France will impose a 10-day quarantine on arrivals from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and South Africa over concerns about variants of the coronavirus, the prime minister’s office announced Saturday.
Although flights from Argentina, Chile and South Africa will not be suspended, all arrivals from those countries will have to submit to the quarantine or face fines.
Flights from Brazil were suspended until at least next Friday because of concern about the P1 variant of the coronavirus, which is more contagious than the original strain and can also re-infect those who have had the original virus.
Justifying the decision not to ban flights from the other three countries, Paris said that those variants had not reached the levels observed in Brazil.
The new quarantine measures will be gradually introduced over the coming days until they are fully enforced by next Saturday.
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The new measures will also restrict arrivals from the named countries, mainly to French and their families as well as other EU nationals and others who are French residents.
Arrivals from French Guyane and the Antilles will also be subjected to tests before and after their flights, said the statement.
France has recently tightened restrictions in its fight against the third wave of the coronavirus, imposing an overnight curfew, closing non-essential shops and restricting travel inside the country.
COVID-19 resurgence, threat to oil demand recovery – OPEC
The resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic in many countries is posing a threat to economic and oil demand recovery, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries has said.
It disclosed this at the 16th OPEC and non-OPEC ministerial meeting of the Declaration of Cooperation, which took place via teleconference on Tuesday.
In a document on some of the deliberations at the meeting, the organisation stated that participants highlighted the continuing recovery in the global economy, supported by unprecedented levels of monetary and fiscal support.
They noted that the recovery was expected to pick up in the second half of the year, but observed that the resurgence of COVID-19 across the globe could hamper economic and oil demand recovery.
OPEC said, “The ministerial meeting emphasised, however, that COVID-19 cases are rising in a number of countries, despite the ongoing vaccination campaigns, and that the resurgence could hamper the economic and oil demand recovery.”
The meeting also emphasised the ongoing positive contributions of the Declaration of Cooperation in supporting a rebalancing of the global oil market.
This, according to the organisation, was in line with the historic decisions taken at the 10th (Extraordinary) OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting on April 12, 2020 to adjust downwards overall crude oil production, and subsequent decisions.
The meeting further reviewed the monthly report prepared by the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee, including the crude oil production data for March 2021.
Participants welcomed the positive performance of the participating countries, as they noted that overall conformity to the production adjustments was 115 per cent in March 2021, reinforcing the trend of high conformity by the nations.
OPEC said the meeting expressed its appreciation to the participating countries that performed beyond expectation in March 2021, with total over-conformed volumes of 1.23 million barrels per day.
It, however, noted that some participating countries had yet to achieve the minimum expectation of 100 per cent conformity and to compensate for overproduced volumes.
Close international airports, increase COVID-19 testing, experts tell FG
In a bid to avert the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts have advised the Federal Government to close international airports for two weeks and increase COVID-19 testing capacities.
The President, President Academy of Medicine Specialties of Nigeria, Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, in a statement on Tuesday said, the low-level transmission in the country was largely due to the lockdowns going on in Europe and some countries.
He said, “There is the urgent need to enforce the use of PTF regulations of social distancing, washing of hands, the use of hand sanitisers and the wearing of facemasks.
“In view of the current trends regarding the third wave, The Academy of Medicine Specialties and our Rapid-Response initiative group of the Academy of Medicine Specialties feel that we should close our international airports to all flights for at least two weeks. This third wave is affecting not only India but France, Germany and Italy. The Federal Government should be proactive.
“Nigeria cannot afford to have a third wave. Only a small percentage of the population have been vaccinated. Furthermore, all the theories speculated for our immunity such as heat, sun, and other endemic immunities also applies to India,” he said.
Also, a medical virologist at Adeleke University, Dr Oladipo Kolawole, in an interview with our correspondent said, Nigerians should be warned to adhere strictly to the non-pharmaceutical measures to prevent COVID-19.
“Everyone needs to be careful to avoid something like the third wave of Spanish influenza between 1918/19. However, testing has reduced, so we may not accurately picture what is going on. More COVID-19 tests should be carried out to understand the epidemiological trend to know the circulating variants in the country. International travels should be well monitored and coordinated, putting in mind countries affected by the third wave as it demands,” he said.
EU sues AstraZeneca over vaccine delivery shortfall
The European Union Monday launched legal action against pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca over its COVID-19 vaccine delivery shortfalls that hampered efforts to kickstart inoculations across the bloc.
AstraZeneca has so far delivered about a quarter of the 120 million doses it had promised to the EU
According to EU spokesman Stefan De Keersmaecker: “The Commission has started last Friday a legal action against the company AstraZeneca on the basis of breaches of the advanced purchase agreement.
“Some terms of the contract have not been respected and the company has not been in a position to come up with a reliable strategy to ensure the timely delivery of doses.”
De Keersmaecker said the action was launched by the EU executive “on behalf of the 27 member states that are fully aligned in their support of this procedure”.
“What matters to us, in this case, is that we want to make sure that there’s a speedy delivery of a sufficient number of doses that European citizens are entitled to, and which have been promised on the basis of the contract,” he said.
AstraZeneca dismissed the legal action as “without merit” but insisted “we welcome this opportunity to resolve this dispute as soon as possible”.
In a statement, the company stated: “AstraZeneca has fully complied with the Advance Purchase Agreement with the European Commission and will strongly defend itself in court/”
AstraZeneca is due to have delivered about 50 million doses to Europe by the end of April, far lower than the amount Brussels insists should have come.
The commission said the firm only provided 31 million of 120 million expected doses in the first three months of 2021. The company has warned it will send just 70 million from another 180 million doses initially promised by June.
COVAX shops for alternative vaccines
Meanwhile, amid the shortage of supplies of COVID-19 vaccine doses, the COVAX vaccine-sharing plan is seeking to boost its supplies of vaccine doses for poor countries including Nigeria, from new manufacturers as it aims to mitigate supply problems of the AstraZeneca shot from India.
This development will see the global programme – co-led by the GAVI vaccine alliance and the World Health Organisation, WHO, restart deliveries of doses from India’s Serum Institute to the COVAX participating countries.
COVAX says it is in conversations with other manufacturers of other candidates on supply schedules and anticipates announcing new deals for vaccines and vaccine candidates.
COVAX’s rollout of vaccines has been disrupted by supply and production hold-ups of the AstraZeneca shot, and aggravated by a temporary hold on exports of the SII-made version of the vaccine as India battles to contain surging infections.
Serum had stated that it hoped to raise its monthly output of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 shot to 100 million doses by July from 60-70 million now, later than a previous timeline of end-May.
NPHCDA vaccinates 1,175,285 persons
An update released by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, on Monday 26th April 2021 revealed that 1,175,285 eligible Nigerians have so far been vaccinated with the first dose representing 58.4 per cent of the proportion vaccinated
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