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#COVID19 Updates: UN Warns of ‘Generational Catastrophe’ Over School Closures

BellaNaija.com

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288 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Nigeria on Monday, August 3.

According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Lagos recorded 88 new cases while the FCT recorded 25 fresh cases. The other states with new cases include Kwara – 33, Osun – 27, Enugu – 25, Abia – 20, Kaduna – 17, Plateau and Rivers – 13, Delta – 10, Gombe – 8.

Nigeria now has 44,129 confirmed cases.  20,663 patients have so far been discharged with 896 deaths recorded.

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the world is facing a “generational catastrophe” on education

In March, schools were closed all over the world, affecting more than 1 billion students. At least 40 million students worldwide have missed out on education this year.

Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General warned on Tuesday that the world is facing a “generational catastrophe” because of school closures amid the coronavirus pandemic and “getting students back into schools and learning institutions as safely as possible must be a top priority” once local transmission of Covid-19 is under control.

According to CNN, he said:

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to the largest disruption of education ever… Despite the delivery of lessons by television, radio and online, and the best efforts of teachers and parents, many students remain out of reach.

Learners with disabilities, those in minority or disadvantaged communities, displaced and refugee students, and those in remote areas are at highest risk of being left behind. And even for those who can access distance learning, success depends on their living conditions.

Parents, especially women, have been forced to assume heavy care burdens in the home.

We already faced a learning crisis before the pandemic,” he said. “Now we face a generational catastrophe that could waste untold human potential, undermine decades of progress, and exacerbate entrenched inequalities.

More than 250 million school-age children were out of school before the start of the pandemic and only a quarter of secondary school children in developing countries were leaving school with basic skills. The knock-on effects on child nutrition, child marriage and gender equality, among others, are also deeply concerning.

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Unity schools to reopen to SS3 students as from Today

The Minister of State for Education Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba on Monday, August 3, announced that the 104 unity schools in the country will reopen to SS3 students from tomorrow August 4.

The Minister who made the announcement at the end of a virtual meeting with Commissioners of Education in 36 States and other stakeholders, lauded Principals of the Colleges for the comprehensive preparation put in place ahead of tomorrow’s resumption, Punch reports.

A statement by the Director, Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Education (FMoE), Ben Goong read:

Ahead of August 4 2020, the Minister of State for Education, Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba has announced that all the 104 Unity Colleges are ready to open their gates to exit classes tomorrow.

Announcing the preparedness of the Unity Colleges at a meeting with Honourable Commissioners of Education of the 36 States of the Federation this (Monday) morning via the Zoom platform, the Minister lauded Principals of Unity Colleges for the comprehensive preparation put in place for resumption.

Across states, Honourable Commissioners reported varying degrees of preparation and readiness for reopening between August 4 and 10 for virtually all schools within their jurisdictions.

From Monday, the Honourable Minister of State for Education, Permanent Secretary and Directors will embark on an assessment tour of all Unity Colleges to ascertain and confirm the reports they have received from the Principals of Unity Colleges.

Similarly, Federal Education Quality Assurance Directors deployed to the States have been directed to monitor compliance in their respective states. Honourable Commissioners from the States were enjoined to embark on assessment tours in their jurisdictions to ascertain the level of preparations for reopening.

While most schools will reopen tomorrow (Tuesday), others will continue to fine-tune their preparations in the coming days for reopening. Education Minister, Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, is asking all schools to communicate their specific reopening dates to their parents and students in order to avoid chaos in the system.

All returning students are to undergo temperature checks among other protocols before being admitted into their schools.

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Here’s why Air Peace sacked a large number of Pilots

Air Peace has sacked 69 pilots across its fleet types as the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a huge toll on its operations, Punch reports.

The airline which stated that the job erasure for pilots amongst it over 3000 staff became imperative because it could not afford to continue to fulfil its financial obligations without carrying out a restructuring of its entire operations to survive the times, added that it was a painful but rightful decision.

The statement released on Monday, August 3 also revealed that airline’s management also affected a raft of measures including a cut of zero to 40 per cent in the salaries of staff.

It reads:

This decision is inevitable under the circumstances we find ourselves. In order to protect the continuity of the majority of the existing jobs and the possibility of creating new ones in future, the survival of the airline is of paramount importance. When everything comes back to normal those pilots affected today will have a place to come back to in future if they so wish.

Anything short of what we have done may lead to the collapse of an airline as could be seen in some places worldwide during this period.

Therefore, we decided to review the salaries being paid to all staff. The new salaries reflect zero to 40 per cent cut of the former salary depending on the salary grades of every staff.

Even after the cuts, it was obvious for us to be able to sustain our operations and survive the times, some jobs must inevitably have to go.

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Ogun State makes COVID-19 test free for all returning ss3 boarding students

The Ogun state government has announced that the COVID-19 test for returning students which was earlier pegged at N25, 000 per student, is now free.

A statement from the state governor, Dapo Abiodun, announcing the reversal on Twitter reads:

The State has been very apprehensive about the issue of school opening even for exit students. Data from other countries, where schools have resumed show that community transmission in school environments is a major concern. Even countries with stronger health care facilities than ours are being very cautious.

In line with the Federal Ministry of Education recommendation and WASSCE timetable, we decided to open our schools on the 4thAugust 2020 for SS3 students only. We put in place guidelines that would ensure that our students resume in a safe environment.

In our pre-opening engagements with stakeholders, opening of boarding houses was discussed. Our State has one of the largest population of boarding students in the country, coming from all over the Country. After consultations with health professionals, we concluded that testing the children for COVID-19 before admittance will reduce the risk of community transmission. This is to reassure parents and even teachers of the safety of everybody concerned.

The State planned and provided testing, free of charge, for boarding students in our public schools and allowed for the management and parents of private schools to make their arrangements to get COVID tests. The two Ogun State run laboratories have a capacity for about 500 tests a day and conduct free tests for traced contacts or symptomatic patients. To meet the additional demand for the expected number of boarding students, the statement from the Ogun State Ministry of Education, Science and Technology listed some private test centers which set up sampling points in some of our Health facilities.

These private laboratories have been accredited by NCDC and Lagos State Government for walk-in tests and charge N50,400 per test but I understand that the Ministries of Health and Education negotiated this to N25,000 for boarding students in private schools that may wish to use them. There is no financial benefit to the State Government.

After reviewing these developments, I have today immediately directed that the Government Laboratories carry out test for all returning SS3 boarding students at no cost. I have also directed that all those who have paid for tests be refunded.

The health of our children remains our utmost priority, however in view of the total number of boarding students to be tested (5,340private and 500 public), and bearing in mind the limitation of our installed testing capacity of 500 tests per day, it may not be feasible for all boarding students to get tested and get their results prior to resumption or even exams which commence on 17th August 2020.

Consequently the State Government has therefore stepped down the COVID-19 test as a mandatory requirement for returning students in our exit classes. We therefore enjoin Private School owners to exercise their duty of care to their pupils. The admittance of students into boarding house in private secondary schools will be at the discretion of the management and the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) of such private schools.

Ogun State Government recommends that students who do not have to stay in the boarding house should attend school from home, especially those with underlying health conditions.

I have also directed the provision of face masks to all students in both private and public schools.

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Governor Nasir El-Rufai

Kaduna state government to reopen schools for SS3 students on August 10

The Kaduna State Government has approved Monday, August 10, 2020, as the resumption date for the Senior Secondary School (SS)3 students that are expected to begin their WASSCE slated for 17th August 2020.

According to a statement released by the Commissioner for Education, Shehu Mohammed, the state governor, Nasir El-Rufai, gave the approval to enable the students to write their West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) slated for August 17, 2020. Mohammed directed all secondary school principals to make arrangements to receive SS3 boarding students on August 9 and day students on August 10 respectively.

“The guidelines include reduced hours of work/revision to 4 hours per shift, strict social distancing both in the classes, laboratories, libraries and hostels, consistency of temperature monitoring and handling any suspected case of COVID 19 case to the health authorities,” he said.

Read the full statement here:

 

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WHO director-general urges everyone to “do it all” to control COVID-19

At a press briefing in Geneva on Monday, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke about a meeting of the Emergency Committee on COVID-19.

He said:

It was a sobering moment coming six months on from when the committee advised, and I agreed, that the outbreak constituted a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

Speaking on the rise in cases since this initial meeting, going from fewer than 100 cases and no deaths outside China on January 30, to more than 17.5 million cases and 680,000 deaths.

Since then, the number of #COVID19 cases has increased more than fivefold to 17.5 million, and the number of deaths has more than tripled, to 680,000. At the time, 30 January, there were fewer than 100 cases and no deaths outside of China.

When the Committee met three months ago, 3 million cases of #COVID19 had been reported to WHO, and more than 200,000 deaths. In addition to the direct toll #COVID19 is having, the Committee noted the health impact that disrupted services are having on a range of other diseases. That compounds what we already know about reduced immunisation coverage, cancer screening & care, mental health services.

A survey of responses from 103 countries between mid-May & early July found that 67% of countries report disruption in family planning and contraception services. More than half of countries reported disruption in antenatal care services and more than a third of countries reported disruption in childbirth services.

On top of the health impact, we have seen the damage #COVID19 has caused socially, economically and politically. The Committee put forward a number of recommendations for countries to continue to implement to bring the virus under control. These range from sharing best practice, to enhancing political commitment and leadership for national strategies and localized response activities driven by science, data, and experience.

The Committee put forward a number of recommendations for countries to continue to implement to bring the virus under control.

We know from serology studies – most people remain susceptible to #COVID19, even in areas that have experienced severe outbreaks. Over the past week we’ve seen several countries that appeared as though they were past the worst now contending with fresh spikes in cases.

We’ve also seen how some countries, regions or localities that had a high number of cases are now bringing the outbreak under control. It’s not easy, of course. Strict measures may cause their own problems for the delivery of essential health services, the economy & societies overall.

The Committee acknowledged that Member States have tough choices to make to turn the #COVID19 epidemic around. But they were also clear that when leaders step up and work intensely with their populations, this disease can be brought under control.

Watch the press briefing:

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