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Anxiety over WHO DG’s COVID-19 status

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus


•Ghebreyesus self-quarantines, FG charges two for PPE deal
•New polio vaccine for emergency approval

There is palpable apprehension at the World Health Organisation (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, following the contact by its Director General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, with a person that has tested positive for COVID-19. Consequently, the Ethiopian is self-quarantining in line with extant safety protocols.

In a tweet late on Sunday, the DG added that he was symptom-free and feeling well. “I have been identified as a contact of someone who has tested positive for #COVID19. I am well and without symptoms but will self-quarantine over the coming days, in line with @WHO protocols, and work from home,” Ghebreyesus said.

The 55-year-old has been at the forefront of the organisation’s efforts to contain the pandemic. The former foreign minister stressed on Twitter that, “it is critically important that we all comply with health guidance.

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“This is how we will break chains of #COVID19 transmission, suppress the virus, and protect health systems,” he added. WHO charged individuals on hand-washing, wearing of face masks, social and physical distancing, as well as called on authorities to find, isolate, test and care for infected persons in addition to tracing and quarantining their contacts.

RELATEDLY, two Nigerians, Babatunde Adesanya and Akinpelu Abass, have been arraigned before Justice Anwuli Chikere of the Federal High Court, Abuja for allegedly cloning a Dutch company with intention to defraud the firm of COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies worth millions of euros.

The Federal Government, yesterday, claimed that the defendants were members of a sophisticated transnational criminal network. The prosecutor, through the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, further alleged that they duplicated the corporate website of ILBN Holdings BV, Holland “to transact with and defraud one Freiherr Fredrick Von Hahn, a representative of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia.”

In the 10-count charge, the defendants were said to have fraudulently obtained the sum of 1.5 million euros and another 880,000 euros as advance for the
supply of the PPEs valued at 14.7 million euros from Hahn.

The AGF told the court that the accused and Musterpoint Investment Nigeria Limited were involved in the alleged multi-million euro scam. But when the charge was read to the defendants, they both returned a no guilty plea.

Their counsel, Bunmi Aina-Craig, thereafter applied for bail. However, the application was stalled, as the prosecution team announced that it had not been served. The presiding judge therefore ordered that the defendants be remanded in Kuje Correctional Centre pending hearing of their bail request on November 9.

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The alleged fraud was reportedly committed at the peak of the pandemic in Germany. The AGF informed that government liaised with Interpol to effect the arrest of the duo. The third defendant is a company owned by the second defendant through which the supposed fiddle was perpetrated. Aina-Craig however expressed satisfaction with the short adjournment.

In another development, a new polio vaccine to prevent harmful mutations is to get swift approval of the United Nations health agency.

The drug to check the variant prevalent in the Southern Hemisphere is to receive emergency approval before the end of the year. If it does, it would be the first time WHO will be steering an unlicensed medicine through its emergency listing process.

Wild polio has been almost eradicated. Only two countries – Afghanistan and Pakistan – still report infections. But a version of the virus that birthed from the weakened one is gaining traction.

The type referred to as circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV) is increasing in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Philippines, Malaysia, Yemen and 19 African nations – with Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo and Cote d’ Ivoire – being the worst hit on the continent.

Since this year, there have been more than 460 cases of vaccine-derived polio worldwide. This is more than four times the number detected in the corresponding period of 2019.

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