COVID-19 Weekly: US Donates 200 Ventilators to Nigeria as Russia Approves World’s First COVID-19 Vaccine
Numbers available from the NCDC show that between August 4 and 10, 17,730 Nigerians were tested for COVID-19 in the country. This is a drop in capacity compared to the 31,473 people that were tested from July 28 to August 4.
2,434 new cases were identified within that period. The percentage of those who tested positive to those who were tested for this week is 13.73%. Compared to the 8.35% that was recorded last week, there was an increase in the rate of infection.
Russia approves ‘world’s first’ COVID-19 vaccine
Russia announced the approval of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by one of its institutes. The vaccine is being developed by the Gamaleya Institute and has passed stage 1 and 2 clinical trials.
The third stage of clinical trials which began on June 1 is yet to be concluded, however, and this has brought on concerns from other countries regarding the safety and efficacy of using a vaccine that has not passed the third stage of trials.
The stage 3 trials is where the vaccine will be tested on tens of thousands of people in a controlled environment in order to detect side effects, reactions, and ascertain if the vaccine is effective and safe for human use.
Medical experts from Nigeria have opined that the drug should not be used in the country yet, since Russia can not provide statistical data that the drug works properly when used by a wide variety of people.
A professor of virology, Chairman Expert Review Committee on COVID-19 and pioneer Vice-Chancellor of Redeemer’s University, Oyewale Tomori, told the Guardian that “A safe and efficacious vaccine is, of course, what we need now. It will be a breakthrough of monumental magnitude.”
“However, what we need now is a breakthrough, not a break loose. Russia says, so far, the vaccine is efficacious and we have no way of confirming that. Until we have that confirmation, it will not be safe to touch the vaccine.”
World Bank approves $114m to improve Nigeria’s COVID-19 response
With a total of 321,951 tests carried out in the country, Nigeria has not tested up to 1% of its 195.9 million population since it began testing in March. However, a credit allocation of $114 million has been approved for Nigeria to beef up its COVID-19 response.
According to the World Bank, the funds come in the form of $100 million credit facility from the International Development Association (IDA) and $14 million grant from the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility.
Through the COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Project (CoPREP), the federal government is expected to provide grants to the state governments. These grants will be used to obtain the technical and fiscal aid that the states need to fight the pandemic.
Medical equipment, laboratory tests and medicines are to be procured by the federal government through the CoPrEP and distributed to the states according to their needs.
Nigeria receives 200 ventilators from the US
Almost 4 months since US President Donald Trump promised delivery of ventilators, the equipment has finally arrived in Nigeria. The medical equipment was officially handed over by Mary Beth Leonard, the US Ambassador to Nigeria.
The ventilators will be used to aid the treatment and recovery process of COVID-19 patients. According to the Health Minister, Osagie Ehanire, “This donation consists of 200 ventilators which are critical components of the response strategy that will help to save the lives of persons who have been severely impacted by #COVID19.”
According to a Daily Trust report, as at April 1, there were only 169 ventilators in 16 states including Kano and Abeokuta and Delta. Figures for Lagos and Abuja were unknown. This means prior to this delivery from the US, the entire country might not have up to 500 ventilators. Experts think Nigeria needs up to 10,000 ventilators.
Worship centres in Lagos to be monitored by Covid-19 compliance committee
Churches and other worship centres reopened in Lagos on August 7 following a string of laid down protocols and guidelines to limit the spread of the COVID-19. To ensure that the worship centres follow the protocols, the state has set up a Monitoring and Compliance Committee.
The Compliance Committee will be checking through the centres to ensure that only the regular services and gatherings are permitted to hold. Night vigils and other non-regular programmes have been prohibited until further notice by the government.
Centres will also be scrutinized to ensure that the ‘no face mask, no entry policy’ is enforced at the beginning of services and that it is maintained throughout.
While not strictly enforced, worshippers above 65 years of age have been advised to refrain from attending worship services as most of the COVID-19 casualties are within that age range.
Part of the policy states that regular cleaning and disinfection of facilities must be carried out to maintain clean and hygienic environments before and after every service. Proper ventilation is required for all the centres and where applicable, the policy encourages that services hold outdoors.
Ogun state launches tax relief scheme for COVID-19
Residents of Ogun state have been granted a tax relief package by the governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun. The package grants a 6-month extension of the 2019 income tax returns deadline for self-employed residents from March 31, 2020, to September 30, 2020.
PAYE operators and tax agents have also been granted an 8-month extension to file the 2019 annual PAYE returns. In addition, the interest and penalty for late filing for the extension period have been waived by the government.
Weekly tax payments by operators of betting and pool businesses in the state have been waived from April 1 to June 30, giving the operators ample time to get back in the structure of remitting tax as business operations return to a new normal.
For people who remit the Personal Income Tax, the late payment penalty has been waived for payments from January 1, 2020 to December 31.
Businesses have had to grapple with losses incurred from a decrease in operations as well as the need to close down outlets due to the pandemic. The tax relief packages will help businesses and residents to continue on a path towards profitability without much tax penalty to worry about.
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