Covid-19 Update: FBI arrests Abidemi Rufai for pandemic-related scam and other stories

Abidemi Rufai scammed us
Abidemi Rufai scammed the US

More than a year since it was declared a pandemic, the covid-19 is still spreading fast in many parts of the world. Currently, the worst-hit countries include India and Brazil. In Nigeria, the rate of infection continues to be low across all states, according to data from the NCDC.

Only 250 new cases were detected between May 12 and 18. This is a slight increase from the 242 cases that were recorded in the previous week. 162 of the cases are in Lagos while the remaining 88 infected persons were recorded in other states.

Altogether, there are 7,323 active cases in Nigeria and 12 people received a clean bill of the health within the last week.

Also Read: FG denies imposing new restrictions, Indian strain discovered in Nigeria

Here are the other interesting developments this week.

The Senior Special Assistant to the Ogun State Governor, Abidemi Rufai, has been arrested on a criminal complaint of wire fraud. He was picked up by the FBI on Friday evening at the JFK Airport in New York. Rufai allegedly stole over $350,000 in unemployment benefits from the Washington State Employment Security Department.

Abidemi Rufai

The criminal charge against Rufai says that he used the identities of more than 100 residents in Washington to file fraudulent claims with ESD for pandemic-related unemployment benefits. Additionally, he filed fraudulent unemployment claims in Hawaii, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Also Read: How to apply for ‘Lagos Cares’ N10bn grant for businesses and entrepreneurs

If convicted of wire fraud, Rufai will be looking at 30 years in prison according to US laws regarding scams related to presidentially declared emergencies such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

NAFDAC approves J&J vaccine

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has approved the Johnson and Johnson vaccine for emergency use in the country. The vaccine requires a single shot as against the 2 doses required for AstraZeneca’s vaccine to function effectively.

Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, NAFDAC DG

NAFDAC’s Director-general, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, said that only those of 18 years and above will be given the shot when it is available. She said that clinical trials for the vaccine found a “67% reduction in the number of symptomatic COVID-19 cases after 2 weeks in people who received it.”

Also Read: Google I/O 2021: smart canvas, locked photos folder and every new feature unveiled

In terms of side effects, the most common ones that were reported at the trials include pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and nausea. Most of these side effects were mild to moderate in severity and lasted between 1 to 2 days.

Africa’s testing dropped by 21% – Africa CDC Director

The testing capacity of African countries has dropped in the past weeks compared to what it was before. This was revealed by the Africa Center for Diseases Control and Prevention.

In an online briefing, the CDC Director, John Nkengasong said that testing dropped 21 per cent last week across African countries. The health organization therefore implored countries to increase testing capacity, especially with the more deadly variants that have been discovered in different countries.

John Nkengasong

Besides Nigeria, other countries that have detected India’s B.1.617 strain include South Africa, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Morocco, Uganda and Kenya.

India unlikely to resume mass vaccine exports as deaths and infections soar

Global supply of the covid-19 vaccine is set to encounter even more delays as India continues to battle a disastrous third wave of the virus. The world’s largest vaccine maker, the Serum Institute of India (SII), has announced that it hopes to resume vaccine exports globally by the end of 2021.

It said, “We would like to reiterate that we have never exported vaccines at the cost of the people of India and remain committed to doing everything we can in the support of the vaccination drive in the country.” Nigeria received 3.94 million AstraZeneca doses from the SII in March and this still remains the largest shipment so far.

Guarding against a third wave of the pandemic in African countries has never been more important than now when one of the world’s major vaccine suppliers is unable to export for global use.

NMA warns FG against relying solely on travel advisory

Although the numbers of cases reported weekly by the NCDC continue to be under 500, experts are urging the federal government to do more than issue travel advisory in order to avert a third wave of the outbreak.

Prof Olawale Tomori
Source: Twitter/NCDCgov

A Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) member, Prof. Olawale Tomori admonished the government to ensure strict enforcement of every protocol in place.

Tomori, a professor of Virology and infectious disease control said, “What we need is strict enforcement and monitoring so that anybody coming into the country must be made to go through a protocol and then be quarantined and if tested positive, kept in isolation centre.”

The NMA’s president, Prof Innocent Ujah, added that “We need to systematically follow the issue because COVID-19 has socio-economic consequences. So, I think we should be very careful and be able to enforce the health protocols – for instance, ensuring that people take precautionary measures such as putting on facemasks and observing social distancing”.

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