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Nigeria: 5.8 million COVID Infections Averted With 2020 Lockdown

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As Nigeria grapples with rising infections caused by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, a team of international public health researchers have revealed that the lockdown and restrictions imposed in the country between March and May 2020 may have averted not less than 5.8 million infections.

The team of researchers drawn from the United States, South Africa and Nigeria, said their findings “support the use of restricted mobility as a measure for infection control in Nigeria.”

They however, pointed out that, even during the lockdown and restrictions, noticeable spikes in people’s movement occurred on Saturdays and Sundays which could be attributed to social events (e.g. parties [or Ówàmbē in a local dialect]) and religious activities.

The research findings which are based on information from confirmed COVID-19 cases provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) from February 27 to July 21 2020 and Nigeria specific mobility data from Google in same period, was published by the highly reputable public health journal JAMA Network Open.

The researchers are drawn from institutions in the United States (i.e. Parexel International, Harvard university and Holly Hill hospital), South Africa (i.e. Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University) and Nigeria (i.e. Benue State University as well as Universities of Ibadan, Lagos and Calabar).

The researchers explained that their work was motivated by the need to better understand how the lockdown affected peoples’ movement and community spread of COVID-19: this information could inform future public health responses to subsequent waves of COVID-19.

“.. our study goals were to measure the association of government-mandated closures and restrictions with aggregate mobility, to evaluate associations between aggregate mobility and number of individuals with laboratory confirmed SARS-COV-2 infections and to estimate the number of SARS COV-2 infections that may have been averted.

They observed that the World Health Organization (WHO), Director General , Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had on January 30, 2020 declared the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, asking all countries to prepare for containment, active surveillance, early detection, isolation, case management and contact tracing.

“Most countries including Nigeria (Africa’s largest economy and the most populous country), responded accordingly, and part of the Nigerian government response included socioeconomic and public health interventions to reduce impact of the pandemic.

“Socio economic interventions included providing cash transfers, lines of credit and food assistance to poor and high-risk households, while public health interventions included government-mandated closures and restrictions on schools, social gatherings and all forms of transportation (locally referred to as lockdown)

The closures and restrictions were initiated on March 30, 2020 and partially eased on May 4, 2020. The researchers used sophisticated statistical techniques to analyze NCDC data on daily infection counts, anonymized Google mobility data from Nigeria (covering about 40 million individuals who activated location history on their smartphone google accounts), and publicly available information on the lockdown (e.g. dates for initiating and partially easing the lockdown).

The cross-sectional study found that government-mandated closures and restrictions in Nigeria owing to COVID-19 was associated with significantly reduced aggregate mobility everywhere (except in residential areas) and may have averted up to 5.8 million corona virus infections. Additionally, they found that community spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria may have been faster in residential areas , transit stations (e.g. motor parks) and workplaces (including likely venues of social events).

While stressing that “our findings support the use of restricted mobility as a measure of infection control in Nigeria should there be additional COVID-19 waves in the future”, the researchers pointed out that “restrictions on movement are unsustainable in the long term, and that “future closure and restrictions, if warranted, need to be more effective.

“Suggested areas of improvement include tougher restrictions on movement and more robust contact tracing in residential areas, transit hubs and workplaces, greater testing capacity and more political support for testing; greater access to COVID-19 data for policy and process evaluation to identify opportunities for efficiency gains: and more personal responsibility above and beyond the public health campaign dubbed the 3 Ws (i.e washing hands (or using hand sanitizer regularly wearing a cloth mask over the nose and mouth, and waiting 6 feet apart (or social distancing).”

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Man With 39 Wives, 94 Children, Dies In India

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Children

The death of Ziona Chana, a 76-year-old patriarch in India who was recently recognized as head of the world’s largest family, has been reported by Indian authorities.

 

Ziona, who was the head of a local Christian sect that permits polygamy, had 39 wives and 94 children.

 

His demise was announced on Sunday by Zoramthanga, the chief minister of his home state, in Mizoram area of northeast India.

 

Zoramthanga broke the news via a tweet.

With a total of 167 members, the late Ziona’s family is the world’s largest, according to local media, although this depends on whether the grandchildren, of whom Ziona has 33, are counted.

 

Aside from Ziona, Winston Blackmore, the head of a polygamous Mormon sect in Canada, who has around 150 children from 27 wives – 178 people in total, is another personality who is close to matching his record.

 

Ziona lived with his family in a vast, four-story pink structure with around 100 rooms in Baktawng, a remote village in Mizoram that became a tourist attraction as a result, according to Zoramthanga.

 

The sect, named “Chana”, was founded by Ziona’s father in 1942 and has a membership of hundreds of families.

 

Ziona married his first wife when he was 17, and claimed he once married ten wives in a single year.

 

They shared a dormitory near his private bedroom, and locals said he liked to have seven or eight of them by his side at all times.

 

Despite his family’s huge size, Ziona told Reuters in a 2011 interview that he wanted to grow it even further.

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Igbo’ll Feel Less Marginalised If They Produce Next President, Says Ngige

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Marginalised

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has said the South-East producing the next president will help in addressing the feelings of marginalisation in the region.

 

He, however, lamented that the 1999 Constitution doesn’t support zoning, which would have boosted the chance of the region in the 2023 presidential election.

 

Ngige who spoke during Channels Television’s Newsnight programme stated that what suits the current situation is the 1995 Constitution by the late General Sani Abacha.

 

“The people in the area have perceived that they are marginalised, that they are unappreciated, whether it was done by propaganda and brainwashing or not, that is now immaterial.

 

“So I agree with that proposal, unfortunately, the Nigerian Constitution does not have that. This is where I quarrel with those who authored the 1999 Constitution.

 

“I still believe today, tomorrow, the Abacha Constitution of 1995 that espouses rotational presidency into the six zones in Nigeria, a single five-year tenure in order to heal all the wounds; the wounds of civil war, and the wound of June 12.

 

“Now, that constitution would have been the best constitution for Nigerians to use for the next 30 years by which the six zones would have tested the presidency,” the minister stated.

 

 

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ECOWAS Court Fixes June Date On Twitter Ban Suit Hearing

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Twitter

The Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States has fixed June 22 for a hearing in the suit challenging the Federal Government’s suspension of the operations of the microblogging platform, Twitter, in Nigeria.

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project and 420 Nigerians, including a former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili and the co-founder of the #BringBackOurGirls movement, Aisha Yesufu, had filed a suit before the court, challenging the unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, criminalisation of Nigerians and other people using Twitter, and the escalating repression of human rights, particularly the rights to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom in the country.

 

In the suit number ECW/CCJ/APP/23/21, the plaintiff sought an order of interim injunction restraining the Federal Government from implementing its suspension of Twitter in Nigeria and subjecting anyone, including media houses, broadcast stations using Twitter in Nigeria to harassment, intimidation, arrest and criminal prosecution, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

 

The plaintiffs stated, “The suspension of Twitter is aimed at intimidating and stopping Nigerians from using Twitter and other social media platforms to assess government policies, expose corruption, and criticise acts of official impunity by the agents of the Federal Government.

 

“The free communication of information and ideas about public and political issues between citizens and elected representatives is essential. This implies a free press and other media able to comment on public issues without censor or restraints and to inform public opinion. The public also has a corresponding right to receive media output.

 

“Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and the full enjoyment of this right is central to achieving individual freedom and to developing democracy. It is not only the cornerstone of democracy but indispensable to a thriving civil society.

 

“The arbitrary action by the Federal Government and its agents has negatively impacted millions of Nigerians who carry on their daily businesses and operational activities on Twitter. The suspension has also impeded the freedom of expression of millions of Nigerians, who criticize and influence government policies through the microblogging app.

 

“The suspension of Twitter is arbitrary, and there is no law in Nigeria today permitting the prosecution of people simply for peacefully exercising their human rights through Twitter and other social media platforms.”

 

However, the court, in a notice to the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) and the respondent’s counsel Maimuna Lami Shiru, stated that the hearing would be virtual.

 

“Notice is hereby given that this application has been fixed for hearing of the Application for Interim Measure on the 22nd day of June 2021 at 10 am and will be heard on that day if the business of the court permits or otherwise on some adjourned day of which you may not receive further notice,” the court stated.

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