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NDDC says late finance director died of COVID-19

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The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) says its Executive Director of Finance and Administration, Chief Ibanga Etang, died of complications from Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Mr. Charles Odili, the NDDC Director of Corporate Affairs, said this in a statement in Port Harcourt on Tuesday amid controversies that trailed Etang’s death on May 28.

It was recalled that after the death of Etang, the commission shut its head office in Port Harcourt and directed its staff to go on self-isolation immediately.

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This had fueled speculations that the director died from complications of COVID-19, but the commission later dismissed the reports on the cause of Etang’s death.

Odili, however, said the family of the deceased has now authorized NDDC management to announce that the late executive director tested positive for Coronavirus.

“Our late executive director, Ibanga Etang who passed away in the early hours of May 28, tested positive to COVID-19 as confirmed by his family.

“The Rivers State Ministry of Health has written to NDDC, confirming the cause of death to be COVID-19.

“The ministry has directed the commission to order all management staff to go into self-isolation for a period of 14 days with effect from June 2,” he said.

Odili said the health ministry also sought the cooperation of organizations doing business with NDDC to trace their staff and contractors who had close contact with the deceased.

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The NDDC spokesman said the family of Etang and NDDC management were pleading to members of the public against politicizing the death of the executive director.

“We wish to be left alone to mourn him with dignity while we pray for the peaceful repose of the soul of Etang,” he appealed.

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LASG warns against drain stuffing

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The Lagos State Government on Sunday appealed to residents to stop dumping refuse into drains, which was reducing the life span of road infrastructure across the state.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Mrs. Aramide Adeyoye said this while inspecting urgent palliative works being carried out by the Lagos State Public Works Corporation on Mile 2 section of Lagos – Badagry Expressway.

Adeyoye said the inspection was part of efforts to promote sustainability of roads,

“Though the rehabilitation and expansion work on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway is progressing as scheduled, it has become necessary to intervene and make the Mile 2 section of the road motorable for commuters plying the route,” she said.

A statement by Mr. Shina Odunuga, spokesman of the ministry, said Adeyoye visited the site in company with the Special Adviser to the Governor on Drainage, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, and called for attitudinal change by residents.

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She lamented the huge volume of the refuse removed during the palliative works from the drains along the Mile 2 section and its attendant impact on the dilapidated state of the road.

According to the Special Adviser, a road is as good as its drains as dumping refuse inside drains compromises the integrity of the asphaltic surface.

“It also undermines the durability of the roads, especially now that the rains are here; without a functional drainage system, the roads provided cannot be sustained”, she said.

Adeyoye sought the support of residents to curb wastage from continuous funding of road rehabilitation only for them to degenerate after a short time.

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The special adviser stressed the need for the repair works to be allowed to last, to prevent a situation where the state would start grappling with bad roads again after the rainy season.

“Now that palliative is being provided, it is also important to address the root cause of the state of the roads by changing our habits.

” By changing our habits, our roads will last longer, and refraining from indiscriminate dumping of refuse into the drains will prevent flooding and the attendant bad roads.

“When drains are provided for roads, they are not meant for solid waste disposal, rather they are pathways for water to run.

“When the drains are choked and the cross culverts are blocked, the asphalt surface will become waterlogged thereby accelerating the rate of dilapidation of the roads,” she said.

Adeyoye advised residents to take ownership of the road infrastructure and keep faith with the governor on the implementation of the THEMES Agenda.

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Russian COVID-19 cases rise by 6,736 to 681,251

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Russia recorded 6,736 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking its total to 681,251, the country’s coronavirus response center said in a statement on Sunday.

The death toll rose by 134 to 10,161, while 450,750 people have recovered, including 3,871 over the last 24 hours, said the statement.

Moscow, the country’s worst-hit region, reported 650 newly-confirmed cases, taking its tally of infections to 224,860.

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On Saturday, 280,347 people were still under medical observation, while more than 21 million virus tests have been conducted nationwide, Russia’s consumer rights and human well-being watchdog said on Sunday in a separate statement.

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Africa records over 444,000 cases of COVID-19

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, Congo, says there are currently over 444,000 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Africa.

The UN health agency gave an update on its regional official Twitter account @WHOAFRO.

“There are over 444,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases on the African continent – with more than 214,000 recoveries and 10,800 deaths,’’ it said.

The regional office stated that South Africa has 177,124 cases and 2,952 deaths, followed by Nigeria with 27,564 confirmed cases and 628 deaths, while Ghana has 18,892 confirmed cases and 117 deaths.

It added that Gambia, Lesotho, and Seychelles were countries currently with the lowest confirmed cases in the region as the Gambia had 55 confirmed cases with two deaths.

Lesotho had 63 reported cases and zero death, while Seychelles had 81 reported cases with no death, “the office said.
Meanwhile, WHO in a statement posted on its website urged African countries to take strong safety measures against COVID-19 as they resumed air travel.

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“As African countries begin to reopen borders and air spaces, it is crucial that governments take effective measures to mitigate the risk of a surge in infections due to the resumption of commercial flights and airport operations.

“Many African governments acted swiftly, implementing confinement and travel restrictions in the early days of the pandemic.

“In the WHO African Region, 36 countries closed their borders to international travel, eight suspended flights from countries with high COVID-19 transmission, and others had partial or no restrictions.

“So far Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Tanzania, and Zambia have resumed commercial flights. The 15-member Economic Community of West African States is expected to open their airspace on July 21.

“While open borders are vital for the free flow of goods and people, initial analysis by WHO found that lockdowns along with public health measures reduced the spread of COVID-19.’’

The UN health agency said even with border restrictions, imported cases had sometimes brought back COVID-19 to countries that had not reported cases for a length of time.

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“For example, Seychelles had not had a locally transmitted case since April 6, 2020, but in the last week 66 new cases – all crew members of an international fishing vessel – have been recorded,’’ it said.

The statement quoted Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, as saying: “Air travel is vital to the economic health of countries.

“But as we take to the skies again, we cannot let our guard down. Our new normal still requires stringent measures to stem the spread of COVID-19.’’

To resume international air travel, WHO recommended that countries assess the epidemiological situation to determine whether maintaining restrictions outweighs the economic costs of reopening borders if, for instance, there is the widespread transmission of the virus.

“It is also crucial to determine whether the health system can cope with a spike in imported cases and whether the surveillance and contact tracing system can reliably detect and monitor cases.”

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According to the statement, it is important that countries have systems in place at points of entry including airports.

“Comprehensive entry and exit screening should be considered based on risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis, and as part of the overall national response strategy.

“Such screening may target, as a priority, direct flights from areas with community transmission. In addition, observance of preventive measures such as personal hygiene, cough etiquette, physical distancing remains crucial.

“Passengers should be registered and followed up, and if they develop symptoms be advised to inform health authorities.’’

The statement further quoted Moeti, as saying: “The resumption of commercial flights in Africa will facilitate the delivery of crucial supplies such as testing kits.

“It will also facilitate the delivery of supplies such as personal protective equipment and other essential health commodities to areas that need them most.

“It will also ensure that experts, who can support the response can finally get on the ground and work.”

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