COVID-19 Deaths At Lowest In 1 Year- WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that the death toll from Coronavirus (COVID-19) is now at its lowest level in almost a year.

WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, said at a news conference on Wednesday in Geneva that vaccine inequality had persisted in spite of decline in COVID-19 deaths.

Ghebreyesus reported that the death toll from COVID-19 was still an unacceptably high, noting that almost 50,000 deaths a week and the real number was certainly higher.

He said, “Deaths are declining in every region except Europe, where several countries are facing fresh waves of cases and deaths.  And of course, deaths are highest in the countries and populations with the least access to vaccines.”

Ghebreyesus again called for greater support for developing countries to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccine.

He appealed for global cooperation saying “countries that continue to roll out boosters now are effectively preventing other countries from vaccinating their most at-risk populations.”

As of Wednesday, there were more than 238 million COVID-19 cases worldwide and more than 4.8 million deaths.

WHO had previously pushed governments to vaccinate 10 per cent of their populations by the end of September, a target which 56 nations missed, most of them in Africa.

The director-general said even more countries were at risk of missing the 40 per cent target to be achieved by the end of the year.

“Three countries – Burundi, Eritrea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – have yet to start vaccinations.

“About half of the remaining countries are constrained by supply. They have a vaccination programme underway, but don’t have enough supply to accelerate enough to reach the target,” he said.

Ghebreyesus urged countries and companies that control global vaccine supply to prioritise distribution to the COVAX solidarity initiative and the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT).

Meanwhile, he said that WHO and partners were working with other countries such as those affected by fragility or conflict to strengthen technical and logistical capacity for vaccine rollout.

“With aggressive and ambitious action, most of these countries can still reach the 40 per cent target by the end of this year, or be on a clear pathway to reaching it,” he said.

He also addressed the escalating crisis in northern Ethiopia, where a nearly year-long war in the Tigray region has left up to seven million people in urgent need for food and other assistance.

He said the conflict had spilled over into neighbouring Afar and Amhara, further increasing needs and complicating response efforts.

Aid is not reaching the area “at anywhere close to the levels needed”, he said, and communications, electricity, other basis services remain cut off.

WHO and partners are calling for unfettered access to the affected regions, as the lives of millions of people are at stake, Ghebreyesus told journalists.

He said, “People with chronic illnesses are dying due to lack of both food and medicine. Nearly 200,000 children have gone without critical vaccinations.

“When people do not have enough food, they are more susceptible to deadly diseases, as well as the threat of starvation, and that’s what we’re now seeing in Tigray.” (NAN)

UNICEF Distributes 257,500 Covid-19 Awareness Creation Materials to Jigawa, Kano, Katsina

By Our Correspondent, Kano

As part of efforts at ensuring Covid-19 pandemic is eliminated in Nigeria, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has procured and distributed 257,500 Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) materials to Jigawa, Kano and Katsina States.

The materials according to Mr Maulid Warfa, UNICEF Chief in Kano Field Office, are met for awareness creation on the COVID-19.

He said that 225, 000 SBCC materials were distributed in Kano state, 32, 000 in Katsina state and 2,500 in Jigawa as part of the fund’s efforts in fight the pandemic in the country.

Warfa said that the materials would help in explaining to the public more about the pandemic, including the necessary measures to be taken to prevent its spread.

He said, “We trained facilitators in states and local government areas on how to create awareness on COVID-19 response. We also distributed mega phones (four per ward), in Kano.

“UNICEF is a member of the Kano State Task Force on COVID-19 and the Risk Communication Sub-committee, supporting and advising the state in the prevention and response to the dreaded disease.

“We are sponsoring a radio and television educational learning for children at home to last for initial three months,” he said.

Warfa said the sponsorship was being done in collaboration with the Kano State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), the state Ministry of Education, Radio Kano and ARTV.

He said the nutrition section of the field office had engaged in discussion with the states to consider an alternative delivery of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) treatment in anticipation of lockdown either within and/or statewide.

“Part of the strategy includes leveraging on community workers as a platform diagnosis and management of complicated SAM cases,” he added.

He said that UNICEF had facilitated a review of the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 in Kano state, with key emphasis on the present and potential economic and human development effect of the pandemic.

The chief said that the paper highlighted and suggested critical recommendations that the state could consider, based on best practices.