It’s been exactly one year since lockdown was initiated in Nigeria to curb the spread of the covid-19 pandemic. It has been a tumultuous one year riddled with a lot of economic as well well as psychological woes. But just like the Queens music band said, “We are the champions, my friend.”
In the past 1 week, here are the most interesting developments relating to the pandemic in Nigeria.
Nigerian scientists develop Covid-19 vaccines
The chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, Boss Mustapha, announced on Tuesday that two covid-19 vaccines are being developed by scientists in the country. The vaccines are currently undergoing clinical trials and will be shared with the public after certification by the relevant health authorities.
Mustapha said, “This is a welcome development that will open a new vista in scientific breakthrough and will boost the morale and image of the medical industry in the country.
Like the existing vaccines, these ones in development will go through the trial phases where they will be used on small and large groups of people in order to check for adverse reactions and proficiency.
2 Nigerians jailed for $8000 Covid-19 scam
Two Nigerians have been convicted for impersonating US citizens and collecting money as covid-19 benefits in form of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) from Virginia, United States.
Collins Samuel and Okoh Kingsley Chukwuemeka were convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment by Justice P. Mallong of the Federal High Court sitting in Kaduna.
According to reports, Collins Samuel who received the benefits as Ashley Coopper has been sentenced to 2 years in prison with an option of N500,000 fine. A Toyota Camry 2010 model car, an HP Elite book 840 Laptop and iPad Model A1396 have also been confiscated from him while the N3, 296,696.48 found in his Access Bank Account will be paid as restitution to the state of Virginia.
Chukwuemeka has also been sentenced to 2 years in prison with the option of N500,000 to be paid to the federal government of Nigeria. An Apple iPhone 6S, Dell Laptop model 7240, and a Toyota Camry 2010 model car have been confiscated from him as well while he will pay $700 as restitution to the US government.
South Africa sells Astrazeneca stock, orders new doses of Pfizer vaccine
South Africa has sold off its AstraZeneca vaccine doses to other countries in the African Union. While other countries including Nigeria are increasing efforts to get vaccine doses for their citizens, South Africa had to pull the plug on its share of the AstraZeneca vaccines because they were not very effective against the prevalent variant in the country.
The illnesses brought on by the virus still continued to manifest in patients who had been vaccinated with the Astrazeneca doses. Therefore, South Africa concluded that the vaccines are better off in other countries with more susceptible variants.
The country has been hard hit by the virus, with the second wave claiming more lives because of the mutation N501Y carried by the prevalent variant there. Vaccines from Johnson & Johnson as well as Pfizer/Biontech have been requested to help achieve the herd immunity plan with 40 million out of the country’s 59 million citizens.
Nigeria obtains $1 billion loan to support MSMEs hit by Covid-19
The Bank of Industry (BoI) has obtained a loan of $1 billion to provide micro-credit to small and medium-scale businesses in the country. It was secured under the supervision of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and announced by its Minister, Adeniyi Adebayo, at the Quantum Mechanics Limited MSMEs Survival Fund capacity building programme in Abuja.
Mr Adebayo said that the loan will improve the capacity of the Bank of Industry to effectively support MSMEs across key sectors of the Nigerian economy.
The loan facility has long-term tenure and moratorium benefits. This is in addition to existing MSME benefits including the survival fund and free business registration scheme.
Nigeria suspends Emirates flights over stressful Covid-19 policies
Flights into the United Arab Emirates have been put on hold indefinitely because of the country’s stringent covid-19 requirements. According to Nigeria’s aviation minister, Hadi Sirika, passengers travelling into the UAE are being required to take three covid-19 tests within 24 hours.
The tests include a covid-19 PCR test done within 24 hours before departure and a rapid test within 4 hours before departure. Commenting on the requirements, Sirika said, “To make us go through three tests within 24 hours does not make sense. Since they insist, their operations remain suspended.”
While UAE-bound Nigerians remain at home, the numbers of infected persons with the covid-19 have continued to drop. Over the last 1 week (March 18 to 24), only 769 persons were confirmed positive with the virus. This is less than the 1,615 cases that were recorded last week and even lesser than the 2,289 that were recorded in the previous week.
This means that the pandemic is once again easing in all 36 states. Let’s keep the numbers going down by wearing face masks and sticking to the rest of the covid-19 protocols.
Until the next roundup, you and I are the heroes, my friend.
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