The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), says it is on red alert following global concerns about new strains of COVID-19.
At a press conference in Abuja on Monday, Director General, NCDC, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, warned that the resurgence of coronavirus in China and the increase in hospitalisation and death rates have renewed fears that the disease may be coming back stronger.
Recall that China had relaxed its zero-COVID policy leading to the circulation of new variants, mostly the BA.5.2 and Bf.7. types of the virus.
The NCDC while calling for caution amid the increase in variants and cases, warned that over 663 million confirmed cases and over 6.7 million deaths have been reported globally, already.
“In the Americas and Western Pacific (including China), there has been a 74 and 29 percent increase in cases and a 49 and 35 percent increase in deaths respectively, although in the African Region reports a 73 percent and 32 percent decrease in new cases and deaths compared to the previous week”, according to Adetifa.
Meanwhile, the NCDC boss revealed that Nigeria has tested 5,708,974 samples, confirmed 266,463 cases, discharged 259,850 covid patients and recorded 3,155 deaths.
As the virus mutates, experts claim the XBB.1.5 variant of Omicron is the most transmissible form but it is not clear yet, if it is more dangerous than its ancestors.
However, the COVID virus has continued to take a different epidemiological course in the country as most cases, admissions and deaths have only been related to the Omicron sub-lineages.
NCDC said, “Since the detection of the Omicron variant in December 2021, its sub-lineage (BQ.1/BQ.1.1) has been dominant in Nigeria.
“Despite the mutations and continuous spread, the NCDC warns that the most effective preventive strategy against the disease remains full vaccination.
“The most important action for Nigerians to take is to get vaccinated against COVID-19, as the vaccine is the most important intervention for preventing severe disease, hospitalisation, and death.”
Syria, Turkey Quake Toll Rises To 2,300
The most powerful earthquake to strike Turkey and Syria in nearly a century killed over 2,300 people on Monday, sparked frantic rescues and was felt as far away as Greenland.
The 7.8-magnitude early morning quake, followed by dozens of aftershocks, wiped out entire sections of major Turkish cities in a region filled with millions who have fled Syria’s civil war and other conflicts.
Rescuers used heavy equipment and their bare hands to peel back rubble in search of survivors, who they could in some cases hear begging for help under the debris.
“Since I live in an earthquake zone, I am used to being shaken,” said Melisa Salman, a reporter in the Turkish city of Kahramanmaras.
“But that was the first time we have ever experienced anything like that,” the 23-year-old told AFP. “We thought it was the apocalypse.”
The head of Syria’s National Earthquake Centre, Raed Ahmed, called it “the biggest earthquake recorded in the history of the centre”.
At least 810 people died in rebel and government-controlled parts of Syria, state media and medical sources said, while Turkish officials reported another 1,498 fatalities.
The initial quake was followed by dozens of aftershocks, including a 7.5-magnitude tremor that jolted the region in the middle of search and rescue work on Monday afternoon.
Shocked survivors in Turkey rushed out into the snow-covered streets in their pyjamas, watching rescuers dig through the debris of damaged homes with their hands.
“Seven members of my family are under the debris,” Muhittin Orakci, a stunned survivor in Turkey’s mostly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, told AFP.
“My sister and her three children are there. And also her husband, her father-in-law and her mother-in-law.”
The rescue was being hampered by a winter blizzard that covered major roads in ice and snow. Officials said the quake made three major airports in the area inoperable, further complicating deliveries of vital aid.
Turkey’s last 7.8-magnitude tremor was in 1939, when 33,000 died in the eastern Erzincan province.
‘Ran for the door’
Monday’s first quake struck at 4:17am (0117 GMT) at a depth of about 18 kilometres (11 miles) near the Turkish city of Gaziantep, which is home to around two million people, the US Geological Survey said.
Denmark’s geological institute said tremors from the main quake reached the east coast of Greenland about eight minutes after the tremor struck Turkey.
Osama Abdel Hamid, a quake survivor in Syria, said his family was sleeping when the shaking began.
“I woke up my wife and my children and we ran towards the door,” he said. “We opened it and suddenly all the building collapsed.”
A spokesman for Syria’s civil defence said teams were scrambling to rescue trapped people.
“Many buildings in different cities and villages in northwestern Syria collapsed… Even now, many families are under the rubble,” said Ismail Alabdallah.
The United States, the European Union and Russia all immediately sent condolences and offers of help.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky offered to provide “the necessary assistance” to Turkey, whose combat drones are helping Kyiv fight the Russian invasion.
‘People under rubble’
Images on Turkish television showed rescuers digging through rubble across city centres and residential neighbourhoods of almost all the big cities running along the border with Syria.
Some of the heaviest devastation occurred near the quake’s epicentre between Kahramanmaras and Gaziantep, where entire city blocks lay in ruins under the gathering snow.
A famous mosque dating back to the 13th century partially collapsed in the province of Maltaya, where a 14-story building with 28 apartments that housed 92 people also collapsed.
In other cities, social media posts showed a 2,200-year-old hilltop castle built by Roman armies in Gaziantep lying in ruins, its walls partially turned to rubble.
“We hear voices here — and over there, too,” one rescuer was overheard as saying on NTV television in front of a flattened building in the city of Diyarbakir.
“There may be 200 people under the rubble.”
The Syrian health ministry reported damage across the provinces of Aleppo, Latakia, Hama and Tartus, where Russia is leasing a naval facility.
AFP correspondents in northern Syria said terrified residents ran out of their homes after the ground shook.
Even before the tragedy, buildings in Aleppo — Syria’s pre-war commercial hub — often collapsed due to the dilapidated infrastructure, which has suffered from lack of war-time oversight.
Officials cut off natural gas and power supplies across the region as a precaution, also closing schools for two weeks.
“The size of the aftershocks, which may continue for days although mostly decreasing in energy, brings a risk of collapse of structures already weakened by the earlier events,” David Rothery, an earthquake expert at the Open University in Britain.
READ ALSO: 255 Killed In Afghanistan Earthquake
“This makes search and rescue efforts dangerous.”
Turkey is in one of the world’s most active earthquake zones.
The Turkish region of Duzce suffered a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in 1999, when more than 17,000 people died — including about 1,000 in Istanbul.
Experts have long warned a large quake could devastate Istanbul, a megalopolis of 16 million people filled with rickety homes.
World Powers Rush To Offer Turkey, Syria Aid Over Quake
International offers to help Turkey and Syria with rescue efforts poured in on Monday after a massive earthquake killed around 1,800 people and wreaked devastation.
– European Union –
The European Union has mobilised search and rescue teams for Turkey after the stricken country requested EU assistance.
Ten urban search and rescue teams from various member states will support first responders on the ground, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and EU crisis management commissioner Janez Lenarcic said.
The EU’s Copernicus satellite system has also been activated to provide emergency mapping services, it added.
The EU is also ready to support those affected in Syria, it said.
READ ALDO: bristchHow Nigerian Pastor’s Wife Was Shot 12 Times In US
– UNHCR –
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi voiced “solidarity” with those affected in both countries, saying the UN agency was “ready to help provide urgent relief to the survivors through our field teams wherever possible”.
– India –
India said it would immediately send rescue and medical teams as well as relief equipment to Turkey.
Two National Disaster Response Force teams comprising 100 personnel with dog squads and equipment were ready to be flown to the affected area, the foreign ministry said. Teams of trained doctors and paramedics with medicines were also being readied.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “anguished” and “deeply pained” by the deaths in Turkey — with whom India has frosty relations — and Syria.
– Germany –
Germany — home to about three million people of Turkish origin — will “mobilise all the assistance we can activate”, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said, after speaking with the Turkish ambassador to Berlin.
Germany’s Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) “can set up camps to provide shelter as well as water treatment units”, she said.
The THW agency is also preparing generators, tents and blankets.
A foreign ministry spokeswoman said the German government would hold a crisis meeting later Monday with the relevant ministries to organise an aid package.
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Berlin will also increase its assistance to charities such as Malteser International providing humanitarian aid in northwest Syria by one million euros ($1.1 million), she said.
– Russia –
President Vladimir Putin sent messages to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, conveying Russia’s condolences and offering aid.
“We hope for a speedy recovery for all the injured and are ready to provide the assistance needed to overcome the impact of this natural disaster,” Putin told Assad.
– Ukraine –
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that his war-torn country was “ready to provide the necessary assistance to overcome the consequences of the disaster.”
The message was reiterated by Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who said Ukraine was “deeply saddened by the loss of life and damage” wreaked by the earthquake.
– Greece –
Kyriakos Mitsotakis, prime minister of Turkey’s historic rival Greece, whose relations with Ankara have suffered from a spate of border and cultural disputes, pledged to make “every force available” to aid its neighbour.
Mitsotakis said Ankara had already approved the dispatch of a Greek emergency rescue unit, and Athens was ready to send “additional equipment, medical supplies, blankets, tents” depending on further Turkish requests.
– NATO –
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg voiced “full solidarity” with ally Turkey, saying he was in touch with Turkey’s top leadership and “NATO allies are mobilising support now”.
– Sweden –
Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson of Sweden, whose bid to join NATO is meeting Turkish resistance, tweeted: “Saddened about the loss of lives in Türkiye and Syria following the major earthquake. Our thoughts go to the victims and their loved ones.”
He sent his “deepest condolences” to President Erdogan. “We stand ready to offer our support.”
– France –
President Emmanuel Macron said France stood ready to provide emergency aid to Turkey and Syria. “Our thoughts are with the bereaved families,” he tweeted.
– Britain –
“The UK stands ready to help in whatever way we can,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tweeted saying his thoughts were with the people of Turkey and Syria.
Britain was sending 76 search-and-rescue specialists to Turkey, a minister added.
– Iran –
Iran is ready to provide “immediate relief aid to these two friendly nations”, President Ebrahim Raisi said, offering condolences on the “heartbreaking incident”.
How Nigerian Pastor’s Wife Was Shot 12 Times In US
A republican councilwoman, Eunice Dwumfour, has been shot dead in front of her home in New Jersey, United States of America.
She was the wife of a Nigeria-based pastor, Eze Kings, according to the Foundation for Investigative Journalism.
New York Post gathered that Dwumfour, 30, was hit with about 12 gunshots by a yet-to-be-identified assailant while driving around her home on Wednesday evening. The white Nissan SUV she drove crashed into two parked cars before coming to a stop.
A male witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told NY Post Thursday that Dwumfour’s car was hit with about 12 shots while traveling down Check Avenue toward Samuel Circle around 7:15 p.m.
The vehicle eventually came to a stop after crashing into two parked cars, including the witness’s black Lexus GS350.
Chilling Snapchat footage of the aftermath of the incident showed Dwumfour’s body in the car while first responders surround the scene.
The witness said, “It took a second before I realised there was a dead body behind the wheel.
“She was slumped over the wheel with a black hoodie with brown fur covering her head, her hands were down by her side. There was one bullet hole in the passenger door and a bunch of bullet holes in the driver door. Some other neighbors said they saw someone running away with a mask on.”
Some locals also told RLS Media that the gunman was spotted racing off to the Garden State Parkway, which edges the complex.
On Thursday afternoon, it was also gathered that 20 Sayreville police officers were spotted combing the sides of a Garden State Parkway exit ramp headed toward the Jon Bon Jovi Service Area.
Shortly after, investigators at the murder scene told reporters that Dwumfour was caught on video speaking to the shooter just moments before her death.
The Republican councilwoman — who preached for a Nigerian-based church group — appeared to be the intended target, authorities told the outlet, stressing that there was no obvious motive.
“I heard what sounded like a few shots going off,” dog groomer Kristen Glanforf, who lives on Check Avenue, told The Post of the scene.
“I dropped everything and started running for my apartment. There was a car rolled down to the end of the hill, lights on. The doors were open.”
Community organizer Charlie Kratovil posted video of her SUV being towed away from the scene, and called it “a huge loss for the Sayreville community.”
“I personally knew her to be a very kind person and public servant. May she rest in peace.”
Dwumfour had served the Borough of Sayreville since November 2021, when she ousted the sitting Democrat in a shock election win. She was not up for reelection until 2024.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said he was “stunned” by the news of the councilwoman’s death.
“Her career of public service was just beginning, and by all accounts she had already built a reputation as a committed member of the Borough Council who took her responsibility with the utmost diligence and seriousness,” Murphy said in a statement.
READ ALSO: Former Pakistan President Is Dead
“I send my condolences to Councilwoman Dwumfour’s family and friends, her governing body colleagues, and the entire Sayreville community,” Murphy added.
Sayreville Mayor Victoria Kilpatrick said the whole community was also “shocked and saddened by the loss.”
“Eunice was a dedicated member of our borough council who was truly committed to serve our residents. The fact she was taken from us by this despicable criminal act makes this incident all the more horrifying,” she wrote.
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