those who violated COVID-19 protocols, while a test is being carried out to confirm new cases and to refer them to isolation centres for treatment.

Dr Lar further said the state was not contemplating closing down isolation centres, stressing that the health workers at the Laboratories and isolation centres are fully kitted to avoid transmission of the virus to them.


 Police Arraign Government Officials, Trader For Stealing Palliatives

Meanwhile, the police have arraigned two officials of the Oyo State government before a Chief Magistrate Court, Ibadan, for allegedly stealing and selling 40 bags of sugar from the state’s COVID-19 palliatives store.

A trader who allegedly sold the stolen palliatives to one Kafayat Babalola was also arraigned alongside the government officials.

The officials and the trader were charged with conspiracy, stealing, and receiving of stolen goods.

The defendants are a 50-year-old driver, Adebiyi Azeez, and Sunday Akinleye, a 43-year-old Assistant Protocol Officer in charge of palliatives at the ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.

The prosecutor, Sunday Ogunremi, told the court that the offence was committed on December 30.

He said, “Adebiyi and Akinleye stole 40 bags of Dangote Sugar, valued at N60,000, being COVID-19 palliatives and property of the Oyo State Government.

“The duo used the official vehicle of the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs to convey the goods to the buyer.

“The third defendant, Mrs Kafayat Babalola, a trader at Agbeni market, Ibadan, received the 40 bags of sugar, knowing that they were not for sale, being the property of the state government.”

Read the Source post on Leadership Newspaper.