Nigerian military activates 17 isolation centres as senior officer tests positive for Coronavirus

Nigerian Army

The Nigerian Armed Forces says it has activated 17 isolation centres in the six geopolitical zones across the country to boost fight against Coronavirus pandemic. This is just as a senior officer of the Nigerian Armed forces have tested positive to the Coronavirus.

John Enenche, Coordinator, Defence Media Operations (DMO) who made this known while briefing newsmen in Abuja on Monday explained that the officer recently returned from a high burden country and is currently at the isolation centre at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital.

He also said the Armed forces have been directed to enforce all restriction on movement as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari at his maiden broadcast on the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic and solicited the support of the general public by adhering to all the medical and administrative guidelines being provided by government at all levels.

He added that a good number of Armed Forces of Nigerian medical personnel have been earmarked to be trained on the management of COVID 19 cases, which will done in liaison with Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

“In the same vein, about 48 Disaster Response Units of the Armed Forces of Nigeria are on Notice To Move in conjunction with NEMA. These units will handle operations other than medicals that may arise in the course of this non kinetic military operation”, Enenche said.

By Godsgift Onyedinefu

Stanbic IBTC joins organised private sector in the fight against Coronavirus

Stanbic IBTC joins organised private sector in the fight against Coronavirus

Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, a member of Standard Bank Group, has joined other corporate organisations to offer support to the Federal Government of Nigeria in the fight against the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Nigeria.


The foremost end-to-end financial services institution has donated the sum of N250 million to the Nigerian Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19, formed recently to combat the virus.


The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in partnership with the Nigerian private sector, had formed this alliance to combat the COVID-19. Other individuals and corporate organizations have shown their support towards assisting the government and the country at large to fight the pandemic.


Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC, a subsidiary of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, made the donation to support the government’s effort and boost the Nigerian health sector’s capacity to combat the pandemic.


Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC is also a member of the Operations Committee of the Nigerian Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19. The Operations Committee is responsible for project management, logistics, communication, and advocacy.


Yinka Sanni, Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, said: “The rate at which the COVID-19 virus is spreading calls for quick action and collective response to avert unprecedented health, social and economic crises. This is not the battle which the government can fight alone. Both public and private sector stakeholders need to muster every available resource to combat the COVID-19 spread.


“Stanbic IBTC remains committed to this cause and will continue to support the government and our compatriots in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”


The Stanbic IBTC Holdings Chief Executive further added that this donation is only one of several interventions being made by the leading end-to-end financial solutions provider as Nigeria battles the COVID-19 pandemic.



COVID-19: UNILORIN to produce N30m hand sanitisers for Kwara govt

Tribune Online
COVID-19: UNILORIN to produce N30m hand sanitisers for Kwara govt

Coronavirus UNILORIN, education

In its bid to contain the spread of coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) in Kwara State, the state government has contracted the Technical Entrepreneurship Centre (TEC) of UNILORIN to produce various sizes of hand sanitisers for onward distribution to residents of the state. Director of the centre, Dr Jamiu Kolawole Odusote, who said this in the university […]

COVID-19: UNILORIN to produce N30m hand sanitisers for Kwara govt
Tribune Online

Abule-Ado explosion: Relocate Apapa Tank Farms, port operators urge FG

Tribune Online
Abule-Ado explosion: Relocate Apapa Tank Farms, port operators urge FG

abule-ado, explosion

The Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup, has asked the Federal Government to create a plan for the relocation of petroleum depots, otherwise called tank farms, from Apapa. Speaking on Monday against the backdrop of the March 15 explosion at Abule Ado, Lagos State, which claimed 23 lives and displaced […]

Abule-Ado explosion: Relocate Apapa Tank Farms, port operators urge FG
Tribune Online

We Expect Confirmed Cases Of Coronavirus To ‘Keep Rising’ – NCDC


The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says it expects the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the country to keep rising.

NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, who stated this on Monday during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, was hopeful that Nigeria would be able to manage the situation and reverse the trend.

He said, “We have crossed the hundred mark and the reality is that there is a virus circulating in our midst and that is why Mr President came up yesterday to speak to Nigerians.

“In the short term, we do expect the numbers to keep rising but we also expect that we will be able to get on top of this and that is why some measures were needed and we met with Mr President.”


President Muhammadu Buhari addressed Nigerians over the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on Sunday, hours before the NCDC said the number of confirmed cases had risen to 111.

The President, in a broadcast, highlighted some of the measures put in place by the Federal Government to curtail the spread of the disease and mitigate its effect on the Nigerian economy.

He also ordered the restriction of movement in Lagos and Ogun States, as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.


Weeks Of Pain

NCDC Director General, Chikwe Ihekweazu.



For Ihekweazu, the President’s decision to restrict movement, especially Lagos and Abuja, was a tough one but necessary.

He also urged Nigerians to cooperate with the NCDC and others working hard to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

“He (Buhari) took a very hard decision to make the statement he made to institute the measures he did, you will see that this is really a call on Nigerians to come together and to support these measures,” the NCDC boss stated.

He added, “We know that these measures work, the challenge for us as a society are the side effects of these measures and which is why they were very difficult to make … it has not been an easy measure to carry out in Nigeria’s biggest (commercial) city and Abuja.

“From today, we will appeal to Nigerians to bear the few weeks of pain that will come. Stay at home as much as possible, unless you really really need to go out and let’s see whether we can get on top of this.

“At the moment, there is no vaccine, there are no treatments that work; so, our only hope in containing this outbreak is to prevent transmission from one individual to the other. The way we can do this is to stop contact with each other which is very difficult, and which is why those extra measures were needed.”

Taliban Attacks Kill Dozens Of Afghan Forces

FILE -photo

The Taliban have killed about two dozen Afghan police and pro-government fighters, officials said Monday, in two attacks that come as the foes are supposed to be preparing for peace talks.

In one of the incidents late Sunday, the insurgents killed at least six soldiers and 13 police and pro-government militiamen at several outposts near a police headquarters building in northeastern Takhar province, provincial police spokesman Khalil Assir told AFP.

A wedding party was being held in the building at the time, but the attackers did not reach the headquarters.

“The police bravely defended and prevented the Taliban from entering the celebration,” Assir said.

Mohammad Azam Afzali, a member of Takhar’s provincial council, gave a slightly lower toll, saying 17 police and pro-government militiamen were killed in the fighting that lasted at least seven hours.

The Taliban did not immediately comment.

Meanwhile, a Taliban attack on an army outpost in southern Zabul province on Sunday night left at least six soldiers dead, the defence ministry said in a statement.

Four people were also wounded when a sticky bomb attached to a small truck went off in Kabul city on Monday morning, the interior ministry said.

No one immediately claimed that attack.

The latest bloodshed comes during diplomatic efforts to kickstart talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

The insurgents had agreed to speak to the government under a deal with the United States signed in Doha last month, but the dialogue has been derailed by a dispute over a prisoner exchange and the Taliban are also grumbling about the composition of Kabul’s negotiating team.

The talks were supposed to start in Oslo on March 10. Now it is unclear when they might begin.


Adesina hails broadcaster Victor Oladokun as he quits as AfDB’s Director of Communications

Tribune Online
Adesina hails broadcaster Victor Oladokun as he quits as AfDB’s Director of Communications

President of African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has commended the outgoing Director of Communication and External Relations Department of the bank, Dr. Victor Oladokun, for his exceptional leadership. Oladokun, who joined the bank in 2017, is a veteran communications expert and is leaving the bank on reaching the mandatory retirement age. In a […]

Adesina hails broadcaster Victor Oladokun as he quits as AfDB’s Director of Communications
Tribune Online

Big companies raise record sums from bond market in dash for cash

Big companies raise record sums from bond market in dash for cash

The world’s highest-rated companies, including Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Disney and the drugmaker Pfizer, have bolstered their ability to weather the economic downturn, swallowing higher borrowing costs to raise hundreds of billions of dollars of debt while lower-rated issuers struggle.
Global corporate bond issuance by “investment grade” companies has surged to $244bn so far in March, the highest monthly total since a record $252bn was sold in September, according to Dealogic. The US has led the charge with a record $150bn of new bonds sold, and $28bn has been raised in Europe. Adding in a raft of new bank bond sales from the likes of Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs takes the global tally to $408bn this month, separate data from Refinitiv showed.

Issuance was particularly prolific last week, after central banks and governments around the world announced further supportive measures for financial markets, including the Fed taking the unprecedented step of announcing that it would begin to buy corporate bonds.
The coronavirus outbreak has prompted a general dash for cash from companies around the globe, with groups drawing down emergency credit lines alongside the spate of debt issuance. Corporate treasurers are trying to shore up balance sheets so they can outlast any drag on revenues from the economic slowdown.

“People want to build a cushion for economic uncertainty,” said Andrew Karp, who runs Bank of America’s global investment grade capital markets business, who noted that previous weeks had seen a virtual drying-up of issuance, as alarm over the virus spread. “When you get the opportunity to access the market, people will jump through that window.”
The past week’s US corporate issuance also made records, topping $73bn, according to the Dealogic data. The sum is extraordinary because unlike previous weeks of hefty issuance, it has not included financing for a big acquisition, said bankers.

Borrowing costs for US investment-grade companies have risen as the coronavirus crisis has threatened the creditworthiness of many issuers and caused dislocations in parts of financial markets.
The average yield on an index of investment-grade bonds run by Ice Data Services sits at 3.9 per cent, up from an all-time low of 2.26 per cent earlier this month.
Some companies have come to market multiple times in recent weeks, despite the rising costs. Berkshire Hathaway issued a $500m 10-year bond on March 4, paying just shy of 0.9 per cent above US Treasury yields. Last week its energy subsidiary sold $1.1bn of 10-year debt at an interest rate 2.85 per cent above Treasuries.

“In uncertain times like this it is important to demonstrate you have market access and can secure liquidity,” said Tomas Lundquist, head of European corporate debt capital markets at Citigroup.
Lower-rated companies in the high-yield, or “junk” bond market have not had the same access. There have been no new high-yield bond sales in the US since March 4, while the drought in Europe has lasted more than a month.
Analysts warn that despite higher-rated companies bolstering their cash piles, rising corporate defaults could still ricochet through the economy. Around $9tn of outstanding corporate debt has built up over the past decade while borrowing costs have been low.
Companies have already begun cutting staff in an attempt to save costs, with the number of Americans filing unemployment claims in the US hitting an unprecedented 3.3m over the past week, from just 200,000 two weeks ago.

On Friday, rating agency Moody’s said that if lockdowns around the world are short and swift, the global default rate would reach 6.5 per cent this year. But in a more severe recession, extending into the second half of the year, defaults could surpass levels seen in the 2008 financial crisis and soar to 18.3 per cent.
“If you are [a company] reliant on cash flow from revenues and those stop then that is a severe shock,” said Atsi Sheth, chief credit officer for the Americas at Moody’s. “At the same time credit conditions would become tighter and tighter for those companies.”

The ventilator challenge will test ingenuity to the limit

The ventilator challenge will test ingenuity to the limit

From inventors to academics, carmakers and aerospace companies, a race is under way to build hundreds of thousands of ventilators: the machines that help severely ill coronavirus patients breathe that are in desperately short supply worldwide.
The numbers required dwarf the normal industry output — New York State alone has said it will need 30,000 extra machines — so big names of industry such as General Motors, Airbus, McLaren and Dyson have offered their engineering expertise or factory lines, which in many cases have slowed or halted because of the pandemic.

Yet for all their technical expertise, the question is whether manufacturers inexperienced in the field can overcome the technical, logistical and regulatory hurdles in time to deliver an enormous number of life-saving machines.
“The actual scaling up to manufacture at a great level isn’t the tricky part — it’s having the supplies and components,” said an employee at a ventilator maker.

In some of the areas worst hit by the pandemic, crisis has sparked ingenuity. An Italian 3D printing start-up, Isinnova, has converted a snorkelling mask from the Decathlon sportswear chain into an emergency mask for hospital ventilators, based on an idea from a doctor.
To cope with the peak of infections expected in weeks, there will need to be an enormous push by industry. UK authorities are looking at ways to boost production of two existing models made domestically as well as new ones drawn up in response to the emergency. However, many of the ventilators used in Britain are imported.
UK engineering company Dyson this week said it had received a government order, subject to regulatory clearances, for 10,000 ventilators it designed from scratch in 10 days with The Technology Partnership (TTP), a consultancy with experience in medical devices. The company’s billionaire owner Sir James Dyson has said he will pay for another 5,000.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen, whose European plants have come to a standstill, said it had a task force working to see if it could use its 125 industrial 3D printers, which can rapidly make components and complex shapes, to make parts. Skoda, a VW brand, has printed test parts in co-operation with local universities.
However, many manufacturing experts and medical device makers are sceptical about whether companies new to this specialised and heavily regulated sector can easily repurpose shop floors, and cast doubt on how quickly new ventilators can be made.
“Just ordering the tools, for example for the plastic moulding, for assembly, the test equipment, will take three to six months,” said Bernhard Langefeld, a manufacturing expert at consultancy Roland Berger. “If you don’t take [the decision] now, you will not have 100,000 devices in June.”
The most sophisticated ventilators used in intensive care units can cost more than £20,000 and are responsive to a patient’s breathing, ensuring “synchronisation” so that excessive pressure and gas is not delivered.

These highly specialised machines apart, a range of other options could be deployed depending on the stage of the disease, according to medical devices engineer Paul Dixon. These include transport ventilators, which are found in ambulances and often sell for less than £5,000.
“A device that produces some positive pressure [to keep airways open] and some additional oxygen can be very simple,” said Mr Dixon. “You could fill that gap quite rapidly with relatively high-volume manufacturing with very little need for complex controls.”
This could take the form of a simple ventilator with a mask, similar to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines given to patients with sleep apnoea, a condition where breathing stops and starts when a person is not awake.

Mr Dixon estimates more basic CPAP devices will be needed at a rate of two or three for every advanced ICU ventilator. This opens the door to industries with advanced pneumatics expertise, such as aerospace and automotive.
But some worry about the risks of these well-intentioned efforts to fill the gap in supply.
Mick Farrell, chief executive of ResMed, a large ventilator maker that is increasing production up to three-fold, said he would rather other manufacturers helped boost their production, rather than becoming competition for scarce resources.

“When we get help offers from others like large electric car manufacturers we say: ‘Fantastic, we don’t actually need another final manufacturing production line, we need, for example, a lithium ion battery, or from an aerospace manufacturer, we need a certain part’,” he said.
One of the top three ventilator manufacturers, Hamilton Medical in Switzerland, is doubling production to about 500 a week. Among the components it sources from overseas are non-complex metal fittings, computer screens and electronic circuit boards.

“Raw materials will be a limiting factor. You don’t know if suddenly a supplier can keep up,” said Jens Hallek, chief executive.
Instead of starting from scratch, some manufacturers have turned to existing designs. GM will build approved Ventec ventilators at its manufacturing site in Indiana, donating resources at cost. The first will be delivered next month and together the companies will have capacity to increase production to 10,000 a month.

While all of the carmaker’s North American factories are temporarily closed, 1,000 staff will return to assemble the devices.
Ford, meanwhile, is working with GE Healthcare on a simplified ventilator that could be made at one of its plants, if the federal government gives the go-ahead.

As the number of ventilators in use expands, an equally important consideration will be the supply of “consumables” — attachments such as masks, rubber tubing and sensors that must be regularly replaced.
Then there are the safety regulations. Approval for medical devices normally takes months or years, although the US and Britain have said they will relax the rules. Standards to be met include component traceability, final testing and even the manufacturing premises.
Equipment that comes into direct contact with patients must be made in clean rooms, which are common in the aerospace sector. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is working with companies that have facilities already used for other regulated industries to ensure they meet quality and safety standards.

Another option is for specialist manufacturers to in effect lend their accreditation, said Tom Ackrill at ITL, which does outsourced design and production for medical device brands.
“We could supervise the parts they’ve bought, how it’s assembled and all the technical work — essentially [they] borrow our processes and apply it to their facilities,” he added.
As the emergency unfolds, stopgaps like this may well become a necessity.

Bauchi governor’s aide tests negative to COVID-19

Tribune Online
Bauchi governor’s aide tests negative to COVID-19

COVID-19, Bauchi

The Plateau Government has said that the result of the preliminary test carried out on Hassan Sale, an aide to Bauchi State Governor, who resides in Jos, tested negative. Gov. Simon Lalong stated this in Jos on Sunday in a statement by Mr Dan Manjang, the State Commissioner for Information and Communication. “When information on […]

Bauchi governor’s aide tests negative to COVID-19
Tribune Online