China Locks Down 21 Million Inhabitants Of Chengdu As Fresh Wave Of COVID-19 Hits
In the file photo, staff members disinfect a residential area after a resident was infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus in Yantai, in China’s eastern Shandong province on August 1, 2021.
STR / AFP
Around 21 million people in the Chinese city of Chengdu effectively went into lockdown on Thursday as authorities raced to snuff out a new Covid-19 outbreak.
China is the last major economy wedded to a zero-Covid policy, stamping out virus flare-ups with snap shutdowns, mass testing, and lengthy quarantines.
Chengdu, in the southwest, became the latest city to announce a shutdown, saying in an official notice that residents must “stay home in principle” from 6:00 pm (1000 GMT) on Thursday to combat a new wave of infections.
Each household will be allowed to send one person out to buy groceries and essential goods per day, provided they have tested negative in the previous 24 hours, the notice said.
It said that all residents would be tested for the virus between Thursday and Sunday, and urged them not to leave the city unless “absolutely necessary”.
“The current state of epidemic control is abnormal, complex, and grim,” the announcement said, adding that the measures aimed to “decisively arrest the spread of the outbreak and guarantee the health of all citizens”.
Chengdu recorded 157 new local infections on Thursday, of which 51 displayed no symptoms, the city government said in a separate notice.
Children in at least 10 cities and provinces are facing disruptions to China’s new academic year as pandemic controls force schools to switch to measures like online learning, according to a news report on Thursday in state-affiliated media.
Xining, the capital of western Qinghai province and home to 2.5 million people, has ordered schools to conduct lessons online, rolled out a mass testing drive and told residents in its main urban area to work from home for three days.
China’s southern hub of Shenzhen said that new virus restrictions would come into force from 6:00 pm (1000 GMT) on Thursday in its Nanshan district, which hosts the headquarters of tech giants Tencent and ZTE.
The district government said it had ordered entertainment venues including bars, cinemas, and karaoke clubs to close, and started requiring residents to produce a recent negative Covid test to enter their housing compounds.
China has stuck to its zero-tolerance virus strategy despite disruptions from the fast-spreading Omicron strain and concern that the approach is stifling its post-pandemic economic recovery.
Last month, travellers in the southern island province of Hainan protested after more than 80,000 tourists were stranded in a resort city because of a Covid-19 flare-up.
Social media videos from the eastern megacity of Shanghai showed panicked crowds fleeing an Ikea store and another building as officials tried to impose local lockdowns in response to two suspected cases.
Bauchi Reports 7,806 Cases Of Tuberculosis
Bauchi State reportedly recorded 7,806 cases of tuberculosis in 2022.
The Executive Secretary, Bauchi State Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Malaria, Dr Sani Mohammad, said on Monday at a news conference to mark the 2023 World Tuberculosis Day in Bauchi.
Mohammed represented the Commissioner for Health, Dr Sabiu Gwalabe, at the news conference.
He said the figure was an increase of 2,154 over the 5,652 recorded in 2021.
The WHO set aside March 24 to mark World Tuberculosis Day annually to raise awareness about tuberculosis and efforts to end the pandemic.
He said also that the 2022 figure, representing about a 53 per cent increase from the 2021 level was the highest recorded so far in the state.
“Out of the 5,518 new cases that were placed on treatment in 2022, about 5,192; that is 94 per cent were successfully treated at the end of the year.
“Bauchi State currently has 794 free tuberculosis treatment centres, 127 diagnostic centres and 15 GeneXperts,’’ he said.
Mohammed said the state government, in collaboration with implementing partners such as Breakthrough Action-Nigeria, was conducting active case findings across Bauchi State.
He said that the 2023 World Tuberculosis Day would be celebrated with a series of phone-in television and radio programmes to increase awareness.
Nutritional support for some patients and combined free testing and treatment for tuberculosis, COVID-19, HIV, Hepatitis and Malaria, would also be provided, he added.
In his remarks, Dr Yakubu Abdullahi, Director, Tuberculosis Control Programme in Bauchi State, said the agency would train paediatric doctors from secondary and tertiary institutions on case detection among children.
He said that there was collaboration also between the agency and nutritional clinics in the state to detect tuberculosis in children.
“Diagnosing tuberculosis in children is a challenge, but we have decided to use their stools as samples,’’ Abdullahi said.
Kwara Receives World Bank Funding To Boost Primary Health Care
Kwara State has secured a World Bank funding to support infrastructure upgrade in at least one primary health care facility in each of the 193 wards of the state.
This is another fruit of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq’s constant payment of counterpart funds for health care services.
The governor will formally launch the programme today, where cheques will be presented to the benefitting Primary Health Care centres (PHCs) across the state.
Executive Secretary of Kwara State Health Care Development Agency Dr. Nusirat Elelu said in a statement that the N887,800,000 support came under the Immunisation Plus and Malaria Progress by Accelerating Coverage and Transforming Services (IMPACT) project, for which the government had paid a counterpart fund.
“In the pursuance of Universal Health coverage for ‘Kwarans’ and repositioning the Primary Health Care system to be able to meet the demands of all and sundry, Kwara State Government along with 13 other states have secured a facility to strengthen Primary Health Care centres across the state,” the statement said.
“This support is coming through the World Bank assisted- IMPACT project through a Decentralised Facility Financing (DFF), with an initial disbursement of investment fund to one Primary Health Care Centre (PHC) in each of the 193 geopolitical wards in Kwara State. This initial investment fund is meant to support the PHCs to achieve an ideal level 2 primary health care centre that has the capacity to provide the basic minimum package of health services.
“The utilisation of these funds will be governed by a work plan developed by the health facility workers in conjunction with the Ward Development Committee, to be approved by the Kwara State Primary Health Care Development Agency. This plan will take care of basic needs in the health centre, such as infrastructural upgrades, equipment, drugs, consumables, clean water sources and security, based on identified needs.
“Furthermore, through the DFF mechanism, operational funds will subsequently be transferred quarterly to these 193 PHCs to meet the day-to-day running of the benefitting health centres. The quarterly operational fund will be jointly administered by the Ward Development Committee chairmen and the officer in charge of the PHCs to foster transparency and accountability. Oversight will also be jointly provided by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, State Primary Health Care Development Agency, LGA Health Authority and the World Bank.”
FG Inaction Delays HPV Vaccine
The Federal Government has yet to introduce the Human Papillomavirus vaccines into the national immunisation schedule, almost three years after it made the promise.
HPV is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract, mainly transmitted through sexual contact, and most people become infected with HPV shortly after the onset of sexual activity.
The World Health Organisation said two HPV types (16 and 18) are responsible for nearly 50 per cent of high-grade cervical pre-cancers, but vaccination against HPV and screening and treatment of pre-cancer lesions are cost-effective ways to prevent cervical cancer.
In his remarks at the flag-off event for the Integrated Medical Outreach Programme on March 16, 2020, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, promised that “in the next couple of months,” the Rotavirus and Human Papillomavirus vaccines would be introduced into the national immunisation schedule.
It was reported that on August 22, 2022, the government introduced the Rotavirus vaccine into routine immunisation to protect against rotavirus infections among children in the country.
While the FG launched the Rotavirus vaccine 29 months after the promise, it has yet to introduce the HPV vaccines into routine immunisation, 35 months after the promise.
Responding to an inquiry, the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib, was quoted to have said, “The HPV vaccine is to prevent HPV infection, which is the leading cause of cervical cancer in women in the country and globally. The planned introduction of the HPV vaccine into the country’s routine immunisation schedule for girls (at the age of nine) is on track.
“An introduction proposal was submitted to GAVI, and the country has received provisional approval to introduce the vaccine in Quarter 3, 2023. The pre-introduction activities have already commenced. The introduction is going to be phased and completed in 2024, and then run as routine immunisation in the country.”
Speaking with our correspondent, an oncologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos, Prof Francis Durosinmi-Etti, the vaccines should be introduced and made widely available in the country.
“This will help save many lives. It is not too much for the government to integrate it into routine immunisation in the country. It is the only way we can move forward, that is what they do abroad and in some other African countries,” Durosinmi-Etti said.