Category Archives: Health

On Health matters in Enugu and the Southeast, we collaborate with groups, institutions and home managers. They are stakeholders in the promotion of wellbeing for the population

Free cancer care at UNTH, 5 other hospitals

Federal Government teams up with international agencies to deliver free cancer care at UNTH Enugu and five other specialist hospitals in Nigeria. UNTH is the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital located at Ituku-Ozala in Enugu State.

Indigent cancer patients are to receive funding and health care services under the programme initiative.

However, only indigent patients with cancer of the breast, uterine cervix and prostrate are the target beneficiaries under the programme for now.

Known as the Cancer Health Fund (CHF) Initiative, the programme is a partnership between Nigeria and some international agencies.

Among the foreign partners are American Cancer society, ROCHE, PFIZER, MYLAN, Clinton Health Access Initiative, WWCV, BICON and EMGE resources.

Already, programme officers have commenced registration for those who want assistance under the initiative, a statement from the CHF said.

CHF therefore encouraged cancer patients struggling to pay for their healthcare to take advantage of the programme to register online for the free caner care at UNTH and five other hospitals in Nigeria

 “A set of indigent patients’ selection criteria will be applied to screen and select beneficiaries,” said Dr Uche Nwokwu who signed the statement.

Enugu is the designated centre for the programme in the Southeast, according to the statement.

Similarly, hospitals selected to implement the programme in the other five zones of the country are as follows:

  • National Hospital, Abuja
  • University College of Health (UCH) Ibadan
  • Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH) Zaria
  • Federal Teaching Hospital (FTH) Gombe
  • University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Benin

The Federal Ministry of Health announced in 2021 that the CHF program will commence in six pilot hospitals.

Know the symptoms of Omicron variant

What do we really know in Nigeria about the symptoms of the Covid-19 variant called Omicron? Here’s what you need to protect yourself.

Unfortunately, not much is known about the impact of the new Covid-19 variant except for one thing. Scientists fear that it has the potential to wiggle through the wall of immunity that vaccination erects in people.

Dr Angelique Coetzee, the South African doctor whose research first exposed the Omicron variant published four symptoms of Omicron variant.

  • Muscle aches,
  • Fatigue
  • A scratchy throat
  • Night sweats

Similarly, another study group in London used an app to track vaccinated people who reported symptoms.

They explained in their findings (not peer-reviewed), that those who contracted Omicron commonly complained of cold-like symptoms.

  • A runny nose
  • Headache
  • Fatigue (mild or severe)
  • Sneezing
  • A sore throat

Doctors however disagree on the severity of Omicron, including peoples’ risk of hospitalization.

Dr Coetzee, for instance, says that Omicron symptoms are “very, very mild” compared to the Delta variant.


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Most doctors nevertheless agree that patients don’t lose taste or smell and there aren’t major drops in oxygen levels.

Similarly, doctors said evidence so far suggests that vaccinated persons present less severe symptoms than the unvaccinated.

Protect yourself

There are the common basic safety measures published so far on how individuals should protect themselves:

How to know Omicron symptoms
  • Get vaccinated
  • Go for a booster shot
  • Wear a mask
  • Maintain social distancing
  • Ventilate indoor spaces
  • Keep good hygiene
  • Self-isolate if symptoms occur.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) wants people to watch out for the virus by doing the following:

“The most effective steps individuals can take to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus is to keep a physical distance of at least 1 metre from others; wear a well-fitting mask; open windows to improve ventilation; avoid poorly ventilated or crowded spaces; keep hands clean; cough or sneeze into a bent elbow or tissue; and get vaccinated when it’s their turn.”

Know the symptoms of Omicron variant in Nigeria

European Union approves US Novavax vaccine

European Union approves US Novavax vaccine, Nuvaxovid, to improve booster shots and expand vaccination among community citizens.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) yesterday, 21 December, recommended the US made vaccine to the EU for use across Europe.

The European commission subsequently granted a conditional marketing authorisation for Nuvaxovid vaccine in EU countries.

Reports say the Agency also activated its earlier approval in August to purchase 200million doses from developer Novavax.

European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, based the decision on rapid-spreading Omicron and need to step-up vaccination and boosters.

“I am particularly pleased with today’s authorization of the Novavax vaccine,” she said in a statement.

Company clinical trials in four countries proved that Nuvaxovid is 90% effective in the prevention of Covid-19 attack.

Two of the pivotal trials featured 30,000 participants in US/Mexico, and another 14,000 from the UK.

Result of both trials are published in the New England Journal of Medicine; the second report appeared last week.

The Novavax vaccine, Nuvaxovid, is manufactured in partnership with the Serum Institute of India.

Behind the WHO endorsement

Similarly, the World Health Organisation (WHO) last week issued an emergency-use listing to Nuvaxovid.

This authorization encourages countries without sophisticated review systems to use the vaccine without local testing.

Similarly, Novavax said in a statement that it is developing an Omicron-specific version of the vaccine which is being tested.

The Company hopes to submit an application for approval of the Omicron version to US regulators by month end.

Nuvaxovid advantages

Although coming a year after other vaccines hit the market, Nuvaxovid’s potential advantages have been noted by scientists.

The WHO endorsement helps Novavax push the vaccine to countries without local capacity to independently review vaccines.

EU approves Novavax vaccine
Dr Henrietta Ukwu

Chief Regulatory Officer at Novavax, Dr Henrietta Ukwu, said the vaccine has unique attributes that enhance its potency and acceptability.

One of these is that Nuvaxovid, which is 90 percent effective, can be easily stored. Only one other vaccine has this attribute.

“It can be preserved in a refrigerator storage ” Ukwu explained in a learning platform.

“This makes it possible to get this vaccine to so many parts of the world challenged with cold chain storage.”

Ukwu also said that being a protein-based vaccine should endear it to “vaccine hesitants.”

Over time, protein-based vaccines proved to be safer and with no or mild side effects.

“As Chief Regulatory Officer, I am especially proud of the entire Novavax Team for this exceptional contribution to humanity,” Ukwu said.

Tests and rollout

Apart from India where the vaccines are manufactured, Nuvaxovid has also passed regulatory tests in Indonesia and Philipines.

The company plans to roll out over two billion doses in the coming year.

Novavax lagged behind others in production after it won $1.7billion from the US Government to develop its vaccine.

It is the only product that follows the tradition of protein-based vaccines which guarantees mild side effects.

European Union approves US Novavax vaccine

UK removes Nigeria from Omicron Variant Red List

The UK Government today scraps its Omicron Variant Red List and removes Nigeria and 10 other countries from its web.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid ruefully admitted in Parliament today that the measure has not prevented the spread of Omicron variant.

The “red list” bans travellers from 11 mostly African countries from coming to the UK, for fear of importing Omicron.

The lifting of the ban on red list countries becomes effective by 4.00 a.m. tomorrow, a few hours from now.

Passengers arriving the UK will therefore no longer quarantine in government-approved hotels where each hitherto paid a whopping £2,285.

Consequently, UK will free travellers in quarantine who have not tested positive to Covid-19 or its variants, a cabinet Minister said.

“Anyone who has tested positive will need to continue to stay in managed quarantine,” the official said.

Countries hitherto placed on red list included Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Commercial British airlines breathed a sigh of relief after the announcement which has the potential to stop losses from reciprocal actions planned by other countries.

Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika dropped hints that Nigeria is set to retaliate by banning flights from countries pushing Nigeria to the wall.

Health Minister Osagie Ehanire criticized the unpopular measure as needless and knee-jerk response to a variant not yet fully understood.

Similarly, Nigeria’s High Commissioner in London Sarafa Tunji Isola also characterized it as a form of “travel apartheid.”

UK removes Nigeria from Omicron Red List

London Archbishop backs Nigeria against UK Travel Ban

In London yesterday, Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, backs Nigeria against UK travel ban over fears of the Omicron variant.

Downing Street added Nigeria on a “red list” of countries whose travellers will no longer be allowed entry into the UK

Bishop Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and therefore the most senior bishop in the Church of England, took exception to the listing.

He therefore supported Nigerian position that the restriction is a form of  “apartheid.”

Welby recommended “fair and effective approaches for those who are vaccinated and tested to enter the UK.

“I agree with the Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK – we cannot have ‘travel apartheid’” he tweeted.

Nigerians who manage to get to the UK after the restrictions became effective on Monday 6 December are paying dearly for it.

They are made to pay £2,285 for a 10-day quarantine and must also successfully undergo two negative PCR test.

Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the UK, Sarafa Tunji Isola, described the measures as “travel apartheid” on a BBC radio programme.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres first employed the phrase to describe panicky country actions over Omicron fears.

Isola said in a BBC Radio Programme yesterday that Nigeria equally regards the UK ban as a form of travel apartheid.

“Nigeria is aligned with the position of the UN secretary-general that the travel ban is apartheid.

“We’re not dealing with an endemic situation. We are dealing with a pandemic situation and what is expected is a global approach, not selective.”

He similarly amplified Nigeria’s position that Omicron is classified as a mild variant and has no recorded hospitalizations or deaths.

“So, the issue is quite different from the Delta variant. I mean, the position has to be taken based on scientific and empirical evidence. It is not a kind of panicky situation. We must have the facts.”

UK authorities have however described the phrase, “travel apartheid” as “very unfortunate language.”

Minister of Policing Kit Malthouse told the BBC that the restriction buys time for local scientists to study the variant.

“We understand the difficulties that’s created by these travel restrictions.

“But we’re trying to buy a little bit of time so that our scientists at Porton Down can work on the virus and assess how difficult it’s going to be for us to cope with as a country.”

Omicron variant: London Archbishop backs Nigeria against British Travel Ban

Govt to vaccinate in supermarkets and religious places

The Nigeria Govt may vaccinate citizens in areas with high footfalls such as supermarkets, churches and mosques, an official says.

Health Minister Dr. Nosa Ehanire said last night that government may set up vaccination centres at markets and holy places.

The idea is to meet up with Presidential objective to vaccinate 70 per cent of the population against coronavirus.

Dr. Ehanire said the country currently stocks about 100 million vaccine doses which are being delivered to Nigeria in phases.

Dr. Ehanire also disclosed that government is seeking collaboration with the private sector to locally manufacture vaccines.

He warned those travelling during the December festival window to be mindful of the risks of Covid-19 infection.

Consequently, he advised holiday makers to remember to wear their masks, maintain social distancing and frequently use hand sanitisers.

This is important because Nigeria may have entered the fourth wave of spread with discovery of the Omicron variant.

“We had the so-called third wave already with the Delta variant.

“This is what we are looking at as the 4th wave.

“It was predicted … a month ago that there might be a 4th wave in Nigeria and perhaps the world and it is already accurately manifesting.

“We hope it doesn’t get to be that and if it becomes the 4th wave, it will not be deadly to our citizens.

Last night, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed 55 new infections nationwide.

Nigeria has therefore recorded 214,622 cases of Covid-19 infections, out of which 97 percent survived.

On the other hand, the death toll slowly inches up to 3,000 cases since the pandemic began, NCDC figures show.

Govt to vaccinate in supermarkets and religious places

Omicron: Nigeria won’t shut borders, Minister says

Nigeria said last night that she won’t shut her borders to retaliate flight bans by four countries over Omicron fears.

After Canada banned travellers from Nigeria over Omicron fears, the UK, Indonesia and Hong Kong quickly followed suit.

Health Minister Osagie Ehanire said Nigeria will not engage in “knee-jerk” reactions like those other countries.

Instead, Nigeria will watch what scientists say about Omicron and without rushing to judgement, he said.

Consequently, there wont be “lockdowns, prohibitions and banning of flights or movement of people, until we know more.”

Doing these, Ehanire said, could prove more harmful to livelihoods and the economy than any perceived value of borders closures.

The Minister wondered at the panicky measures as both scientists and WHO have not classified Omicron as a deadly variant.

In addition, no death has been recorded worldwide as resulting from this latest Covid strain, he said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) currently classifies the Omicron strain as “a variant of concern.”

Ehanire recommended instead that countries come together to hammer out a common approach to manage the new discovery.

Fake Covid-19 certificates

Between them, the UK and Canada reported 23 cases of Nigerian passengers that tested positive to the Omicron variant.

Nigeria however published only three cases of the strain found nationwide to date.

While explaining this discrepancy, Ehanire said it is possible that some passengers may have been given fake test results.

The phenomenon of fake test results is however not peculiar to Nigeria, he explained, citing UK passengers as an example.

“Because of the very large volume of travellers from the UK, we also have the most positive COVID-19 virus coming from the UK too.”

On her own, the government of Nigeria does its best to tighten the “mechanism for spotting fake results and vaccination cards.”

Incoming passengers found with fake test results are quarantined, after which they are handed over to the police, Ehanire said.

A British overkill

In Abuja, High Commision officials yesterday justified Nigeria’s ban, citing cases of 21 Nigerian passengers who tested positive for Omicron.

The diplomatic aggression affects almost all forms of travel from Nigeria to Britain.

It includes flight bans from Nigeria and suspension of visa processing for all categories of travel “until travel bans are lifted.”

In a statement, the High Commission said UK is anxious “to protect public health from COVID-19 and associated variants of concern.”

The statement explained the nature of the wide-ranging ban thusly:

  • “If you apply for a visit visa in a red list country and you meet the UK Immigration Rules, your application will be paused.
  • “You will not receive a decision on your visit visa application whilst red list travel restrictions remain in place.
  • Also, applicants will not be refunded their visa fee if they have completed and submitted their biometrics.
  • Those who hold a valid visit visa and are planning to travel to England from Nigeria “will not be allowed to enter.”

The UK however allowed “very limited exemptions” for “critical workers and medical and compassionate cases.”

Omicron: Nigeria won’t shut borders, Minister says

Canada bans Nigerian flights over Omicron fears

Hours after Nigeria confirmed local presence of the Omicron strain of Coronavirus, Canada bans Nigerian flights over fears of importation.

Coincidentally, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced last night that the new strain is now in Nigeria.

NCDC traced the three discovered cases to people who recently returned from a trip to South Africa.

Understandably, there were apprehensions today when South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, arrived Abuja hours after the discovery.

Ramaphosa, on a three-day scheduled visit, drove from the airport to a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at Aso Villa.

Meanwhile, NCDC confirmed 105 new cases of Covid-19 in Nigeria last night, including one death.

Nigeria has recorded 214,218 cases to date, out of which 207,304 (97%) survived.

A total of 2,977 deaths occured in Nigeria since the pandemic made a landfall on 28 February 2020.

The 105 new cases came from Lagos (43), Gombe (21), FCT (16), Niger (10), Rivers(6), Plateau(5), Edo(2), Bauchi(1), and Kano(1).

Canada bans flights

In a second wave of sweeping bans yesterday, Nigeria, Egypt and Malawi joined seven other African countries banned by Ottawa.

The ban affects foreigners who transited or stayed in the 10 African countries in the last two weeks, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said at a press conference.

The new rule requires air travelers, save those arriving from the United States, to test for Covid-19 at their point of entry.

It does not matter “whether they are vaccinated or unvaccinated,” Duclos said.

He added that all travelers need to isolate until their test results are available.

The Canadian Government is taking preemptive measures over fears of Omicron strain of Coronavirus.

The world believes that the variant originates from South Africa, hence the targeted flight bans on countries from the continent.

Govt of Canada bans Nigerian flights over Omicron fears

Nigeria shuts UK embassy over Covid-19 discovery


Nigeria shuts UK embassy – the High Commission – upon discovery that two embassy staff have contracted the Covid-19 virus disease.

The High Commission remains closed for 10 days to sanitize and make it safe, officials said in a statement.

The mandatory 10-day closure began yesterday, 12 August 2021, the High Commission said.

One of two officials who went for a meeting at the British Home Office was found with the virus after a routine check.

“At the entrance, Covid test was administered on them and one of them tested positive to Covid-19.

“The affected officer immediately isolated while the other officials, who tested negative will also isolate for the next 10 days.

Nigeria shuts UK embassy over Covid-19 discovery

The High Commission immediately tested all other staff from where another carrier was identified.

The mission therefore decided to shut down as a precautionary measure.

This mandatory closure also enables the Embassy observe mandatory isolation of those who had contact with infected officials.

The Commission regrets the inconvenience and asked for cooperation from customers, the statement added.

A similar scenario played out in New York when Nigeria hurriedly shut down her Consulate for 10 days in February.

The Consulate closed from Thursday 18 February “due to the number of staff who are quarantined as a result of exposure to COVID-19 at work.”

Nigeria records 753 new cases yesterday

Back in Nigeria, authorities confirmed yesterday that 753 more persons have contracted Covid-19 from 14 states.

This brings officially reported cases of the disease to 180,661. A total of 166,580 have so far survived while 2,200 unfortunately died from the disease.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) also reported that five persons died from the disease yesterday 12 August.

The 753 new cases reported yesterday came from Lagos (364), Akwa Ibom (141), Oyo (74), Rivers (46), and Abia (38).

Others are Ogun (24), Kwara (20), FCT (12), Ekiti (10), Delta (9), Edo (6), Plateau (5), Imo (19), and Bayelsa(1)

Cover Photo: Sarafa Tunji Ishola, Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the UK

Covid-19 infects 109 corps-members coming into camps

Nigeria battles with third wave bearing dreaded Delta variant as Covid-19 infects 109 corps-members coming into various camps nationwide.

The figures were collated from various NYSC camps where prospective corps members tested positive during a snap test.

The federal Agency opened its 37 camps nationwide for the 2021 Batch B Stream 1 candidates at the weekend.

A report by Daily Trust newspaper puts the number of youths suspected to be carrying the disease at 109.

According to the newspaper, some of the cases were discovered in Edo(17), Plateau(26), Gombe(25), Sokoto(14), Ogun(6) and Taraba(21).

NYSC spokesperson, Mrs Adenike Adeyemi, however said the Agency is proactive in making sure infected persons don’t get into camps.

She told Daily Trust that there will be no positive cases found in any of thr camps nationwide.

“This is because before anyone goes into the camps, there is a test that is conducted and only the people that are confirmed negative are allowed into the camp.

“Everybody that goes into the camp is admitted after the test at the gates.

“At every camp, there are medical doctors, officials from the NCDC and others too. All these people work together and they conduct Rapid Diagnostics Tests.

“Only those who are negative go into the camps. If anyone requires further tests or further confirmation, they are handed over there to the NCDC surveillance team that takes over from that point.

Nigeria grapples with third wave

Nigeria is currently grappling with a renewed wave of infections, some of which come from the dreaded Delta mutatant.

Last night, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced 505 new Covid-19 infections and three deaths nationwide.

This brings the national infections to 175,264 confirmed cases, with a 94 percent survival rate.

To date, 2,163 afflicted persons have died from the disease in Nigeria.

NCDC has since February 2021 drawn attention to the various mutations of Covid-19 found in Nigeria.

The Agency however asked the public not to panic but continue to observe all published preventive measures to avoid infection.

“One way to prevent viruses from mutating is to prevent their transmission, the Agency said in a statement.

“This means that we must
continue to #TakeResponsibility as members of the public.

“The public health measures to control this
virus is the same, irrespective the variant.

“Please continue to avoid close contact with others, wash your
hands regularly using soap and running water, wear a mask properly, keep a distance of at least two
metres from others.”

Enugu leads Covid-19 infections in South East

In the South East, two of the 505 cases reported yesterday are from Imo State while one is from Ebonyi.

However, at the 15th position on the national infections table, Enugu State leads the South East confirmed Covid-19 cases.

NCDC figures show that the Coal City State has 2,490 confirmed cases, followed by Ebonyi(2,047), Anambra(1,918), Abia(1,733) and Imo(1,688)

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