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COVID-19: Omicron variant not yet in Nigeria but… — NCDC

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said that the newly discovered SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern of the coronavirus infection- B.1.1.529 lineage, which has been named Omicron, has so far not been detected in the country.

The disease centre, however, warned Nigerians against losing guards, advising people to avoid visiting countries where cases have been reported including South Africa, Botswana, Italy, Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom.

In a statement issued on Sunday night and signed by the director-general, Ifedayo Adetifa, the disease centre said it is monitoring emerging evidence alongside the federal ministry of health on the new variant and its implication “to inform Nigeria’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The statement reads in part; “Considering the highly likely increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant and its emergence that is linked to unmitigated community transmission of the virus, the NCDC urges Nigerians to ensure strict adherence to the proven public health and social measures in place, which are enforceable by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 (PSC-COVID-19), through the COVID-19 Health Protection Regulations 2021.”

Dangerous variant

While the disease centre noted that no death has, however, been reportedly linked to the new variant, it confirmed its high mutations and transmissibilities, noting that a total of 126 genomes of the variant has been identified so far.

“Given the high number of mutations present in this Omicron variant and the exponential rise in COVID-19 cases observed in South Africa, this virus is considered highly transmissible and may also present an increased risk of reinfection compared to other variants of concern (VOCs).

“However, the fears about its ability to evade protective immune responses and/or its being vaccine-resistant are only theoretical so far. This virus can still be detected with existing Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests.

“The WHO and researchers across the world are working at speed to gain an understanding of the likely impact of this variant on the severity of COVID-19 and on the potency of existing vaccines and therapeutics.”

Vaccination

The disease centre urges Nigerians to, apart from observing all non-pharmaceutical protocols against the pandemic, get vaccinated as prompt as possible.

NCDC said; “Adhere to public health and social measures that have been proven to help prevent SARS-COV-2 infection regardless of the circulating variant. These include, wearing face masks, especially in crowded settings, washing hands regularly, physical distancing from others where possible during good ventilation, avoid travel to countries where there is a surge in COVID-19 cases or reported cases of the Omicron variant, and avoid all non-essential travel both local and international.

“If you must travel, please adhere to travel protocols instituted by the PSC-COVID-19 which are in place to prevent the risk of importation of the virus or its variants to Nigeria.”

Mr Adetifa further appealed to business owners, religious leaders and people in authority “to take responsibility by ensuring people in their premises wear masks and adhere to physical distancing.”

“We must do all we can to protect ourselves and our country,” the centre said.

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2023 battle: PDP Governors in emergency meeting Monday

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By Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Governors Forum will hold a special meeting on Monday, 17 January, 2022 at the Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt.

The Director General, PDP Governors Forum, Cyril I.D. Maduabum, said the meeting would review the state of the nation and readiness of the PDP  to provide the necessary leadership to rescue and rebuild Nigeria.

“All the elected PDP Governors are expected to attend the meeting to be presided over by the Chairman of the Forum, Rt Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.

“The meeting will be preceded by a Gala night to be hosted by the Chief Host, His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.

“The PDP Governors are working in concert and consultations with other leaders of the party and in particular the Senator Dr. Iyorchia Ayu led National Executive Committee of PDP to craft a credible process and programme for Nigeria’s positive rebirth.”

He explained that Dr Ayu has been invited to attend the Port Harcourt meeting to hold consultations with the Governors on strategies for executing the rescue and rebuild Nigeria project.

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Rivers LG chairs destroy illegal artisanal refineries

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Okafor Ofiebor/ Port Harcourt

Chairpersons of local governments in Rivers have intensified battle against soot menance with raid and destruction of illegal artisanal refiners in some parts of the state.

In Obio-Akpor Local Government Council, George Ariolu, the chairman and some of his officers have uncovered facilities being used for illegal refining and storage of refined products around Ogbogoro and Eligbam communities of the Council.

Ariolu restated that the battle against soot menace is a battle for everyone and not for government alone to tackle, adding that it is a problem for all considering the environmental and health hazard associated with it.

He told journalists at Ogbogoro waterfront that all hands must be on deck in order to combat the menace of black soot in the State.

There was mild drama and altercation between the Police and officers of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, at site of one the depots, Obio-Akpor local government in presence of LGA boss.

The Chairman later accused some security personnel of aiding and abetting culprits involved in the pollution of the environment through their collaboration.

Ariolu advised the public to align with government and security agencies by relaying relevant information that will aid the arrest culprits, as he described the Ogbogoro Waterfront (former Crushrock) as a major depot for the storage of illegally refined petroleum products in the State.

The Chairman who also found an illegal refined petroleum products dump yard at Rumuolumeni Community (Mgboduohia and Minikpete), condemned the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps for their compromise in the fight against illegality.

He called on the State Government to seal, investigate and arraign owners of facilities used to perpetrate such heinous crimes in the society.

Speaking at a radio programme with Raypower 106.5 fm, the Chairman debunked rumours that the fight against illegal refinery operators in the state is political motivated and targeted at a particular sect and tribe in Rivers State.

In the same vein, the Chairman of Etche Local Government Area, Obinna Anyanwu and his team also discovered and dismantled two oil bunkering dump sites located at Akwa and Odagwa waterfronts boundaries between Rivers and Abia States.

Anyanwu was accompanied by security operatives and members of the Etche Local Government TaskForce/Oil Bunkering to the illegal oil dump sites.

Speaking to Journalists shortly after the raid, the Etche Council Chairman assured that his administration will continue to rid the area off illegal crude oil refiners to ensure safety and healthy environment for the people.

The Etche Council Chairman directed the committee in-charge of oil bunkering to collaborate with the security agencies in fishing out anyone who might be involved in illegal oil refining, including those using Etche as a route to transport their illegal refined products to neighboring states.

Anyanwu who expressed concern over the harmful blanket of black soot across the skyline in Rivers caused by illegal crude oil refining, pledged his full support to Governor Wike’s drastic measures in seeking an end to the soot menace.

Likewise in Eleme local government area an enforcement team was led by the Chairman, Obarilormate Ollor in company of security personnel, Eleme Youth Coordinator, Prince N. Okereke,the Chief Security Officer, Brain Gokpa, Special Assistant to the Executive Chairman on illegal bunkering and artisanal mining Mr Chika Alale Oluji stormed some illegal Bunkering sites.

Our Correspondent reports that seven refining points as well as two fully loaded oil badges were discovered and destroyed.

However,beside depots, no illegal refining sites were found at the time of the operation and no arrests have been made.

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Shonekan’s death major loss to Nigeria, private sector -Osinbajo

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that the late head of Nigeria’s Interim National Government, Ernest Shonekan, was highly consequential as a leader in the private sector who impacted economic policy in Nigeria.

This is as he described Shonekan’s demise as a major loss to the country.

Osinbajo stated this on Sunday when he paid a condolence visit to the family of the late head of the Interim National Government, in Lagos.

Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity Laolu Akande, disclosed this in a statement he signed late Sunday titled ‘Shonekan was consequential as private sector leader, his death a major loss, says Osinbajo’.

The Vice President who visited in company of his wife, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo, was received at the Ikoyi residence of the Shonekans by the late ING head’s widow, Margaret Shonekan, and the son Adeboye Shonekan.

Osinbajo described Shonekan’s death as “a very major loss for the country and for the private sector and even internationally.

“Here was a man who made an impact. He was one of the very first leaders in the private sector to shape economic policy in Nigeria, and his role in that respect was very significant.”

During the visit, the Vice President also signed the condolence register thus: “We bless the name of the Lord for the excellent life of service to the country and to God, of our leader and father  Chief Ernest Shonekan, GCFR.

“We are proud of his contributions to the shaping of the modern Nigerian economy while being a leading light in the private sector. And for his statesmanship and leadership of the country at a time of great uncertainty in our nation.

“His integrity, legacy and high value service will remain evergreen in our memories. We pray that the Lord will comfort the family and may his memory be blessed forever. Amen.”

The Vice President also prayed for the family of the deceased business guru.

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