Coronavirus

Italy extends coronavirus restrictions, allows cruise ships to sail

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The Italian government has extended measures intended to stop the spread of coronavirus until Sept. 7, according to a decree issued by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s cabinet on Friday night.


Masks must continue to be worn in closed public spaces, people must continue to keep physical distance from one another, and large gatherings remain banned.

Conte spoke of “balanced measures that do justice to the current situation,” and said one must remain vigilant about the virus.

Italy was one of the countries most severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic in the spring.

The decree allows cruise ships to sail again from Sept. 15, though strict hygiene rules must be observed on board.

From Sept. 1, trade fairs will be allowed to open again – construction and organisation of the exhibitions can begin immediately.

Another three billion euros (3.5 billion dollars) were made available for tourism and culture.

The cabinet also paved the way for further financial aid, for the economy and families, which brought the aid package provided by the government since the beginning of the crisis in March to 100 billion euros.

Other measures include tax deferrals for the self-employed and an action plan for the economically weaker southern regions.

The Prime Minister appealed to Italians to continue to participate in the measures to contain the coronavirus.

“We must not fall behind and undo our efforts.

“I understand the young people who would like to return to nightlife, but one must behave responsibly.

“The health of your loved ones is at stake,” he said.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

https://nnn.ng/italy-extends-coronavirus-restrictions-allows-cruise-ships-to-sail/

Sport

Whirlwind Bayern Munich dismantle Schalke 8-0 in season opener

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Treble winners Bayern Munich crushed Schalke 04 8-0 with a hat-trick from Serge Gnabry and a superb debut from Leroy Sane on Friday.


It was a sensational start to the new Bundesliga season and the win sent an ominous warning to potential challengers.

Also, it was the biggest opening win in Bundesliga history.

Bayern Munich showed they had lost none of the sharpness which helped them to lift the UEFA Champions League trophy less than a month ago in dominant fashion.

Gnabry grabbed his first goal for the hosts with a fine turn and shot in the fourth minute in what turned out to be a one-sided affair.

It stretched Bayern Munich’s unbeaten run to 31 games this year, having now won the last 22 matches in a row.

Schalke 04, without a league win in 17 consecutive matches since January, were helpless against Bayern Munich’s lightning-quick game.

Leon Goretzka found plenty of space to drive a low shot past goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann in the 19th minute.

“You can see that the team was already strong last season,” said Sane, who joined from Manchester City. “The team is still hungry in spite of winning the treble last season and to have such a start is outstanding.”

Bayern Munich finished their season in August when they added the Champions League to their Bundesliga and German Cup titles and then had only a short preparation for the new season.

Last season’s top goalscorer Robert Lewandowski found the net with a 31st minute penalty kick to become the first player to score in 10 successive appearances against the same Bundesliga opponents.

Gnabry then scored twice from Sane’s assists in the 47th and 59th before Thomas Mueller made it half a dozen after Lewandowski set him up with an impressive rabona kick.

Sane then capped his superb Bayern Munich debut with a fine finish from a counter attack in an empty Allianz Arena.

This was after the city had banned spectators due to rising coronavirus infection numbers in the region.

A little later substitute Jamal Musiala drilled in goal number eight to become the youngest ever Bayern Munich goalscorer in the league at 17 years old.

The result piled more pressure on already-embattled Schalke 04 coach David Wagner, who has been under intense scrutiny during their winless run this year.

(
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Source: NAN

 

 

https://nnn.ng/whirlwind-bayern-munich-dismantle-schalke-8-0-in-season-opener/
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Sport

1,000 fans at Italian Open better than none, says Djokovic

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World number one Novak Djokovic on Friday welcomed the Italian Government’s decision to allow up to 1,000 spectators for the final two days of the Italian Open in Rome.


Professional sports events in Italy have been played without fans since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said fans would be allowed to attend the closing stages of the tournament on Sunday and Monday.

Apart from the tennis masters, two Serie A matches this weekend and the Formula One race at Imola in November are also set to allow up to 1,000 spectators.

“I hope that is true. If we are going to have 1,000 people, it is better than no people.

“We all miss the fans; part of our professional careers in sport is playing in front of them and for them as well.

“I am really glad that that is going to happen,” Djokovic told reporters after he advanced to the quarter-finals with a 7-6(7) 6-3 victory over fellow Serb Filip Krajinovic.

Djokovic also said he hoped the matches would be played on centre court as he preferred the surface on the main court at the Foro Italico.

“I heard also they are considering to use Pietrangeli or NextGen court for semi-finals and finals.

“I hope it is not the case, because the quality of the clay and quality of the centre court is, in my opinion, much better than the other courts,” he said.

Djokovic will take on German Dominik Koepfer, who ended Italian teenager, Lorenzo Musetti’s dream run with a 6-4 6-0 win.

 

Musetti, 18, had beaten Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori in the first two rounds.

Second seed Rafa Nadal, seeking his 10th title in Rome, also advanced with a 6-1 6-3 victory over Dusan Lajovic to set up a clash with Argentine Diego Schwartzman.

In the women’s field, top seeds – Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova – moved into the quarter-finals with straight sets victories while Yulia Putintseva beat Kazakh compatriot Elena Rybakina 4-6 7-6(3) 6-2. (Reuters/ NAN)

Edited By: Ijeoma Popoola
Source: NAN

https://nnn.ng/1000-fans-at-italian-open-better-than-none-says-djokovic/
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COVID-19

NIMR unveils COVID-19 molecular testing kit

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The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) on Friday unveiled the first SARS-CoV-2 Isothemal Molecular Assay (SIMA) machine in the country to boost COVID-19 testing capacity.


Speaking at the unveiling, Prof. Babatunde Salako, Director General of NIMR, said the equipment was developed to ease the challenges posed by the current method which required heavy laboratory and expensive equipment to function.

Salako said that SIMA is a fast and sensitive point of carebtest for COVID-19 infection using molecular technique that is reliable.

“As a foremost research institute in Nigeria with a mandate to conduct research into diseases of public health importance like COVID-19 pandemic which at present a difficult management challenge for scientists.

“While no effective vaccine has been develop till date, case detection remains the surest way of controlling the pandemic.

“Seeing that molecular laboratories remain limited in number and remote areas are at disadvantaged in getting tested and limited testing centres.

“Our researchers once again swung into action to develop a point of care molecular test for COVID-19 to ease the challenges of getting a molecular laboratory which requires huge fund.

“The Isothemal used for our point of care testing cost 9500 dollars which is cheaper than the regular real time PCR equipment which cost about 100,000 dollars.

“This test reagent can be produced in country with 80 per cent to 90 per cent locally sourced material,” he said.

According to him, a NIMR research team, led by Dr Chika Onwuamah, a Senior Research Scientist, developed a molecular test for coronavirus that gives test result in less than 40 minutes.

He thanked Fate Foundation, for supporting the research with N20million through its Fate Philanthropy Coalition for COVID-19 Support.

“We are very grateful for the support given to the institute to develop the assay which is not only first of its kind in the country but also in Africa.

“The objective of the grant was to develop a fast multiplex isothermal assay for SARS-CoV-2 while we also designed and evaluated primers and probes for multiplex.

“Work is currently ongoing on a simple release reagent to simplify the RNA extraction step and the assay development procedure involve both bioinformatic analysis designing the primers and probes.

“To date we have a working assay guaranted to test 100 copies/ml of SARs-CoV-2 RNA, as we continue to improve on the detection limit,” he said.

Dr Onwuamah, who led the research work, said SIMA was far cheaper and faster compared to PCR which required a lot of power and goes through different temperature.

“The difference between the PCR used in Molecular lab and this is that PCR goes through different circle of temperature which requires more a lot of power for heating and cooling.

SIMA works at one temperature and that is why it is called isothermal which makes it far cheaper and faster,” he said.

On the duration of the research, the Senior Researcher said the project started around May, noting that there was a bit delay due to COVID-19 induced lockdown.

Onwuamah, however, called for more support to aid scientists in the country to carryout research work on public health emergency such as COVID-19.

“Support for scientists in Nigeria need to be strong because we have a lot to give but the enabling environment is not visible.

” This research work cost close to N10million before we arrive here and it is a continuous thing because we have to keep improving on what we have developed,” he said.

Mrs Adenike Adeyemi, Executive Director of Fate Foundation, said the foundation established the support fund to assist the ongoing national and local efforts to strengthen public health infrastructure.

Adeyemi said the focus was to key into government effort to properly equip and support public health facilities and frontline health workers.

“This foundation was founded 20 years ago by Fola Ade with a goal to enable aspiring and emerging Nigerians to excel in their prospective fields.

“The foundation have supported in the fight against the ravishing pandemic through our various programmes and with the support of 61 individual donors and institute.

“We are happy to be part of this huge research development that will go a long way to ease some of the present challenges in the fight against the virus,” she said.

Edited By: Wale Ojetimi
Source: NAN

https://nnn.ng/nimr-unveils-covid-19-molecular-testing-kit/
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Health

Pharmaceutical Products: Nigeria plans 60% local production

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Prof. Moji Adeyeye, Director-General of National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), says the country is working toward producing 60 per cent of its pharmaceutical products locally to reduce the over-dependence on international companies.


Adeyeye said this at a virtual conference with the theme “Seizing the Moment: Providing Faster Access to Quality Medical Products during COVID-19 and Beyond”, organised by the Management Sciences for Health (MSH) in partnership with Deloitte, a multinational professional services network.

The conference which had participants from some African countries was specifically on novel approaches emerging from COVID-19 response that can be effectively leveraged to respond to the pandemic, especially in Africa.

Adeyeye said the coronavirus pandemic was an eye opener to the world and as such efforts should be made to accelerate progress toward universal health coverage.

“Right now, we manufacture only 30 per cent of our products locally, and import 70 per cent; the goal is to change it to around 60 per cent locally and 40 per cent import.

“That is going to really contribute positively to reducing falsified substandard medicines and improve the health of the population,” she said.

According to Adeyeye, pharmaceutical manufacturing industries cannot survive without good regulatory system and as such stringent measures are to be adopted for a healthy system.

She explained that in spite the challenges, NAFDAC as a regulatory body in Nigeria had constantly used the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNIDO indices to monitor the manufacturing industries.

“We have also faced challenge of herbal medicine unspecified claims (unproved claim) for cure of COVID-19, so we have to also contend with that.”

Dr John Nkengaso, Head of Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in his view noted that Africa was able to overcome the over 2 million COVID-19 death projection due to partnership and collaboration of its leaders.

Nkengaso said that accurate diagnosis and power of partnership where public and private sector came together to solve a common problem, were other factors that assisted Africa in navigating the pandemic.

“We were told by the Taskforce in Geneva that after a period of two months the continent will witness over 2million deaths, so we decided as a continent to regroup and figure out ways to diagnose ourselves,” Nkengaso said.

Mr Kofi Nyame, one of the MSH supply chain experts, said the role of pharmaceutical system in this pandemic era should be to get the people ready for other pandemics.

COVID-19 has served as a magnifying lens for us; it has exposed the inherent weaknesses.

“We know that substandard products are all over in Africa and a greater percentage of our medicines are substandard but the only way out is to strengthen the pharmaceutical systems to ensure that the service delivery is properly monitored.

“We need to ensure that there is a system to regulate, select and distribute medicine. This is how to ensure quality and efficacy,” Nyame said.

He advocated for good supply chain management, strong regulator and use of modern tools to mitigate crisis as solutions to providing faster access to quality medical products during and post COVID-19 era.

(
Edited By: Peter Ejiofor)
Source: NAN

https://nnn.ng/pharmaceutical-products-nigeria-plans-60-local-production/
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