World Health Organisation (WHO), Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, says he will meet with Chinese government and health experts supporting the coronavirus response.
Ghebreyesus said this on his tweeter [email protected] Tedros on Sunday that he was already on his way to Beijing to meet with the government and health experts working in that regard.
“My WHO colleagues and I would like to understand the latest development and strengthen our partnership with China in providing further protection against outbreak.
“We are working 24/7 to support China and its people during this difficult time and remain in close contact with affected countries, with our regional and country offices deeply involved.
“WHO is updating all countries on the situation and providing specific guidance on what to do to respond.
“Building on experience and systems already in place for related pathogen, WHO has activated global networks of experts, quickly developed advice for countries everywhere and it is working with them to activate their response systems.’’
Meanwhile, the UN health agency said risk of spreading the infection was very high in China, high at the regional level and moderate at the global level.
China has confirmed 1,975 cases of patients infected with the new coronavirus, while the death toll from the virus has risen to 56.
The virus originated from the central Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei in 2019 and has spread to Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai.
It has also spread to the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Australia, France and Canada.
Edited By: Felix Ajide
World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised Member States to be ready for timely detection and management of any outbreak, especially coronavirus as the death toll in China hit 56.
China has confirmed 1,975 cases of patients infected with the new coronavirus while the death toll from the virus has risen to 56.
The WHO said on its tweeter [email protected] that the situation had not changed in China, at the regional and global level.
“WHO’s risk assessment of the new coronavirus has not change.
“ The risk of spreading the infection is very high in China, it is high at the regional level and it is moderate at the global level.’’
The UN health agency said the evolving outbreak that began in China is “a sign that every country needs to be ready to timely detect and manage outbreaks of any type.’’
WHO’s Regional Office for Europe had officially been notified of the first novel #coronavirus cases in Europe.
Three cases have been confirmed in France and WHO is in contact with the relevant authorities.
All of them had travelled from Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus, and are now hospitalised in France.
WHO, however, commended France for quickly notifying the agency and rapidly issuing a public communication, saying “that it not only exemplified the proper steps forward, but also illustrated “an example of global collaboration and solidarity.”
WHO maintained that the first confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Europe were not unexpected.
“They remind us that the global nature of travels exempts no country from infectious disease spread.
“This also means that no country can afford postponing the establishment of all necessary measures to protect their people,” it stated.
The virus originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei in 2019 and has spread to Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai.
It has also spread to the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Australia, France and Canada.
edoted by Sadiya Hamza
The Embassy of the United States of America in Nigeria has commended the initiative of Dorian Home for Charity and Social Development, situated in Idanre, Idanre Local Government area of Ondo State.
Mr Aruna Amirthanayagam, the Counsellor for Public Affairs of the embassy, gave the commendation on Friday during his visit to the charity home.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that the Home, which is almost completed, has capacity for 600 babies at a time, targeting orphans of between 0 and 10 years old orphans.
NAN also reports that the Home is being built by an indigene of the town, who prefers anonymity.
“This initiative is very commendable and I have never seen this in the country, even in Africa. I have been to different states in Nigeria in the last three years and I have seen different projects, but this is different.
“I am a testimony to this generosity and commitment of one individual and I wish it is successful,” Amirthanayagam said.
He promised that the embassy would facilitate assistance for the Home from some institutions in US.
According to him, US mission provides exchange programmes and brings expatriates on short visit to such initiatives.
Also speaking, Sen. Tayo Alasoadura, the Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, described the initiative as laudable.
Alasoadura added that the concept of the initiative was bigger than the general ‘motherless home’ initiative.
“It is an initiative of a young lady who has put resources together to help others.
“The concept is bigger than that of mere orphanage and it is a project that any sane person should love and support. I am supporting it,” he said.
The minister said that people with large hearts would come to the aid of the initiative, saying that it was a fantastic organisation.
He promised to render necessary assistance to ensure that the beneficiaries were comfortable.
Mrs Titi Adeyemi, the state Commissioner for Woman Affairs and Social Development, also described the initiative as a selfless service to the society, saying that the state government was happy and pleased with it.
While calling for the support of philanthropists, donors and corporate bodies, she added that an initiative of such magnitude could not be sustained by just an individual.
Edited By: Muftau Adediran and ‘Wale Sadeeq
On Thursday, the Department of State announced amendments to some visa regulations aimed at curtailing what is known as “birth tourism’’ in the United States.
Birth tourism is a practice whereby pregnant foreign nationals travel to the U.S. to give birth for the purpose of obtaining American citizenship for the child.
The updated rules, which came into force on Friday, apply to pregnant applicants for B-1 visa meant for business visits, and B-2 visa for pleasure, tourism and medical visits.
Under the new policy, pregnant women applying for either of the two visa types have to convince consular officers that they are travelling to the U.S. to give birth for reasons other than obtaining American citizenship for the child.
Before now, traveling to the U.S. to give birth for the purpose of obtaining citizenship for a child, otherwise known as “birth tourism” was a permissible basis for the issuance of a B non-immigrant visa.
“The Department does not believe that ‘birth tourism’ is a legitimate activity for pleasure or of a recreational nature,” the policy document stated.
The President Donald Trump administration says the new rules are aimed at checking “endemic abuses’’ of the visas and protecting the U.S. from attendant national security risks.
Under the U.S. Constitution, anyone born in the country automatically becomes a citizen, a policy that Trump condemns for producing what he calls “anchor babies’’ and birthright citizenship.
The new regulations also apply to B-2 visa applicants seeking medical treatment in the U.S. Henceforth, they must also show proof of their arrangements for such treatment and prove their ability to pay all associated costs.
On Thursday afternoon, a senior state department official gave further insight into the new changes during a background media briefing on the via teleconference.
The Nigeria News Agency participated in the conference and now presents excerpts of the question and answer session:
Question: How exactly are consular officers going to determine whether a person’s primary purpose of traveling is to give birth? Will you be asking all women who appear to be of childbearing age whether that is their intention?
This will not be a question that officers are asking all female applicants. They were expressly told that they should not be including this as a question to ask all female applicants. Officers would only raise this topic of primary purpose if they have a specific reason to believe that an applicant is pregnant and planning to give birth in the United States. At that point, the officer would have to determine what the primary purpose of travel is. In other words, is it to give birth in the United States to obtain U.S. citizenship for a child? Or is it some other rebuttable presumption, rebuttable reason that they would provide for giving birth in the United States?
All of our visa interviews for non-immigrant visas, for B-1/B-2 visitor visas, are conversations between the adjudicating consular officer and the applicant to determine eligibility for a visa, and our officers are highly trained professionals who already deal with a number of sensitive topics during visa interviews. And all applicants must currently demonstrate a credible, permissible purpose of travel.
Question: Could you get into more specifics of what that specific reasons might be, given that they are not allowed to ask explicit questions if a woman is pregnant or not? The White House has pointed to a national security concern behind this rule change. What specific concerns were those?
The most basic way would be that the applicant themselves notes on their visa application form that their purpose of travel is for medical treatment. That would then obviously lead to a conversation over what type of medical treatment the applicant is seeking. Those are conversations that happen every day already as we determine that applicants overcome the presumption of immigrant intent and that they have the financial ability to pay for whatever treatment it is they’re seeking.
With regard to the national security concerns, first off, we would say that obviously, travel for this purpose is incompatible, we feel, with temporary travel for pleasure on a visitor visa. Permitting short-term visitors with no demonstrable ties to the United States to obtain visas to travel to the U.S. primarily to obtain U.S. citizenship for a child creates a potential long-term vulnerability for the United States. As noted in the rule, foreign governments or entities, including entities of concern to the United States, may seek to benefit from birth tourism for purposes that would threaten the security of the United States.
This is a stark difference between aliens using a temporary visitor visa for the purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for their children and the extensive requirements applicants must meet to immigrate and naturalise to become U.S. citizens. The previous regulation failed to address the national security vulnerability and this is why we have made the change.
Question: Is a consular officer allowed to ask a visa applicant if she is pregnant? You said they won’t bring it up in all cases, but is the consular officer allowed to make that determination just by looking at an applicant?
: As to the questioning, I would just note every visa case is unique. The interview questions are tailored to the circumstances of each applicant. As I noted, consular officers have been directed not to ask all female applicants if they are pregnant or intend to become pregnant. What we are driving at here is what the actual primary purpose of travel is. Officers would only raise this topic if they have a specific, articulable reason to believe that a visa applicant may be pregnant and planning to give birth in the United States.
All visa applicants have to demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the consular officer, that they are qualified for the visa for which they are applying. We are committed to treating all applicants fairly and with respect. Our officers are highly trained professionals who already deal with a number of sensitive topics.
Question: How are consular officers going to determine the costs of certain medical treatments to evaluate if they think an applicant could afford those costs?
process for how we assess an applicant’s ability to pay for medical treatment is not impacted by this rule. We are already determining, as part of our visa interview, as part of an applicant’s sort of overall eligibility for a B1/B2 visa, that medical treatment costs would be covered by the applicant, that they have the ability – financial ability, in some way to do that.
Question: Would consular officers be allowed to require pregnancy tests, or ask for pregnancy tests?
Officers are not allowed to require any sort of pregnancy test. Again, the thrust of this is that the primary purpose of travel – it is not the pregnancy; it is the primary purpose of why the applicant wants to give birth in the United States.
Question: To reiterate what a previous colleague said, visual cues can be used as part of a consular officer’s assessment. Is that correct? You said the totality, so that seems to include visual cues.
There is no change in the rule that would regulate the questions consular officers could ask from one day to the other. So, this would be tied up in the natural, normal conversations that occur in visa interviews. I would simply highlight that the change from our current regulations to this regulation and how we operationalise these interviews is adding a prong for the actual purpose of travel. In other words, because an applicant is pregnant, because an applicant wants to give birth in the United States, does not mean the applicant will be refused the visa. It is the third prong that this rule changes, which is what is the reason you want to go to the United States to give birth? We have always, in cases where applicants are pregnant and have a desire to give birth, done a calculus to determine their eligibility for the visa based on (1) are they an intending immigrant to the United States and (2) will they be paying for their own – for their medical treatment or will the cost be covered in some other way?
We are now simply adding to it that this particular purpose of travel – going to the United States for the purpose of giving birth to a child to obtain U.S. citizenship – is not going to be allowed as pleasure travel. However, an applicant, who is pregnant, who is planning to give birth in the United States but is going for some other primary purpose of travel – visiting a sick relative, going for business meetings – they could still be issued their visa. An applicant who is pregnant, who has no desire or no plan to give birth in the United States, would certainly still be issued a visa for whatever their other primary purpose of travel is. It’s only impacting the segment of traveler who’s going for this specific purpose…
NAN reports that the U.S. government has no records of the number of women who travel to the U.S. specifically to give birth or the number of babies born to visitors each year.
But the Centre for Immigration Studies, a group that advocates stringent immigration laws, estimated that 36,000 female foreigners gave birth in the U.S. and then left the country.
Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has put all airline operators, Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP) and Aerodrome Operators on alert over the outbreak of Coronavirus. The General Manager, Public Affairs, Mr Sam Adurogboye made this known in a statement issued in Lagos on Thursday. Adurogboye said the alert was contained in a letter by the Acting Director General, NCAA, Capt. Sidi Abdullahi. The NCAA official said it had called for a high level of vigilance by airlines, especially those operating international and regional flights, all designated point of entries (POEs) and travelling public. Adurogboye said in the letter sent to the airlines, all operators were therefore required to carry out the following: “Pilots in Command (PIC) of aircraft are to report to the Air Traffic Control (ATC) any suspected cases of communicable disease on board an aircraft in line with Nig. CARs 126.96.36.199. “In case of a suspected case of communicable disease on board an aircraft, the aircrew are to fill the aircraft General Declaration (Gen Dec) in line with Nig. CARs 188.8.131.52 and Annex 8 of International Health Regulations (IHR 2005). “Completed aircraft General Declaration are to be submitted to the Port Health Services (PHS) on arrival at the designated point of entry. “Sick passengers on board an aircraft are to be required by the crew to fill a Passenger Locator form in line with Nig.CARs 184.108.40.206. “The completed Passenger Locator Forms are to be submitted to Port Health Services (PHS) on arrival at the designated point of entry,” he said. Adurogboye explained that airlines must have onboard the appropriate number of First Aid Kits, Universal Precaution kits and Emergency Medical kits according to the provisions of Nig.CARs 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168. He said airlines must update the knowledge of their crew members in the handling of communicable disease on board an aircraft. Adurogboye said cabin crew should follow the operational procedures recommended by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and their airlines’ Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) in handling possible cases of communicable diseases on board an aircraft. “They are to ensure that passengers with symptoms of acute respiratory infection exercises cough etiquette maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues and wash hands thoroughly. “Passengers should be encouraged by the crew to self-report if they feel ill while airlines are to contact Port Health Services for clearance before importing human remains into the country. “Designated points of entries are to ensure stakeholders collaboration in the handling of a suspected case of communicable disease in line with their respective Public Health Emergency Contigency Plans (PHECPs). “Routine measures, train staff, provide appropriate space, stockpiling of adequate equipment including Personal Protective Equipment should be in place at POE. “The equipment will be used in assessing and managing ill travellers detected before travel on board aircraft and on arrival,” he said. Adurogboye said the procedures were in place for communicating information on ill travellers between aircraft and POE and between POEs and National Health Authorities. He said safe transportation of symptomatic passengers to hospitals or designated facilities for clinical assessment and treatment was organised. The NCAA official said airlines and POEs were to report to it in writing any suspected case of communicable disease observed in flight or at any Point of Entry (POE) – International Airport. He said the authority therefore expected strict compliance to the Standard and Recommended Practices (SARPs) as enumerated above. Adurogboye, however, warned that failure to adhere to these guidelines would be viewed seriously by the authority. The Nigeria News Agency reports that the novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov) broke out in Wuhan City, Hubei Province in China recently. The clinical signs and symptoms of the virus are mainly fever and difficulty in breathing (Coughing, sneezing etc.). Presently the virus has spread to other countries including Thailand, Republic of Korea, United States of America and Japan . Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Ismail Abdulaziz
World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised all countries to prepare for containment, including active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing and prevention of onward spread of Coronavirus.
The WHO Emergency Committee gave the advice on Thursday after two days meeting held in Geneva to deliberate whether coronavirus was a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) or not.
In a statement, the UN health agency, declared that Novel Coronavirus was not yet an official PHEIC but said countries should expect that further international exportation of cases may appear in any country.
“Countries should place particular emphasis on reducing human infection, prevention of secondary transmission and international spread.
“They should also place emphasis on contributing to the international response though multi-sectoral communication and collaboration and active participation in increasing knowledge on the virus and the disease, as well as advancing research.’’
According to the statement, the disease has spread rapidly to several countries including Japan, Singapore and the USA.
Director-General of WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus said the outbreak poses a “very high risk” in China as well as regionally and globally; there’s still a lot we do not know.
“We know that among those infected, one quarter of patients have experienced severe disease and that it can kill.
“We know that most of those who have died had underlying health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease that weakened their immune systems.
“We know that there is human-to-human transmission in China, but for now it appears limited to family groups and health workers caring for infected patients.
“At this time there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission outside China, but that doesn’t mean it would not happen,” he said.
He said that as of Thursday evening, 584 cases had been reported to WHO, including 17 deaths; the vast majority of cases (575) had been reported in China.
Cases have also been reported in Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, the United States of America and Vietnam, with further possible cases being investigated in other countries; among them, the United Kingdom.
The WHO chief acknowledged that there were still many unknown factors: “We don’t know the source of this virus.
“We do not understand how easily it spreads and we don’t fully understand its clinical features or severity.
“WHO is working with our partners night and day in China and the other affected countries at the regional level, and here at headquarters, to fill the gaps in our knowledge as quickly as possible,” he said.
The WHO chief warned that the agency’s decision should not be taken as a sign that it is doing nothing: “WHO is following this outbreak every minute of every day.
“At a country, regional and global level, we’re working to prevent human to human transmission.
“We have provided guidance to all countries for the rapid identification, management and containment of the virus based on the sequence we’ve got from China.
“We’re coordinating our networks of global experts. We’re working to advance the development of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines. We are completely committed,’’ he said.
Nigeria News Agency reports that Novel coronavirus was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan on Dec. 31, 2019.
Edited By: Ismail Abdulaziz
The U.S. Department of State has introduced new regulations to stop “birth tourism’’, the practice of giving birth in the country to obtain American citizenship for a child.
The rules, which take effect on Friday, would make it harder for pregnant foreign nationals to enter the United States on tourism visas.
According to the policy document published by local media on Thursday, the regulations would apply to B nonimmigrant visas.
“The Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs (“Department”), is amending its regulation governing the issuance of visas in the “B” nonimmigrant classification for temporary visitors for pleasure.
“This rule establishes that travel to the United States with the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for a child by giving birth in the United States is an impermissible basis for the issuance of a B nonimmigrant visa.
“Consequently, a consular officer shall deny a B nonimmigrant visa to an alien who he or she has reason to believe intends to travel for this primary purpose,’’ it said.
The department said it did not believe that birth tourism was a legitimate activity for pleasure or of a recreational nature.
In a statement, White House Press Secretary, Stephanie Grisham, said the rules were necessary to address “endemic abuses’’ of the tourism visas and protect the U.S. from attendant national security risks.
“Closing this glaring immigration loophole will combat these endemic abuses and ultimately protect the United States from the national security risks created by this practice.
“It will also defend American taxpayers from having their hard-earned dollars siphoned away to finance the direct and downstream costs associated with birth tourism.
“The integrity of American citizenship must be protected,” she said.
Edited By: Maharazu Ahmed
Authorities on Wednesday reported that the first case of coronavirus has been reported in the United States. The Wuhan coronavirus, which has left nine people dead in China and 473 more in hospital, has spread to the U.S. with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention registering a case in Seattle, Washington. The virus, which was first spotted in China, has spread throughout Asia and threatens to go global. U.S. President Donald Trump, said “we do have a plan (coronavirus) and we think it is going to be handled very well. We’ve already handled it very well. The CDC is terrific, very professional.’’ The 2019-nCoV virus was first spotted in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December, 2019 and the symptoms include coughing, difficult breathing and fever and it can develop into a potentially fatal pneumonia. It has spread from Hubei province to Beijing, Shanghai, Macau, Hong Kong and has been detected in patients in Japan, South Korea, Thailand and now the United States. Taiwan also reported its first case on Tuesday, Jan. 21. Efforts are being made to quarantine travellers who may have been to Wuhan, a metropolis in central China which has a population of around 19 million. The UK government said flights from Wuhan to London would be isolated in a corner of Heathrow airport’s Terminal 4, where a health team would screen patients before they were allowed to enter the country. Prof. Calum Semple, an expert in outbreak medicine at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, told the BBC it took five days for symptoms to manifest themselves and he questioned how the Department of Health team could be sure the passengers did not have the virus. This weekend sees the start of the Lunar New Year celebrations around the world, a time when traditionally millions of Chinese people travel home or to see their family abroad. The Year of The Rat officially begins on Saturday, Jan. 25, but festivities last until Feb. 4. China’s Health Vice-Minister, Li Bin told reporters that “the rise in the mobility of the public has objectively increased the risk of the epidemic spreading and the difficulty of prevention and control.’’ The World Health Organisation (WHO) is to hold an emergency meeting amid fears that the virus which may have crossed over to humans from animals could turn into a pandemic. The virus is believed to spread respiratory transmission like coughing or sneezing, but the Director-General of China’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, said it was adapting and mutating. The Chinese authorities have isolated 2,197 people who were in contact with infected people while another 765 have been released after being observed for several weeks. There is currently no vaccine for 2019-nCoV and 15 nurses in China have contracted it through contact with patients. In 2002, another virus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), emerged from China and killed 800 people around the world. In the case of SARS, the virus crossed from animals to humans because people in China were eating infected civet cats. The WHO and the Chinese authorities are believed to be exploring the possibility that the source of the coronavirus may be a market in Wuhan where wildlife is traded illegally. The WHO said an animal source was most likely to be the primary source of this outbreak. North Korea, a close ally of China, has banned all foreign tourists from entering the country. Screening is being stepped up at airports in the U.S., Australia, Japan and Singapore. Edited by: Hadiza Mohammed/Maureen Atuonwu
U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday warned that the United States will impose painful tariffs on imports from the European Union unless the block agrees to a trade deal.
“Europe has been very, very tough to deal with,’’ Trump told U.S. broadcaster, CNBC at the World Economic Forum summit in the Swiss town of Davos, one day after meeting European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen there.
Trump complained that EU countries have been exporting significantly more into the U.S. than the other way around.
He claimed that he had restrained himself so far because he was concluding the recent trade deal with China first.
“Look, if we don’t get something, we’ll have to take action and the action will be very high tariffs on cars and other things that come into our country,’’ Trump said.
The president added, however, that he believes that the EU will agree to a deal in the end.
“They’re gonna make a deal because they have to,’’ he said.
The U.S. and the EU are major trading partners.
They exchanged almost $1.3 trillion worth of goods and services in 2018.
A report says reaching a trade agreement is expected to be difficult because Brussels wants to exclude its farming sector from such a deal, while Washington seeks to protect its market for public tenders.
The Trump administration already threatened the EU with 25-per-cent tariffs on cars in 2019, without imposing them.
The EU has made clear that it would retaliate in such a case.
Edited by: Abiodun Oluleye/Abdulfatah Babatunde
The new coronavirus, which originated in China recently, has found its way to the shores of the United States, according to authorities.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), confirmed the development in a statement on its website on Tuesday.
It said the virus had been diagnosed in a traveler, who arrived in Washington on Jan. 15 from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where it broke out in December.
So far, no fewer than six people are reported to have died from the virus, and almost 300 others infected in China.
“The patient sought care at a medical facility in the state of Washington, where the patient was treated for the illness.
“Based on the patient’s travel history and symptoms, healthcare professionals suspected this new coronavirus.
“A clinical specimen was collected and sent to CDC overnight, where laboratory testing yesterday confirmed the diagnosis via CDC’s Real time Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (rRT-PCR) test,’’ it said.
Originally thought to be spreading from animals to humans, there are growing indications that limited person-to-person spread is happening, according to the CDC.
“How easily the virus spreads between humans is unclear at the moment,” the statement said.