(BREAKING): 193 Nigerians Evacuated From Ukraine Tested Positive For COVID-19, Says FG - NIGERIAN TRIBUNE
By Clement Idoko-Abuja
THE Federal Government has disclosed that 193 Nigerians evacuated from Ukraine have tested positive for COVID-19 and are being managed according to the nation’s protocols.
The government has also announced that it has revised the the International Travel Protocols, which should come into effect on Monday, 4th April, 2022.
Secretary to the Goverment of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, made this known on Monday night during the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 national briefing in Abuja.
This is the first briefing to be held by the PSC since December 2021 and for the year 2022.
Mustapha, who is the Chairman of PSC, revealed that the Port Health Services had so far screened about 2,357 Nigerians evacuated from Ukraine for COVID-19 out of the over 8,000 residents or students living in Ukraine.
“Out of these passengers, 193 tested positive to COVID-19 and are managed according to our protocols,” he said.
According to him, PSC has reviewed situations around the world and applies such to the situation in Nigeria and have revised the International Travel Protocols.
He further disclosed that Nigeria has vaccinated over 20 million persons with at least the first dose.
He said: “We still have the National Response in place as we continue to monitor global trends and adapt them with our situation in country.
“There has been a consistent decline in number of cases around the world but that does not give us the leverage to let our guards down yet because there are predictions of rebounds as we can see in China, South Korea, Germany, Vietnam, France, Hong Kong, among others.
“In fact, China has reintroduced lockdowns in some cities due to the spike in cases.
“So far, the world has recorded over 471 million confirmed cases, six million deaths and over 11 billion vaccine doses administered, while in Nigeria, we have recorded 255,103 and 3,142 persons have died as a result of COVID-19.
“We have vaccinated over 20 million persons with at least the first dose. These number is not very encouraging, hence, the need for all eligible Nigerians to come out and be vaccinated.
“However, the PSC has reviewed these situations around the world and applies such to the situation in Nigeria and have revised the International Travel Protocols, which should come into effect on Monday, 4th April, 2022 as follows:
“In-bound (fully vaccinated) passengers arriving in Nigeria will no longer be required to take a pre-departure PCR COVID-19 Test.”
Hong Kong Airport to Lift Ban on Transit Passengers From April 1 - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong airport will allow transit passengers for the first time in three months, building on the wider relaxation of strict Covid-19 border controls in the Asian financial hub.
Airlines were informed that transit passengers from so-called group A “high-risk” countries will be allowed to transfer through Hong Kong airport from next month, according to a letter dated Mar. 22 seen by Bloomberg News.
Airport Authority Hong Kong, which runs the city’s airport, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Hong Kong Signals Covid Shift by Cutting Flight Bans, Quarantine
Hong Kong laid out broader changes to travel rules on Monday as part of the city’s wider shift in its approach to Covid. Those include halving hotel quarantine time for travelers to seven days from 14, and ending the flight ban on nine countries including the U.S., U.K., and Australia. Risk profiles for countries, currently from ranked A to C, will also be abolished.
The ban had meant people from all countries except China and Taiwan weren’t allowed to transfer through Hong Kong, one of Asia’s premier airport transit hubs in pre-pandemic times.
Strict border controls, including up to three weeks’ quarantine, has left Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. dependent on transit travelers to prop up its Covid-ravaged passenger flight operations.
Green Africa Slashes Fares To N25,500 To Celebrate Easter - INDEPENDENT
By Olusegun Koiki
LAGOS – Green Africa has commenced a special ‘One Month of Easter’ offer with a starting fare of N25, 500 only from March 17 through April 18, 2022.
The airline said that the special fares cut across selected routes.
A statement by Oyindamola Fashogbon, Brand Marketing Specialist, Green Africa said that the special fares would allow customers to book their tickets to meet loved ones for Easter and return to base after the celebrations with affordable flight fares.
Obiukwu Mbanuzuo, the Chief Commercial Officer (COO), Green Africa, said that the offer was timely for its existing customers and new ones.
He reiterated the commitment of the airline to make air travel affordable and accessible to air travellers, hoping that many Nigerians would take the advantage of this opportunity to have the Easter celebration they desire.
The special Easter starting offer of N25,500 is applicable on the gSaver flight ticket, which is recommended for customers who travel light or who would like to pay for luggage separately.
The gClassic ticket, which offers 15kg checked-in luggage starts at N29,500 while the gFlex ticket with 20kg checked-in luggage has a starting fare of N38,500 only across selected routes.
Chinese Air Travel Faces Mass Cancellations After Plane Crash - REUTERS
(Bloomberg) -- About 74% of the 11,800 flights scheduled in China on Tuesday have been canceled, including the majority due between Beijing and Shanghai, typically one of the world’s busiest domestic routes, according to VariFlight.
Chinese air travel had already been hit by Covid-related restrictions, which led to a high level of cancellations, but Tuesday’s rate was still the highest this year and double the number at the start of the month, data from the Chinese aviation data company show.
The cancellations come after a Boeing Co. 737-800 NG operated by China Eastern Airlines Corp. nosedived out of the sky and crashed in Guangxi province on Monday afternoon. There were 132 people on board and no survivors have been found. It was the first fatal air crash in China since 2010.
Of the 35 flights from Shanghai’s Hongqiao Airport to Beijing listed for Tuesday, two operated in the morning and three more were due to fly. All others were scrapped. Only five of the 34 flights from Beijing to Shanghai’s domestic hub were scheduled to operate.
China Eastern shares slid as much as 7.3% in Hong Kong following a 6.5% loss on Monday. They also dropped as much as 9.3% in Shanghai trading Tuesday morning, the worst performers on a Bloomberg gauge of Asia-Pacific airline stocks. Boeing fell 3.6% in New York on Monday.
Remove checkpoints beyond 20km to borders, Reps tell Customs - PUNCH
BY Leke Baiyewu
THE House of Representatives, on Tuesday, urged the Nigeria Customs Service to adhere to the accurately measured 20 kilometers from the Idiroko border at Ihunbo community in the Ipokia Local Government Area of Ogun State.
The House also asked the border security agency to “allow non-petroleum commodities like biscuits, cement, soft drinks and other consumables to go beyond 20 kilometers from the border so that the people can conduct their legitimate businesses with ease.”
Also, the House urged the Federal Government to provide palliatives to the border communities in Ogun State and other parts of the country to “ameliorate the sufferings caused by the continued closure of the land borders.”
These resolutions were based on the motion moved by a member of the House, Kolawole Lawal, titled ‘Need to Relocate Customs Land Border Road Check Point, Idiroko to an Accurate 20 Kilometers Away.’
Moving the motion, Lawal noted that on November 6, 2019, the Comptroller-General of the NCS, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.), issued a directive banning the discharge of petroleum products in any filling station within 20 kilometres to any land border in Nigeria.
Lawan also noted that since the directive, all the land borders in the country had complied with the directive, including Idiroko land border in Ogun State.
The lawmaker pointed out that the 20 kilometers from the land border, in the case of Idiroko border, erroneously terminates at the Ajilete community in the Ipokia Local Government Area, stating that the accurate distance of 20 kilometres from Idiroko terminates at Ihunbo community, “thus the checkpoint should be stationed accordingly.”
“The House is worried that the personnel of the Border Drill Unit, who are charged with the responsibility to enforce the directive in violation of the circular, which is specific about petroleum products, are preventing the residents from transporting other commodities like biscuits, cement, soft drinks and other consumables beyond Ajilete checkpoint.”
No More PCR Test for Fully Vaccinated Travellers - Govt - THISDAY
By Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The Federal Government has disclosed that 193 out of the about 2,357 Nigerians evacuated from Ukraine and screened for COVID-19 have tested positive for the virus.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha announced the development Monday at the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID- 19 briefing.
Mustapha, who is the Chairman of the PSC, said the condition of the affected passengers was being managed according to the country's protocol.
Over 8,000 Nigerian residents, mainly students who were living in Ukraine, were forced to disperse to Poland due to the ongoing military onslaught on Ukraine by Russia.
Meanwhile the federal government has said that in-bound (fully vaccinated) passengers arriving in Nigeria will no longer be required to take a pre-departure PCR COVID-19 test.
Mustapha, who disclosed this, said the new policy followed the revision of the revision of the situations around the world and review of the International Travel Protocols, which comes into effect in Nigeria on April 4, 2022.
According to him, upon arriving in the country, fully vaccinated passengers will have their sample taken at the airport for rapid antigen test by the NCDC within the arrival hall of the airport.
Also, passengers who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated shall take a COVID-19 PCR test 48 hours before departure, or do a Day 2 and day 7 test on arrival.
Fully vaccinated passengers will not be charged for arrival rapid antigen tests at the airport. The rules that apply to fully vaccinated adults also apply to children aged 10 -18 years; they will not be required to have pre-arrival PCR tests but will have a sample taken at the arrival hall but not charged.
He urged caution that although there has been a consistent decline in number of cases around the world, COVID cases are predicted to rebound in China, South Korea, Germany, Vietnam, France and Hong Kong.
He said although over 20 million persons in Nigeria have been vaccinated with at least the first dose, the number was not very encouraging, hence, the need for all eligible Nigerians to come out and be vaccinated.
Delta to commence flight operations to new routes - PUNCH
BY Edidiong Ikpoto
DELTA Airlines has said it will soon commence flight operations to new routes as part of efforts to provide improved services to its customers.
A statement by the airline said through Delta’s partnerships with Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic, customers could access nearly 200 more destinations throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East and India from 19 US cities.
“Customers looking for summer adventures abroad will discover plenty of inspiration in Delta’s service offerings to Europe, which include more routes and destinations in 2022, along with more opportunities to indulge in Delta’s premium cabins with 143 per cent more seats available to customers vs. summer 2021,” the statement said.
Delta’s Senior Vice President, Network Planning, Joe Esposito, was quoted as saying, “Delta has been focused on building back our network to give customers easy, convenient access to wherever they want to go, and we’re delivering on that promise with up to 74 daily flights to 21 European destinations from 10 US gateways this summer.”
Lagos shuts damaged Eko Bridge as fire destroys market, traders lament - PUNCH
BY Deji Lambo, Victor Ayeni and Matthew Agbaje
The Lagos State Government has shut down Eko Bridge after makeshift shops and containers under the bridge in the Apongbon area of the state were gutted by fire on Wednesday.
PUNCH Metro gathered that the fire, which started around 3am, damaged the bridge, as property and goods worth millions of naira were destroyed.
As some traders lamented their losses, a few residents struggled to salvage their property.
The slow movement of vehicles in the community created gridlock, leaving many commuters stranded.
While some motorists bemoaned being trapped in the traffic, other motorists re-routed through the Ebute-Ero axis.
A trader, who identified himself only as Ridwan, said the fire affected businesses and social activities in the area.
“Thank God there is no record of death, but the fire ruined many businesses here,” he added.
Officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority had a tough time directing vehicular movements in the area.
The Director, Lagos State Fire and Rescue Services, Margaret Adeseye, in a statement on Wednesday, said the intensity of the fire affected the bridge, adding that movement on the corridor was truncated.
She said, “The fire, which was reported around 3.14am on Wednesday under the Eko Bridge at Apongbon, where various stocks in trade are plied, was met by the first set of crews of the agency on arrival.
“The nature of the fire was disastrous; there has been no reported case of injury or death.”
The Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, said the fire started from the illegal structures and containers where flammable items were stored.
He added that a post-disaster assessment revealed the need for a thorough review of the location, including integrity tests of the bridge.
“This will be carried out with all stakeholders, including the Federal Ministry for Works, Lagos State Ministries of Works, Special Duties and the Environment; Lagos Fire Service, Federal Fire Service, National Emergency Management Agency and others.
“The occupants of the illegal structures have been issued a notice of 48 hours to remove same from the location to prevent any secondary incident.”
However, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Central Business Districts, Gbenga Oyerinde, who also confirmed that occupants of the illegal structures under the bridge had been asked to vacate the premises, said the removal of containers and makeshift shops affected by the fire had commenced.
He noted that the removal was to forestall the spread of the fire to other parts of the community.
Oyerinde said containers and makeshift shops would no longer be allowed under the bridge.
“Anyone who flouts the directive to steer clear from using under the bridge for storage or trading will be arrested and prosecuted,” he added.
He noted that fire under the Eko Bridge at Oke Arin might become endemic if steps were not taken to forestall a recurrence due to negligence and non-adherence to safety protocols in the area.
The state Commissioner for Transportation, Dr Frederic Oladeinde, said integrity tests would be conducted on the bridge to ascertain the level of damage caused by the fire.
“Motorists who are heading towards Apongbon from Surulere and its environs should use the Ijora/Apapa route or Leventis/UBA Roundabout to connect Marina and their desired destinations. They can also use Ebute Ero to link inner Marina and the Third Mainland Bridge, to continue their journey,” Oladeinde added.
The Acting Coordinator, South-West Zonal Office, National Emergency Management Agency, Ibrahim Farinloye, said the agency received the distress alert around 6am, adding that the fire affected many shops.
He said, “The Federal Ministry of Works has been called upon to close the bridge and carry out integrity tests to determine the safety of the bridge for further usage.
“Lots of shops have gone; the shops consumed were basically selling baking materials. A lot of containers stored with different types of goods exploded and made access very difficult for firemen. The fire started around 12.45pm but the situation was brought under control.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, said the command deployed operatives in the area to forestall a breakdown of law and order.
African students wonder what next after Ukraine war upends education - REUTERS
By Tim Cocks
- Students who escaped bombs now fret about certificates
- Ukraine attracted thousands of Africans with cheaper fees
- Distance learning not a viable option for medical students
JOHANNESBURG, March 24 (Reuters) - Nkateko Muyimane and six fellow African students hid in a subway while Russian shells pounded Kharkiv, before fleeing on a train to Budapest they very nearly failed to board.
Now their main concern is how to salvage the degrees they sacrificed so much to start.
South African Muyimane, 24, and classmate Mandisa Malindisa, 25, were both studying medicine with a year to go before graduating. Now, they say, there is no university left.
"It's been bombed out and turned to rubble," Muyimane said at his brother's apartment in a northern Johannesburg suburb. "Even if we do continue online, medicine is practical: you need to be physically there with the patient."
They are among tens of thousands of African students whose studies were upended by Russia's war on its neighbour, many of whom were drawn to Ukraine's world class educational facilities available at a fraction of the cost of Western universities.
Ukraine's history of attracting Africans to its academies dates back to the Cold War, when Soviet states wooed students from newly independent African nations with the promise of a subsidised education.
Like many parents, Malindisa's mother, a nurse, and father, a civil engineer, tightened their belts, saved and borrowed to put her through Ukraine's Kharkiv National Medical University.
"It was a big sacrifice for the school fees, and the apartment she was renting," her mother Zandile told Reuters.
Malindisa's anxiety about losing her qualification, after all her parents had invested, had kept her in Ukraine, but as war approached, she decided to fly out rather than risk staying.
Her mother booked her three tickets; all got cancelled. She, Muyimane and the five other African classmates endured days of bombardments before fleeing to Pivdennyi Vokzal station. There, they said, they had to fight to get on a train including against a passenger who bit one of them to try to prevent her boarding.
Compared with that horror, finding her a new school seems less daunting.
"I haven't lost hope," Zandile said. "Something will come up for her."
Malindisa worries that she has no certificate to show prospective universities what she has accomplished - getting her transcripts from what is now a war zone isn't going to be easy.
Her fears are shared by many students who returned from Ukraine in recent weeks.
Muyimane's mother is a doctor, and she was proud to have a son follow in her footsteps, he said, adding: "I must make a plan: medicine is my dream".
At her house in Ghana's capital on March 5, 23-year-old medical student Maame Akousa Addo stood over two small duffel bags containing the few things she'd managed to bring back with her to Accra and wondered whether she would be able to go back after the war.
"We're just waiting to hear from our schools," she said. "To see if they will establish a sort of online option."
For Nigerian student Joshua Adebowale, 32, the hope is that things will calm down soon so he can return to Kyiv Medical University, which his parents and brothers were paying for. "Otherwise these will be wasted years and money," he said.
But for compatriot Jasper Ahamefula, 19, who had just started a business studies course, a degree no longer seems an option. He plans to try and start up a business -- tailoring perhaps -- without a qualification.
"It doesn't matter," he said. "My parents, yes it's a lost investment, but they care that I'm alive. That's great, I guess."
Additional reporting by Sisipho Skweyiya in Johannesburg, Cooper Inveen in Accra and MacDonald Dzirutwe in Lagos; Editing by Alexandra Zavis and Emelia Sithole-Matarise
NIN diaspora registration hits 118,529 as NIMC unveils UAE centre - THE GUARDIAN
National Identification Number (NIN) diaspora registration has hit 118, 529 as of March 21, 2022, according to data obtained by The Guardian from the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) dashboard.
In terms of gender registrations, males lead with 65, 533, while females have 52,996 of them registered.
MEANWHILE, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Pantami, has officially opened the 3rd National Identification Number (NIN) diaspora enrolment center in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Pantami, accompanied at the event by the NIMC Director-General/CEO, Aliyu A. Aziz, reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to ensure that all Nigerians have the foundational identity, most especially Nigerians in the diaspora.
He emphasised the need for all Nigerians living and working in the UAE to enrol and be issued the NIN.
NIMC, in a statement signed by its Head, Corporate Communications, Kayode Adegoke, and made available to journalists, explained that the newly-opened centre, which is being managed by NIMC-Licensed Diaspora Enrollment partner, Knowledge Square and Plectrum Limited, brings the total number of centres opened in 38 countries to 152. The Dubai center is located on 19th Floor, Conrad Tower, Sheik Zayed, road, and Trade, centre1, Dubai, UAE.
Meanwhile, Pantami used the occasion to educate Nigerians in the diaspora on the recently launched FG’s NIN Tokenization policy which was unveiled on September 16th 2021 by President Muhammadu Buhari, as part of his administration’s policy of ensuring the protection of data of all NIN holders, especially for verification to access all government services.
It should be recalled that the government had earlier announced March 31, 2022, as the deadline for the adaptation of the Tokenization NIN Verification policy by both the public and private sectors. NIMC said it shall cut overall verification transactions to the NIN Tokenization service with effect from March 31, 2022.