It has been an interesting week of new developments as the world struggles to bring the Covid-19 menace under control. In Nigeria, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has now become the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) since its tenure expired on March 31. Shortly after India announced a squeeze on the exportation of vaccines, the country has sent another 100,000 doses to Nigeria.
Although the vaccine donation was announced by the High Commission of India in Nigeria on Tuesday evening, the doses arrived on March 26 at 1200hrs.
In this roundup, the interesting news to be covered include NAFDAC’s warning about potentially harmful hand sanitisers and the $15m grant received by the FG for the safe reopening of schools.
NAFDAC alerts Nigerians as the US places Mexican sanitisers on a watch list
The Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, has issued an alert to Nigerians concerning sanitisers imported from Mexico which contain methanol. This comes on the heels of an Import Alert issued by the US FDA on the said products.
According to the FDA, the products have been tested and found to contain methanol, a chemical substance that can be toxic when absorbed into the skin or ingested through the mouth.
The FDA’s statement reads in part, “Methanol or wood alcohol is a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin and life-threatening when ingested. Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient in hand sanitiser or other drugs.”
The alert further clarified that methanol exposure could cause nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death.
In its release, the NAFDAC implored all drug supply chain stakeholders to be vigilant and prevent the spread or use of methanol alcohol-based sanitisers.
Public labs reluctant to carry out free covid-19 testing
According to an investigation by Premium Times, the majority of public labs that are supposed to offer free testing to individuals were found to be redirecting people to private labs where the test costs about N50,000.
After presenting himself to the public labs with flu-like symptoms, the reporter’s investigation revealed that out of the 6 public labs listed on the NCDC website, only the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) was willing to carry out the free test.
Responding to the findings from the investigation, the Director-General of the NIMR, Babatunde Salako, said this may be because the test is expensive and may be much of a burden than the government can bear.
He said, “The test cost N54k and for every free test, the government may be seen to be spending that amount on individuals doing the test for free. I imagine it may be a constraint especially running free tests for travellers who can afford the test for their business or holiday trips. Government should not be running their business for them.
“I believe the government should have allowed public laboratories to charge at cost price at least, making the test more available to a lot more people”.
Nigeria gets $15m grant for safe school reopening
Nigeria has been granted a $15m grant from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) to facilitate the safe reopening of schools in the country amidst the covid-19 pandemic. The fund will be disbursed through the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
Director of Basic and Secondary Education in the Ministry of Education, Binta Abdulkadir said the fund was granted after Nigeria applied to the GPE for assistance.
“At the end of our engagement with the GPE, a 15 million-dollar grant was given to Nigeria as part of the COVID-19 response grant for the country. UNICEF was chosen as the grant agent to receive the monies and disburse since global players do not give their money directly to the government,”Binta Abdulkadir
The funds will be used to cater to 63% of schools and nearly 70% of children all spread across 16 states in the country.
FG explains directs states to halt vaccination halfway
The federal government has asked states to pause the exercise when the doses have decreased to half their initial quantities. The directive is necessary because it is not clear when the next batch of vaccines will arrive in the country. Since each recipient is supposed to get 2 jabs, pausing vaccination halfway will make it possible to complete the doses.
Minister of State for Health, Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora, said, “We believe that in a situation where we still cannot specifically determine when the next batch of AstraZeneca vaccine will arrive, then I think wisdom only dictates that it’s better for us to vaccinate people fully.”
Kano International Airport reopens 1 year after lockdown
International flights have reopened at the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport, (MAKIA). An Ethiopian Airline flight arrived at the airport on April 6, marking the first international flight since the airport was closed a year ago to reduce the spread of covid-19.
Flights to and from the United Arab Emirates, (UAE), remain grounded due to the covid-19 protocols required by the UAE. TechNext reported that the NCAA had banned flights into Dubai and the UAE because of the many tests that passengers are required to undergo before boarding.
497 people tested positive for the virus over the last week (March 31 to April 6). Last week, 584 people were recorded and the number has dropped since then. The numbers have been on a consistent decrease over the last 1 month, showing that the pandemic curve is flattening again.