The COVID-19 virus has infected over 100 million people and caused over two million deaths globally. Nigeria has recorded over 150,000 infections and 1,831 deaths as of February 21.

Scientists have successfully developed vaccines proven to be effective against the virus. Some countries have also began the vaccination of their citizens against the deadly virus.

Amidst the pandemic, there is also a setback in the fight against Ebola as more countries are reporting new cases.

Nigeria, however, said it has put several measures in place to prevent and mitigate the impact of a potential Ebola outbreak in the country.

Here is a round-up of some of the health stories which made headlines last week.

18 more people die from COVID-19 in Nigeria

A total of 1,831 deaths have now been recorded from COVID-19 in Nigeria after 18 more people died on Saturday, health authorities said.

The 18 deaths on Saturday indicated a significant increase from the eight fatalities recorded on Friday.

Nigeria also reported 645 new infections on Saturday, increasing the total number of known cases in the country to 151,553.

COVID-19: Nigeria to vaccinate 109 million citizens in two years – Official

The Nigerian government has disclosed plans to vaccinate approximately 109 million people against COVID-19 over a period of two years.

The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, while speaking at Monday’s weekly briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, said only those eligible will be vaccinated.

He said the federal government plans to vaccinate all eligible population from 18 years and above, including pregnant women.

COVID-19: How five hardest-hit African countries are coping

On February 14, 2020, Egypt became the first African country to record a COVID-19 case. The virus has since spread to the other 53 countries in the continent.

In many African countries, borders were closed, confirmed cases quarantined, and curfews imposed early, which helped countries to slow down the spread of the virus.

One year after the pandemic broke in the region, Africa is the least affected region so far, accounting for less than 5 per cent of global COVID-19 cases and 4 per cent of global deaths, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

NCDC Issues Public Health Advisory on Ebola Disease

Following the declaration of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in Guinea and Democratic Republic of Congo, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said that it has initiated a number of response activities, including a public health advisory.

The NCDC said in a statement that it has an existing multi-sectoral National Emerging Viral Haemorrhagic Diseases Working Group (EVHDWG).

This group coordinates preparedness efforts for EVD and other emerging viral haemorrhagic diseases.

Nigeria needs N3 trillion annually for health insurance of citizens – Official

Nigeria needs to set about N3 trillion aside annually to provide adequate health insurance to its total population of about 200 million, an official has said.

According to the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Mohammed Sambo, with sufficient funds in the health insurance pool, the scheme will expand its benefits package to include medical conditions such as cancer, which are currently excluded.

Mr Sambo said this during a courtesy call on the Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, a statement by the scheme’s spokesperson, Emmanuel Ononokpono, highlighted.

USAID empowers Nigeria’s TB control programme to diagnose, treat suspected patients

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided critical commodities to Nigeria’s National Tuberculosis (TB) and Leprosy Control Programme for the testing and diagnosis of more than 10,000 patients suspected of having the disease.

United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria, Public Affairs Section, in a statement, said the donation of 86,500 “GeneXpert Ultra” cartridges will help Nigerian health workers to optimize the use of molecular diagnosis tools that can detect both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant forms of TB, and improve detection of TB in people living with Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

COVID-19: Nigeria records 29 cases of variant found in UK – NCDC

Nigeria has now confirmed 29 cases of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant within its borders, an official said Monday.

The B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant was first detected in the United Kingdom and has since spread to other parts of the world.

The Director-General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Chikwe Iheakwazu, while speaking at the Monday briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, said the new variant has spread across six states in Nigeria.

NCDC: 25% of Nigerians exposed to COVID without their knowledge

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says about 25 per cent of Nigerians have been exposed to COVID-19 without them knowing it.

Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General of the NCDC, disclosed this on Thursday while presenting updates on the pandemic at the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting held in Abuja.

Nigeria to receive additional 1.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines – Minister

Nigeria has been allocated an additional 1.4 million doses of the approved Oxford- AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines, health minister Osagie Ehanire said on Monday.

Nigeria is expected to receive an initial 16 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines through the Vaccines Global Assess Facility, COVAX, by the end of February.

Mental Illness: Expert wants ban on chaining of patients

A Neurological Surgeon and CEO of Brain and Spine Surgery Limited, Biodun Ogungbo, has called on the federal government to ban chaining of mentally ill patients.

He also urged the government to urgently investigate chaining in state-owned rehabilitation centres, psychiatric hospitals, and faith-based as well as traditional healing centres in all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

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