Foreign

U.S. “demonization” of China might put itself in financial peril: Washington Post

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Insulting and demonizing China, the second largest creditor of the United States, just for domestic political reasons sure doesn’t seem like the way to go about it, as it would instead put America in financial predicament, the Washington Post said on Friday.


“Blaming China for the coronavirus might seem like smart politics, but insulting a creditor when the U.S. is running up a huge debt to stimulate the economy isn’t a good idea,” Allan Sloan said in his columnist article on the newspaper.

In the last three months, according to U.S. Treasury statistics, the U.S. national debt has risen by astounding 2 trillion U.S. dollars to about 25.4 trillion dollars and will rocket upward in future months.

“So where’s the money going to come from? Historically, China has been a huge buyer of (U.S.) Treasury securities, and owned 1.08 trillion dollars of them as of March 31, the most recent date for which (U.S.) Treasury numbers are available. China’s holdings rank second, behind Japan’s 1.27 trillion dollars,” he wrote.

In his article, Sloan, a business journalist who used to serve Fortune magazine before working for the Washington Post, lists two political reasons that lead the Trump administration to attack China day in and day out.

“First, they need a scapegoat for the disastrous impact that the coronavirus pandemic is having on the lives and economic welfare of Americans, and to divert attention away from their own failings,” he said.

“Second, it’s helpful politically — although not morally or socially — to demonize ‘the other.’ It lets (U.S. President Donald) Trump play offense rather than defense and try to get Americans to rally around the flag by claiming to be the protector of our country against evil foreigners,” he added.

He noted that the United States has been trying to shift blame over the COVID-19 pandemic to its second largest creditor, right as America itself is running massive budget deficits as part of its attempt to stimulate the economy and limit the financial damage that COVID-19 is inflicting on its people, businesses and institutions.

Sloan also reminded the U.S. administration to “see if China attempts to counterattack Trump and undermine the dollar by selling some of its existing Treasury holdings or by announcing that its days of helping finance U.S. deficits have come to an end.”

“It’s easy to dismiss this as political posturing. But if I were a foreign lender, I’d sure be wary of lending money to the United States when it’s run by a president who acts on impulse, rules by decree and might just decide one day to declare the U.S. IOUs held by any particular country to be null and void,” Sloan said in his article.

“We need lenders, especially foreign lenders, to help finance our budget gap by buying vast amounts of ultra-low-yielding securities,” he added.

(XINHUA)

https://nnn.ng/u-s-demonization-of-china-might-put-itself-in-financial-peril-washington-post/

Tourism

African tourism leaders recommend MICE for sectoral recovery 

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Some African tourism leaders on Monday advised tourism practitioners on the development of meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions (MICE) as viable platforms to revamp the tourism industry post COVID-19.


 

These tourism leaders cutting across countries such as: South Africa, Rwanda, Uganda, Ghana and Kenya, gave the advice at the 16th AKWAABA Africa Travel and Tourism Market’s conference held online.

 

The roundtable was organised by Mr Ikechi Uko, with the theme: “Is MICE a Viable Pathway for Tourism Recovery in Africa?’’

 

They said that the growth of MICE was critical to the revival of the African tourism landscape, considering the losses recorded in the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.

 

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions is a type of tourism in which large groups usually plan well in advance and are brought together.

 

Rick Taylor, Chief Executive Officer, Business Tourism Company, said that MICE in Africa was pretty new but started in the United States since 1714.

 

Taylor said that enormous opportunities would be available if MICE was properly developed in Africa.

 

“We need to work on returning to embrace our meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions because it was observed that an hour of physical meeting is only as effective as 5 zoom meetings, 10 phone calls and 20 emails.

 

“Some 14 new ideas were likely to be generated during physical meetings but only 7 ideas would be gotten from online meetings,’’ he said.

 

Also, Mr Alain St.Ange, former Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture, said that the MICE market was an important one in the tourism industry, adding that there was need to discover more Africans who would be dedicated to work in grooming tourism.

 

He advised Africans to work together to achieve common goals of revamping the tourism industry and create global competitiveness.

 

“Tourism is the pillar of the Seychelles economy and with a population of 100,000 people, we are able to sustain the country through the returns on tourism.

 

MICE is an important market in tourism, it needs to be developed rightly,’’ he said.

 

Nelly Mukazayire, Chief Executive Officer, Rwanda Convention Bureau, also attested to the fact that MICE was one of the innovative ways for revenue creation which Africans must leverage upon.

 

Mukazayire said that MICE had been focused on in Rwanda since 2014, recording about 591 successful MICE events in 2017, as the country generated over U$212 that same year.

 

She said that MICE’s contribution to revenue growth in the country was about 12 per cent, before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

According to her, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous events were postponed and the country recorded losses to the tune of $8m.

 

“Rwanda is open to MICE, domestic tourism and travels now, the government has set up platforms to ensure tourists’ safety, who either come for leisure or business opportunities.

 

“The Rwandan government has established economic recovery funds, created home grown events that align with our investment priorities; Rwanda is a unique destination for events and MICE is guaranteed,’’ she said.

 

Jacinta Nzioka, National Coordinator, Kenya National Convention Bureau, said that the business of MICE had sustained the country as a tourist destination, adding that the Kenyan government was working with the private sector to further grow MICE.

 

Nzioka said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 97 tourism events were cancelled and over 42,000 jobs were lost.

 

She said when International travels began, 16 per cent arrivals were recorded to be on purpose of business, which she described as encouraging.

 

Nzioka encouraged African tourism practitioners to accelerate the growth of Information Communication Technology (ICT), to further develop MICE.

 

“Currently, we have stimulus packages for the hospitality sector, and recovery funds to restart the industry all put together by the Kenyan government; we see a bright future for MICE in Kenya,’’ she said.

 

Nzioka advised Africans to work unanimously to complement one another’s efforts in the development of MICE and not for competitive purposes.

 

Mr Bradford Ochieng, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Uganda Tourism Board, said that the board had prioritised the promotion and development of business tourism to diversify the country’s tourism offerings and encompass more than leisure.

 

Ochieng said this was expected to increase the number of tourist arrivals, receipt and earnings from business travellers.

 

He said currently, the board was trying to partner with the private sector to develop affordable travel packages to revamp the industry.

 

COVID-19 has dealt with the industry; before the COVID-19 pandemic, we had 60 per cent hotel occupancy across the country but we now have about 10 per cent, with lots of events cancelled

 

“The MICE industry is an emerging one in the Ugandan economy, the Ugandan tourism board will continue to prioritise both leisure and business travels.

 

“We want to tell everyone that we are ready for MICE and planning to invest more in hotels, convention centres and all,’’ he said.

Edited By: Idonije Obakhedo
Source: NAN

 

https://nnn.ng/african-tourism-leaders-recommend-mice-for-sectoral-recovery/
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COVID-19

Health Minister says 10% of COVID-19 cases are under-19

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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.


Ehanire made this disclosure at the daily briefing of the PTF on COVID-19 on Monday in Abuja.

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
Source: NAN

 

 

 

https://nnn.ng/health-minister-says-10-of-covid-19-cases-are-under-19/
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COVID-19

NCDC, NIMR, partners to conduct COVID-19 antibody tests in 4 states

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COVID-19

Abuja, Sept. 21, The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Nigeria Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and their partners are conducting anti-bodies household surveys in four states in Nigeria.

Speaking at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on Monday in Abuja, the Director general of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu ​​​​​​said the tests are being conducted to better understand the burden of COVID-19 infection in Nigeria.

“These seroprevalence surveys, which will be carried out in Gombe, Enugu, Nasarawa and Lagos states would provide the best evidence yet, on the extent of COVID-19 infection in the country.

“The seroprevalence surveys are used to identify the occurrence of disease in a population by estimating the presence of antibodies in individuals who have had the disease.

“This is done by testing blood samples in randomly selected households in selected states.

“For Nigeria’s COVID-19 seroprevalence survey, household members will answer a brief questionnaire, be tested for the presence of COVID-19 antibodies, as well as for acute COVID-19, if they consent.

“In addition to this, study participants will also have a rapid malaria test and receive treatment if the test is positive,” he said.

Ihekweazu, said, this is the first set of household surveys to be conducted for COVID-19 in Nigeria and as part of ongoing public health research activities.

“The surveys will increase the current understanding of COVID-19 transmission patterns, the burden of infection in the population, and the age groups most affected.

“This information will help inform COVID-19 response decisions by the Government of Nigeria and partners as part of measures towards ending the pandemic.

” The surveys will also estimate the proportion of people who have COVID-19 but are not showing any symptoms, that is asymptomatic.

“Through this, the country can identify risk factors for infection and measure the transmission of COVID-19 within households,” he explained.

By administering rapid malaria tests, he said, the surveys will also assess malaria infections and their possible relationship to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The results from the surveys, he added, will inform the response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria.

He also stated that the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (US-CDC) and the University College London (supported by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) are supporting the NCDC and NIMR in implementing these surveys.

He also said that while the United States CDC’s implementing partner, the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), would also support the State Ministries of Health with implementation.

The News Agency of Nigeria, reports that the surveys will be conducted between September and November, and preliminary results are expected to be released by December 2020.

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza
Source: NAN

https://nnn.ng/ncdc-nimr-partners-to-conduct-covid-19-antibody-tests-in-4-states/

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General news

COVID-19: PTF warns against neglect of protocols

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The Presidential Task Force (PTF), on COVID-19 has warned against perceived neglect of the non-pharmaceutical protocols and other measures aimed at tackling the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the country.


The PTF chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, gave the warning at the daily briefing by the PTF on Monday in Abuja.

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
Source: NAN

 

 

https://nnn.ng/covid-19-ptf-warns-against-neglect-of-protocols/
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