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FEC Approves N8.49b For COVID-19 Testing Equipment

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The Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday approved N8.49 billion for the purchase of 12 testing equipment containing large quantities of items, including sample collection material kits to fight COVID-19.

Briefing reporters at the end of the 11th virtual FEC meeting in the State House, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osage Ehanire, said the Presidential Task Force (PTF) approved the resources for the use of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

According to him, plans had been made to establish sample collection centres in each of the 774 local government areas of the country with a view to ensuring that residents of rural communities are not left to their fate in the fight of COVID-19.

He said: “This memo is as a result of Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 pandemic and special intervention fund for COVID-19 which is operated by the Presidential Task Force. It allocates these resources for NCDC’s preparedness.

“So, we are procuring testing materials right from sample materials to other kits’ diagnostics in our laboratory systems, to be able to respond properly to the community transmission phase.

“We have already made plans to have at least one sample collection center in every local government, minimum of 774 and these resources will be necessary to go around the 774 local government areas, to ensure that persons in rural areas and small towns are not excluded and to ensure that not only the big cities are the ones that are being attended to. So, that is the basis for the memo. The cost is N8.49 billion to procure the items that are involved. There are a total of 12 items, the quantities involved are large numbers which will be sent out later,” he said.

Asked why both the PTF and the Ministry of Health have been reluctant in introducing rapid test kits which can make results of COVID-19 tests available within 10 minutes, the minister who admitted that test kits are used all over the world, gave various reasons for not approving their use in Nigeria.

According to him, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other medical experts are opposed to rapid test diagnosis as a result of beliefs that it is not reliable because it produces a number of false-positive or false-negative results.

The minister who said the level of accuracy of the rapid diagnosis and otherwise, through the use of rapid test kits, is between the ratio of 60:40, said a diagnosis which produces a 60 percent accuracy rate and 40 percent inaccurate results call for caution.

Submitting that the results of polymerise chain reaction (PCR) tests, on the other hand, are reliable, the minister, however, said the Medical Laboratory Science of Nigeria is currently verifying the rapid diagnosis with a view to ascertaining whether it is reliable or not
He, nevertheless, expressed optimism that as efforts are being made to improve on a rapid diagnostic test, in a matter of months, it will eventually, be introduced into the system.

He said: “It is not that nobody is thinking of rapid diagnostic test, it is being used all over the world even in Nigeria today but the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other experts have said that this test is not very reliable and that it also delivered a significant number of false-positive or false-negative results.

“So, if you go to a place where a percentage of test results can give you the wrong result, then you have to be careful. Whereas the PRC test, that is, the polymerise chain reaction test is accurate and reliable. So, if you want to know how accurate a person is positive, that is the test you ought to do, that is the recommendation of the World Health Organisation.

“Now, science is never certain. There are many ways and avenues by which the quality of the rapid test is still being improved. And as I speak to you now, the Medical Laboratory Science of Nigeria, which is responsible for validating this test, for telling us whether they are reliable or not, whether we should use it or not, they are verifying such test now and they will give us their result, whether it is reliable enough or not reliable enough.

“There is also the anti-body rapid test and the anti-gem rapid test. So, I believe that within a matter of weeks and months, there will be one that will be accurate enough for us to rely on.

“So, those who do the rapid test now, if it is positive, you have to go and confirm with the PRC because the accuracy is questionable. Some of them, their accuracy is 60 percent, which means that 40 percent will be wrong.

“Others are 20 percent wrong which is why rapid diagnostic test (RDT), is not yet officially used in Nigeria. But, I personally believe that as they continue to improve on it, within some months, we shall be able to use it. Meanwhile, we use only the most reliable one, which is PCR.”
Ehanire also spoke on the failure of politicians to observe COVID-19 protocols as shown in the current campaign venues in Edo State and the funeral of the late Senator Buruji Kashamu in Ogun State last weekend, saying concerned authorities look up to politicians to do what is right.

Also echoing Ehanire, the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said: “As a matter fact this matter came up at the last PTF briefing, and the coordinator said that we will continue to advise social distancing in whatever gathering. It has been proven that wearing a mask saves many lives and we will continue to harp on it that people should take personal responsibility.”

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Nigeria Immigration Service Places Embargo on Capturing, Issuance of Passports

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The Nigeria Immigration Service has placed an embargo on capturing and issuance of passports to applicants from today May 18th till the end of May 2021.

The Comptroller General of Immigration, Muhammed Babandede made the announcement on Tuesday during a press briefing in Abuja.

He said the decision is to enable the service to clear its backlog, noting that it will no longer collect fresh applications until the backlogs are cleared.

This means that all passports in control offices are closed for applicants from today till May 31st and payments for passports will be online when the portal is opened which will be June.

The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola had earlier given a six weeks timeline for passport collection.

He said this will be six weeks which is meant to allow for enough time to investigate, verify and validate personal information supplied by the applicants.

“What we are driving at is the peace of mind that comes from the assurance of certainty. If there are circumstances that will make the date to change, it will be communicated to the applicant one week before the collection date”.

He noted that applicants will have no basis for further communication with officers, other than to complete their application process and leave the venue. The date for the collection of their passports or any challenge to the application will be communicated to them.

“The technology for the efficient running of this system has been acquired and will be deployed.

“We are publishing on our website the list of the backlog of passports that are ready which are yet to be collected by the owners. They will be required to go to the state commands to collect them.

“With these changes, it is my firm belief that we will arrive at a new dawn in passport application processing”, the minister added.

Below is the breakdown of the current backlog

Local: 71, 644

Enhanced: 46,814

Foreign : 17,906

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NLC President Dares El-Rufai, Leads Protesters to Kaduna Govt House

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The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, is currently leading union members to the Kaduna State Government House.

This is after Governor Nasir El-Rufai declared the labour leader and others wanted for “economic sabotage” and attack on public infrastructure.

Large crowd, led by Wabba, is marching through Waff road in Kaduna and heading towards the government house.

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Gov Obiano Imposes Curfew on 2 Warring Anambra Communities

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Gov. Willie Obiano has imposed a 7am to 6am curfew on Omor and Anaku communities in Ayamelum Local Government Area of the state.

This is contained in a statement issued by Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, Secretary to the State Government.

The state government said the curfew is untill further notice.

”The curfew begins on Monday. Residents of the two communities should obey the order as security personnel are on strict orders to enforce the curfew directives.

”The government has lifted the curfew imposed on Igbariam, Aguleri, Umueri, Nteje, Awkuzu and Umunya communities on April 26, following the return of normalcy in the areas,” the government said.

It was reported that on Sunday, a violent clash broke out between residents of Anaku and Omor Communities.

The police says three persons have been confirmed dead in a clash between Omor and Anaku communities in Anyamelum Local Government Area of the state.

DSP Tochukwu Ikenga, Police Public Relations Officer in Anambra, told NAN in Awka on Sunday that normalcy has since been restored in the area.

Ikenga said that Mr Chris Owolabi, Commissioner of Police in the state, personally led a team of operatives to quell the crisis between the neighbouring communities.He said that the command is still gathering information on the extent of damage while assuring that efforts were on to avoid deterioration of the situation and ensure lasting peace.

“Normalcy has been restored in the area and our men are still on ground to ensure safety of life and property. So far, we have recovered three bodies which have been deposited at the morgue.

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