COVID-19 delays O’sha Port concessioning

… Nigerian cases rise to 51
… Global toll now 460,000
… Africa records 64 deaths,2,412 cases
… World Bank earmarks $150b

RISING spread of COVID-19 pandemic in parts of Nigeria is stalling due diligence work scheduled for private operators on Onitsha River port concessioning project.

Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Moghalu, dropped the hint while speaking at a stakeholders forum in Lagos.

According to Moghalu, both Onitsha River Port and Baro River Port are 100 per cent completed and awaiting concessioning to private operators. But with the near lock down in all non-essential services in many states, the process is being delayed.

“As we are now, the concessioning process is on. I would have traveled on Sunday night to Belgium with my team to the port of Antwerp for due diligence. They have come here about a month and half ago, their team came and went to Onitsha port and do all their assessment and everything. Invitation was extended to receive us but this Coronavirus issue will put a hold on the movement. Once that is resolved, we continue with the process. But I can assure you the concession process is still on,” he said.

But Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) yesterday stated that two new cases of COVID-19 were recorded to bring current total toll at 51. Both cases are travelers returning to Nigeria within last week. While there are 43 active cases, two have been discharged with one death and eight new cases recorded in the last 24 hours.

However, Nigeria received 100,000 masks and 20,000 test kits among others as its share from multimillion donations to Africa by Chinese business tycoon, Jack Ma.

Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Health, Abdulaziz Abdullahi, took delivery of the items with promise that 20,000 test kits will be distributed to five laboratories spearheading surveillance and containment at the five geo-political zones.

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Meanwhile, Africa has recorded about 2,412 cases and 64 deaths as Coronavirus pandemic spreads in the continent while 203 recovered in 14 African countries.

This toll was taken on 43 African countries outbreak of the novel coronavirus cases was reported.

The figures were obtained from release posted on World Health Organisation (WHO) website yesterday.

The post gave further breakdown of cases toll as follows: Algeria (264), Angola (2), Benin (5), Burkina Faso (114), Cameroon (70), Cape Verde (3), Central African Republic (5), Chad (3), Congo (4), Côte d’Ivoire (73), Djibouti (3), DRC (48), Egypt (402), Equatorial Guinea (9), Eritrea (1), Eswatini (5), Ethiopia (12), and Gabon (6).

Others with positive cases are Gambia (3), Ghana (53), Guinea (4), Kenya (25), Liberia (3), Madagascar (17), Mauritius (42), Mauritania (2), Morocco (170), Mozambique (3), Namibia (6), Niger (2), Nigeria (46), Rwanda (40), Senegal (86), Seychelles (7), Somalia (1), South Africa (709), Sudan (3), Tanzania (12), Togo (20), Tunisia (114), Uganda (9), Zambia (3), Zimbabwe (2).

Death tolls in the affected countries are as follows: Algeria (19), Burkina Faso (4), Cameroon (1), DRC (3), Egypt (20), Gabon (1), Gambia (1), Ghana (2), Mauritius (2), Morocco (4), Nigeria (1), Sudan (1), Tunisia (3), and Zimbabwe (1) while countries recorded recoveries as follows: Algeria (77), Burkina Faso (5), Cameroon (2), Côte d’Ivoire (3), DRC (1), Egypt (80), Ethiopia (4), Ghana (1), Morocco (6), Nigeria (2), Senegal (8), South Africa (12), Togo (1), Tunisia (1).

Yet the pandemic continues its deadly hit around the globe with United States set to become global epicentre of the pandemic that has over 700 of its citizens and infected over 53,000.

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A report quoting World Health Organisation (WHO) said US negotiators reached an agreement on a $2 trillion aid package and India announced a nationwide lockdown in the world’s second-most populous country.

Meanwhile, nearly 460,000 people have been infected across the world amid about 20,800 deaths as news of Prince Charles testing positive for coronavirus yesterday sending jitters around the globe.

In Italy fatalities surged to dashing hopes the epidemic was easing after more encouraging numbers in the previous two days. France’s death toll is much higher than the official tally, which only accounts for those dying in hospitals and does not include those dying at home or in retirement homes, the head of the hospitals federation said.

More than 170,000 people signed up to help Britain’s National Health Service, and the parliament is set to suspend sitting for at least four weeks with nurses and doctors demanding action after Spain reported its sharpest daily increase in new cases and said about 14 percent of the nearly 40,000 infections were among health workers.

Russia’s total number of cases reached 658 yesterday in a record daily rise just after Moscow’s mayor warned the outbreak in the capital was worse than official figures showed. This happened same day Australia said it would force passengers on ship into quarantine on a tourist island and refused entry to another vessel, as authorities slapped heavy curbs on movement and officials warned an accelerating number of patients could overwhelm intensive care units.

But mainland China reported a drop in new cases yesterday as imported infections fell and no locally transmitted infections were reported while Thailand recorded 107 new cases bringing its total to 934 as South Korea’s tally rose to 9,137 with 100 new infections.

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Similarly, Israelis were yesterday instructed to stay within 100 metres of their homes under tightened restrictions that further reduced public transport, required employers to check workers for fever and set sanctions for people who defy rules.

Yet there are indications that a drug called Remdesivir is on its way to bringing cure for those that have contracted COVID-19 according to WHO source that said that this drug was widely used during Ebola outbreak and other dangerous viruses in the past. It also has strong history of slowing down deterioration process of vital organs of infected persons.

WHO is also working with scientists across the globe on at least 20 different coronavirus vaccines with some already in clinical trials in record time — just 60 days after sequencing the gene, officials said. However, the vaccines are still a long way away from being available for public use, WHO officials cautioned. Once a vaccine is discovered, there will be logistical, financial and ethical hurdles world leaders will face.

However, global jet fuel demand is projected to drop by 70 per cent due to COVID-19 as world leaders move to hold virtual summit on international coronavirus response.

But World Bank has expressed its readiness to deploy about $150 billion to stimulate economic recovery of countries affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.

The funds will be released in tranches over the next 15 months.

President of World Bank Group, David Malpass, gave the indication in his remarks at the G-20 Finance Ministers Conference Call on COVID-19 pandemic.

According to him, these are difficult times for all, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable, and nothing less is required to stimulate global economy on the basis of individual needs of countries.

It will be recalled that following the concurrent spread of the novel coronavirus across the country, Anambra State Government banned all forms of public gathering with effect from Monday, March 23. The directive will last till April 8.

Civil servants, tertiary institutions, secondary, primary as well as nursery schools were also ordered to proceed on compulsory vacation among other safety or precautionary measures.

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