India on Friday reported a jump of 7,466 cases of COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, its biggest one-day surge so far, as the country relaxes its lockdown measures.
The total number of infections rose to 165,799, the Health Ministry said in its daily morning update.
This was the first time that more than 7,000 more cases were detected in a 24-hour period, that followed seven consecutive days of more than 6,000 cases per day.
There were 175 deaths linked with COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of deaths due to the disease to 4,706, surpassing the toll in neighbouring China, where the deadly virus emerged last year.
Inspite of the rapidly increasing infections, India has progressively relaxed restrictions including opening up air travel.
While there are concerns over rising cases, there is enormous economic pressure in the country with millions of people rendered unemployed due to the pandemic.
Broadcaster NDTV reported that Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting on Friday on the strategy ahead for the lockdown that ends Sunday and weighing how to restart economic activity amid the increase in virus cases.
An exodus of migrants is under way from urban centres to their home districts, raising fears that the infections would spread in rural areas where the health infrastructure is particularly poor.
India is currently ranked at the ninth position in terms of infections worldwide, just behind Germany and France. But in terms of fatalities, India is 13th position globally.
Edited By: Halima Sheji/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)
Health Minister says 10% of COVID-19 cases are under-19
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire says records show that 10 per cent of all positive COVID-19 cases treated are below the age of 19 years.
According to him, with regard to COVID-19 and growing complacency, it is important to stress that, even though adults, especially those 60 years and above are more vulnerable, complications do occur in all age groups.
“Records show that 10 percent of all positive cases we have treated are below the age of 19 years.
” They are also the same mobile group that can be without symptoms, but can easily spread the disease.
“Therefore, as schools begin to reopen in some areas, I urge caution and adherence to the protocols and advisories for reopening schools, to prevent COVID-19 surge,” he said.
Speaking on the need for testing, the minister noted that it was important for the country to generate national and international confidence in the nation’s data by conducting more targeted testing before conclusions were drawn.
“It means that all States and local government areas must cooperate with NCDC by raising sample collection rate, using criteria listed, to increase testing to a desired rate and to report promptly; as we are still far from the target of two million tests.
“In this regard, we can support States with community volunteers for contact tracing, case finding and investigation.
“While stepping up surveillance and case finding, states can also ensure that suspected symptomatic COVID cases are sent for treatment in time or supported before then with medical oxygen, to save lives and reduce fatalities.
“The recommended criteria for testing are: persons who have been in contact with a COVID positive patient or are associated with a cluster of persons of interest, those who have any of the four classical symptoms of fever, persistent cough, loss of sense of taste or smell and breathlessness; anyone facing surgery, as well as for any other compelling reason. Testing for travel is assigned to private laboratories.”
He also stated that the distribution of oxygen concentrators and ventilators to various health institutions commenced with training of about 176 intensive care specialists, and biomedical engineers, who would use or maintain them in the hospitals.
Ehanire disclosed that the ventilators and training were courtesy of the United States government and it shall complement what they have at the ICUs.
The minister also commended health workers in JOHESU, for putting an end to their industrial action, adding that it was his desire to work with them to resolve issues of concern.
Edited By: Felix Ajide
COVID-19: PTF warns against neglect of protocols
He said that there were increasing disregard for basic non-pharmaceutical measures that have proven to be very successful.
He said face masks have now been turned into chin masks, social distancing and gatherings are returning to the pre-COVID era.
Mustapha, however, called for vigilance in order to forestall any danger of second wave of the pandemic as the countries in Europe were currently facing.
According to him, the call for greater vigilance is underscored by the fact that our economy has been seriously affected by the pandemic and we are pushing through our home-grown economic recovery strategies to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic.
” Also, our health systems, in spite of its fragility, have been able to withstand and contain cases resulting from COVID-19 infection, where those of more advanced countries have been overwhelmed.
“This call is made more pertinent in view of the noticeably increasing disregard for basic non-pharmaceutical measures that have proven very successful.
“Face masks have now been turned into chin masks, social distancing and gatherings are returning to the pre-COVID era,” he said.
Speaking on the second wave of the virus across the world, the PTF chairman said, “Israel has re-introduced a three-week lockdown, the United Kingdom was considering another lockdown phase, Spain was enforcing a partial lockdown in Madrid and France – amidst protests by its citizens.
“They have also introduced stricter measures to contain the virus. Similar stories are coming from South Korea, Iran and the number of fatalities is approaching 200,000 in the USA.
“The World Health Organisation(WHO), has advised that everybody should learn from lessons of the first wave, especially as ‘no one is safe until everyone is safe’.
“Let me share with you a global picture to buttress the foregoing. Over the last three days, the global cases passed the 31 million mark and it took only four days to get there from the 30th million.
“The USA crossed 7 million cases and continues to report a high daily caseload of over 30, 000 daily. We continue to see highest daily numbers from India.
“More specifically, the lesson for us in Nigeria, is that in spite of appreciable progress recorded, we should be vigilant more than ever before, because we have opened our air spaces to international travels, we have relaxed a number of restrictions in opening up more sectors of the economy and schools are beginning to open in varying degrees.”
On the reopening of airports for international travels, Mustapha noted that the PTF would continue to work with partners from the private sector to fine tune the protocols for international travellers, especially those arriving in Nigeria.
He, however, urged all travellers to ensure that they complete all pre-boarding and post-arrival processes, especially on the portal to facilitate seamless arrivals at the airports.
“We cannot afford the importation of the virus.
“We appeal strongly to all Nigerians to persuade their relations arriving Nigeria to self-isolate upon arrival, as required and test on day seven as prescribed,”
Edited By: Felix Ajide
NAF trains 435 specialists to man its platforms
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, on Monday said that 435 specialits have been trained by the Nigerian Air Force to man its platforms.
The personnel were trained at the Nigerian Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), Kaduna.
He said that it was time for the institution to reflect on how well it has delivered on its mandate while the students reflect on the enormity of the challenges that lie ahead in building a successful professional career in the NAF.
He noted that for over 40 years, AFIT has consistently trained officers and airmen/airwomen who have performed creditably in supporting NAF operations as specialists in aircraft and armament engineering.
Also in works and services, supply management, communication as well as Information and Communication Technology.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the 435 students where trained on engineering, armament maintenance, logistics and procurement management.
Others include, electrical/electronics/radar/Information technology, aircraft maintenance, Air Frame and Power Plant Option and avionics.
NAN also reports that among the 435 graduating students, 75 are officers and 360 are airmen and airwomen.
Abubakar said the vision of the current NAF administration was anchored on human capacity development for enhanced professional performance.
“Ensuring NAF personnel have the requisite knowledge and skills to effectively support Nigerian Air Force operations which remains the prime focus of my administration
“In the area of pilots training, two officers including the first female fighter pilot have concluded their tactical training on the A-Jet aircraft.
“Only last week, we witnessed the graduation of 29 officers of Super Mushk Pcourse and 46 who have successfully completed their ab initio pilot training on the Supermushak and the DA-40 aircraft.
”Similarly, last Friday, 24 special forces personnel passed out as instructors at the RTC Annex in Bauchi and the unit also commenced the training of 219 SF personnel.
“Later in the week, we shall witness the graduation of four student pilots that have completed their Basic Fighter Training course in Kano.”
According to Abubakar, these courses that have been concluded successfully despite enormous challenges including the COVID–19 pandemic.
”It will no doubt have positive impact not only on our operations but will go a long way towards ensuring that the Service is positioned into a highly professional and disciplined force.”
He also noted that the technical and logistics management courses conducted by the Air Force Institute have helped tremendously to reduce dependence on foreign expatriates and save huge foreign exchange for the nation.
“The execution of air operations in theatres across Nigeria using solely Nigerian crews, engineers, technicians, and controllers is a testament of the success story of our capacity building initiative.
”I congratulate the students for their steadfastness, tenacity of purpose and grit to complete your course work.
”However, let me remind you that the initial and basic courses you have just completed is the beginning of your journey as professionals in the NAF.
“You still have a lot to learn particularly from your superiors in the field.
“It is my sincere expectation that as you go to the field, you will be good and worthy ambassador of AFIT as you join a long line of outstanding graduates of this prestigious citadel who through excellence, hard work and commitment have continue to contribute to the success of the Nigerian Air Force.”
Abubakar expressed NAF appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari, for his continuous support.
“The invaluable support the NAF has enjoyed over the years has placed us in a position to tackle the challenges of insurgency and myriad of other forms of insecurity across the nation.
“We hereby reaffirm our commitment to ensuring the safety and security of all Nigerians and indeed all the people who reside in our great country,” he said.
Earlier, the Commandant of AFIT, AVM Abdulganiyyu Olabisi, said that the basic courses were aimed at introducing the officers and men to their various trades in preparation for deployment to the field.
Olabisi said having recognized that the officers and men of the NAF can only give as good as they are equipped to, reiterated the need to train and re-train them to handle all the operational needs of the Nigerian Air Force.
This he said will deemphasize dependence on foreign nationals and non-military actors.
The Commandant appealed to NAF Headquarters to assist in the funding of the training initiatives.
Edited By: Modupe Adeloye/ Maharazu Ahmed
FG urges states to provide infrastructure for film industry devt.
The Federal Government on Monday called on states to provide necessary infrastructure for the growth of the film industry to create wealth and employment for youths.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call in Abuja while inaugurating the Steering Committee for the Reform and Commercialisation of the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC).
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Federal Government is partially commercialising the NFC to effectively discharge its mandate to plan, promote, organise and co-ordinate the development of the motion picture industry in the country.
Inaugurating the committee, the minister underscored the need for states to invest in infrastructure to boost the film industry because of its potentials to create jobs and boost the economy
Relying on International Monetary Fund data, Mohammed said the Nigerian film industry, Nollywood, is the second largest employer of labour and contributed N893 billion to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2015.
The minister also noted that Nollywood could perform better if the needed infrastructure such as film houses and enabling environment were provided.
In a comparative analysis, the minister disclosed that Nigeria has only 142 cinema houses compared to South Africa with 782 cinema houses.
According to him, the US has 40,393 cinema houses while India and China have 11,209 and 50,976 cinema houses respectively.
“You cannot have a successful film industry without adequate cinema houses because the major revenue source of the industry is exhibition .
“The most successful film in Nigeria today is “Wedding Party 1 and 2” that grossed about two million dollars within a week through the cinema houses.
“You can imagine a gross of 2 million dollars using only 142 cinema houses, and how much the film would have grossed if we have about 1000 cinema houses for exhibition,” he said.
“That is why it is important to appeal to our state governments to invest in infrastructure in the industry.
“I do not think it will be too much for the state government to ensure they build one cinema house in each local government area of their states to give us an additional 774 cinema houses in the country.
“In India, 14 million people attend cinema daily and I can imagine the impact it will have on the economy,” he said.
The minister also underscored the need for states to look into building purpose-built arenas for concerts and shows to encourage creative artists.
“I will advise state governments to look into having arenas in each senatorial district or one in the state capital.
“I do not know of any place where we have purpose-built arena today because most places where we have concerts are not purpose-built.
“We have artists in Nigeria that can sell out anywhere in the world; Burna boy, Wiz Kid and Davido sold out in Arena 02 in London and in other big arenas over the world.
“The biggest arena in Nigeria which is not even purpose-built can only accommodate about 7000 people whereas the Arena 02 in London accommodates up to 20,000 people,” he said.
The minister also canvassed for easy acquisition of land and tax waivers for artistes and investors who would like to build cinema houses or invest generally in the industry.
He noted that apart from wealth and employment creation, promoting the film industry would help to build inclusion and reduce social tension.
The minister noted that the intention of the administration is to make Nigeria the capital of entertainment in Africa,
He said though the film industry had been largely driven by the private sector, the Federal Government had been supporting the industry by providing enabling environment and funding.
“In 2013, there was “Project Nollywood” in which the government made available to the sector about 17 million USD for the growth and promotion of the industry.
“I am also aware of the various multilateral injection of funds to this industry and we have also embarked on revolutionary reforms to reposition the industry,” he said.
Earlier, Mr Alex Okoh, the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), said with the tremendous potentials of the film industry to reposition the nation’s economy, the government needed to play a prominent role.
Okoh said that the government was reforming the NFC to take the leading role in harnessing the potentials in the sector.
He, however, clarified that the reform process “is not a privatisation of the corporation but the commercialisation of this important enterprise and agency of government.”
“The clarification is that in this reform process, there is no transfer of ownership, no sale of shares and no privatisation of the entity.
“It is basically to ensure the resident value of the enterprise and its commercial viability,” he said.
He said the steering committee being chaired by the minister would consider and approve the recommendations submitted by the project delivery team for the commercialisation of the corporation.
Other members of the steering committee inaugurated by the minister were Okoh, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs Grace Gekpe and the Managing Director of NFC, Chidia Maduekwe.
The Director Information and Communication of BPE, Dikko Mohammed, will serve as the Secretary of the committee.
Edited By: Mufutau Ojo)