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Medical council validates four coronavirus test kits – registrar

The Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN) says it has validated four Rapid Test Kits to determine their suitability for testing SAR-COV-2 infection popularly known as COVID-19 in the country.

The Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of MLSCN, Dr Tosan Erhabor, disclosed this in a video posted on the official twitter account of the council @MedLabNigeria.

Erhabor said the council placed an advert in four National Daily Newspapers on March, 30, requesting for submission of COVID-19 test kits by manufactures of their sales representatives in the country.

“A total of eleven 11 in-vitro Diagnostics; one Polymerase Chain Reaction based kit, nine Rapid Test Kits (RTKs) two Antigen based seven Antibody based kits and one Viral Transport Medium (VTM) were received.

“They were received for validation at MLSCN Public Health in-Vitro Diagnostics Control Laboratory, Yaba, Lagos.

“However, out of the seven Antibody based RTKs submitted for validation, only four of the RTKs met validation inclusion criteria; the validation of PCR based and Antigen based Rapid Test Kits are ongoing,’’ he said.

According to him, the results from validation show that four COVID-19 Rapid Test Kits validated, fell below the generally acceptable minimum for Intro-Diagnostic (IVD) Sensitivity of 95 per cent.

“Therefore, none was approved for the purpose of diagnosis and surveillance in Nigeria.

“It became clear from the standardised validation done by MLSCN that manufacturers’ claims as contained in the product insert about sensitivity, specificity and accuracy are not always correct.

“In this case, we observed a significant standard deviation, an indication that Rapid Test Kits that are not validated poses higher risks of providing false positive and negative results.

“Though, all the Rapid Test Kits validated, fulfilled the requirement to perform laboratory test without the need of equipment and were able to produce results in less than two minutes,* he said.

However, the registrar said for a rapid test to be deployed for disease surveillance and diagnosis, it should be able to detect a disease-causing agent when it is present and to return a negative result if the causing agent is absent.

“In order words, it must possess good sensitivity so it can detect the presence of disease.

“It must also possess good sensitivity so that no interfering substances can lead to a false positive instead of negative results in the absence of etiological agent of the disease.

“Therefore, for a kit to be considered reliable for laboratory diagnosis and disease surveillance, the kit should have a high sensitivity and specificity.

“A kit performing very well in one of these characteristics without the other renders it unsuitable for diagnostic testing, It is also unsuitable if both characteristics are low,’’ he said.

In addition, Erhabor said the kits did not meet the expected performance characteristics of sensitivity and specificity to qualify their deployment for the purposes of testing in disease surveillance and routine diagnosis.

“The four rapid test kits validated so far are not approved for the purpose of diagnosis and surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 infection in Nigeria.

“They are therefore not approved for marketing in Nigeria; No SARS-COV-2 Rapid Test is currently approved for use in Nigeria.

“We are using this opportunity to caution against the use of any non-validated Rapid Kits for COVID-19 testing in Nigeria as this will attract sanctions in accordance with the law,’’ he said.

According to him, validation of other Rapid Test Kits for SARS-COV-2 infection is ongoing, as Nigerians will be informed when suitable test kits meet minimum validation requirements.

“MLSCN assures the Federal and State Ministries of Health and indeed the government of Nigeria of its commitment to ensuring quality healthcare delivery as enshrined in the statute books,’’ Erhabor said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN) is a Federal Government Statutory Regulatory Agency established by Act 11 of 2003.

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Nigerian celebrities mourn deceased Majek Fashek

Legendary reggae artiste, Majekodunmi Fasheke, aka Majek Fashek is dead. The artiste died in a New York hospital after a protracted illness on Monday about 5-45pm. He was aged 71.

Nigerian celebrities have taken to their social media platforms to mourn the death of Music Legend, Majekodunmi Fasheke, a.k.a Majek Fashek.

Fashek’s a.k.a rain maker’s death was announced by his manager, Omenka Uzoma, through a short video on his instagram page.

Some of the celebrities include Chibuzor Azubuike a.k.a Phyno, Olanrewaju Fasasi, a.k.a Sound Sultan displayed the reggae artist pictures on their Instagram pages.

Other include Yomi Black, Bimbo Esho, actress Toyin Adegbola and Jude Okoye were not equally left out.

Phyno wrote: “Rest in peace, Legend.”

Sound Sultan had this on his page: “Rest in peace, power Majek.”

Yomi Black wrote:” Rest in peace, Majek Fashek.”

Also, Bimbo Esho, Chief Executive Officer, Evergreen Musical Company, mourned the late reggae maestro as she wrote ” Adieu Majek Fashek. May you journey well. The Rainmaker takes a final bow to the cold hands of death.

Actress Toyin Adegbola said “Rest in peace, Majek.”

Jude Okoye, Chief Executive Officer of Northside Music, also wrote: “Rest peacefully, my Legend.”

Fashek died June 1, at the age of 57, in a hospital in New York.

Fashek was a Nigerian singer, songwriter and guitarist, who was best known for his 1988 album ”Prisoner of Conscience”, which included the multiple award-winning single, “Send Down the Rain”.

Fashek, worked with various artists worldwide, including Tracy Chapman, Jimmy Cliff, Michael Jackson, Snoop Dogg and Beyonce.

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Rwanda set to announce new coronavirus restrictions

Rwanda says it will announce new restrictions on containing the coronavirus Tuesday, a stark reversal of the country's plan days ago to ease restrictions, including motor vehicle travel throughout the country.

Rwanda says it will announce new restrictions on containing the coronavirus Tuesday, a stark reversal of the country’s plan days ago to ease restrictions, including motor vehicle travel throughout the country.

Rwanda’s latest move is linked to the east African country’s first recorded death from the coronavirus and a surge in cases over the weekend.

Rwanda recorded 11 new cases Saturday as the country’s first person to die of the virus was laid to rest.

Rwanda also decided to continue restrictions on motor vehicle travel between provinces and the City of Kigali in an effort to protect the public from the spread of the virus.

Rwanda has confirmed 370 COVID-19 cases and one death.

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Nigeria declares telecoms facilities critical national Infrastructure

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari3

In response to the yearnings of industry stakeholders to declare telecom facilities Critical National Infrastructure, President Muhammadu Buhari, has finally approved and also directed that necessary physical protective measures be put in place to safeguard telecommunications infrastructure deployed across the country.

This followed a proposal by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Ibrahim Pantami, to the President to identify telecommunications infrastructure as Critical National Infrastructure, with a view to protecting them from vandalization and theft, amongst other things.

Recall that telecom operators and industry players had over the years been consistent in their demand for the Federal government to declare all telecoms facilities across the country critical national infrastructure but their request was never heeded to, leading to frequent vandalization of telecoms infrastructure in various parts of the country.

The Nigerian telecommunications industry, depends on a number of infrastructure that play a critical role in the smooth delivery of telecoms services.

These are part of Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) because of the important role they play, in ensuring security and in the delivery of other essential services.

As part of the policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Minister of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, decided to champion the efforts to identify telecommunications infrastructure as Critical National Infrastructure, with a view to protecting them from vandalization and theft, amongst other things.

The Minister, who disclosed this on Tuesday in a statement pointed out that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, has led to a massive migration to digital platforms and has increased the level of importance of Critical National Infrastructure to the sustenance of our economy and the security of the nation.

“The Minister is delighted to inform stakeholders in the telecommunications industry that, President Muhammadu Buhari, has approved and also directed that necessary physical protective measures be emplaced to safeguard telecommunications infrastructure deployed across the country,” the statement said.

With the presidential directive, the Minister said the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Department of State Security Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), have been notified of Mr President’s directive and are expected to enforce same as directed.

While, appreciating the security institutions, and commending them for their commitment in securing these infrastructure, he noted that the ministry are also working towards the reinforcement of the directives through appropriate regulatory instruments.

“The implementation of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) and the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, both unveiled by Mr. President, have repositioned the ICT sector.

“This is evident by the recent ‘Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product Report’ released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which showed that the ICT sector contributed an unprecedented 14.07% to the total real GDP in the first quarter of 2020.

“The Minister is truly grateful for the timely approval of President Muhammadu Buhari, and we are confident that this will address the challenge of vandalism of our Critical National Infrastructure.

“It will also go a long way in supporting the implementation of the National Broadband Plan (2020-2025),” the Minister said.

He however, urged the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to ensure that they further reduce the price of data and calls for citizens to reciprocate the government gesture.

He also advised them to submit a comprehensive list of their facility locations all over the country.

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ASCAB: President Buhari’s speech underestimate Sani Abacha’s $5 billion loot

President Muhammadu Buhari has again, addressed Nigerians on the efforts of its government to contain the coronavirus pandemic (covid-19) that is ravaging the country 4

Alliance for Surviv­ing COVID-19 and Beyond, (ASCAB), a group led by prominent Nigerian human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has said that President Mu­hammadu Buhari’s claim that late dictator, Sani Abacha, stole $1 billion con­tradicts the figures earlier released by his own officials.

The group described as inconsistent the President’s statement contained in an ar­ticle he wrote for the interna­tional magazine, Newsweek adding that the $1bn quoted by Buhari is barely one fifth of the total amount top officials of the same government claimed to have recovered from the late military henchman.

In a statement signed by ASCAB Secretary for Pub­licity, Adewale Adeoye and made available to newsmen on Monday said that the President’s article falls short of reflecting the stark realities of corruption at the home front and had ridiculed the image of the country as forebears of truth.

“There is a wide gap be­tween the $1b President Bu­hari claimed Abacha had sto­len and the $5b earlier admitted by the same government. This raises fundamental questions about the whole gamut of the campaign against corruption which is one of the focal points of Buhari’s regime.”

The group insisted that the inconsistency has raised fresh dusts that suggest the Federal Government is con­cealing its knowledge about the extent the country was gang-raped by an outstand­ing rogue regime that ruled the country for five years.

“Buhari’s views were pub­lished in last week’s edition of Newsweek magazine. Pres­ident Buhari, in the Newsweek wrote that “close to $1bn of funds stolen from the people of Nigeria under a previous, undemocratic junta in the 1990s that have now been re­turned to our country from the US, UK and Switzerland,” yet Transparency International, (TI) said the FG recovered not less than $3.6 billion from the Abacha loot from 1998-2020.

ASCAB, established by la­bour and over 70 civil society spread across Nigeria came in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic to ensure tiers of government are pinned down to the highest levels of fiscal responsibility in the face of economic meltdown associat­ed with COVID-19.

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FRSC spokesman, others decorated with new ranks

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The Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Dr Boboye Oyeyemi, has decorated spokesman Mr Bisi Kazeem and others with the new rank of Assistant Corps Marshal.

The decoration ceremony followed the just concluded promotion of senior officers on 30 May by the FRSC board.

According to Oyeyemi it has been the culture of the Corps since 2014, not to delay the seasons of reward or let go without due recognition of individuals.

“These are for those who have continued to strive to make FRSC a best global practice sustainable corporate organisation,’’ he said.

Oyeyemi congratulated the newly promoted officers for the deserved elevation and implored them to be happy and proud of their success.

He said that the promotion was an indication of their hard work.

Kazeem thanked the board and management of FRSC for giving them the opportunity to serve in the new capacities.

He commended the transparency and objectivity that heralded the entire promotion process.

He pledged the officers’ commitment to work more, noting that he was aware that every promotion comes with more responsibility.

“This particular one, no doubt, will certainly propel us to work harder to ensure that all lives are saved on the road,’’ he said.

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Roadside bomb kills seven in Afghanistan

Seven civilians were killed by a roadside bomb linked to the Taliban in northern Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday, even as authorities pressed for peace talks with the militants.

The blast struck a small truck carrying a group of labourers late Monday in the volatile district of Khan Abad, in the province of Kunduz.

No group claimed responsibility, but Kunduz provincial spokesman Esmatullah Muradi pointed the finger at the Taliban.

“The Taliban usually plant roadside bombs to target security forces, but their bombs usually kill civilians,” he told AFP.

Two of six others wounded in the blast were in critical condition, said district chief Hayatullah Amiri.

Earlier this year, a United Nations report said more than 10,000 people were killed or wounded in the war in 2019 alone.

Overall violence across much of Afghanistan has dropped, however, since May 24 when the Taliban announced a surprise three-day ceasefire to mark the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

Violence had surged after the Taliban signed a landmark agreement with the United States in February, which paves the way for the withdrawal of all foreign forces by May next year.

President Ashraf Ghani had welcomed the Taliban ceasefire offer and authorities announced around 2,000 Taliban prisoners would be released in a “goodwill gesture” with a view to kickstarting peace talks.

Afghanistan’s former chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, who has been appointed to lead the talks, said his team was ready to begin negotiations “at any moment”.

The Taliban have not said when talks might take place.

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Senate calls for quick diversification of economy, frowns against high cost of oil production

The Senate has described as “erroneous” report that it approved fresh loan of N850 billion at the plenary on Tuesday.

The upper chamber of the National Assembly has called on the federal government to quickly diversify the economy, following the high cost of oil production without commensurate result.

Berating the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for the high cost, which resulted into marginal profit of just $3 per barrel for the country, the Senate noted that the high cost of oil production in the country is higher than other oil producing nations.

This development was noted when when officials of NNPC appeared before the Senate Committee on Finance.

The Senate also noted that the high cost of oil production which is $21.2 per barrel, almost equaling $25 per barrel oil price benchmark fixed for the N10.509 trillion 2020 revised budget.

The upper chamber expressed its displeasure when the Chief Operating Officer (COO) (Upstream) of NNPC, Engineer Yemi Adetunji was called upon by the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (APC Lagos West) to explain why cost of oil production in Nigeria is far higher than those of other oil producing countries of the world.

The lawmaker noted that while cost of oil production in Saudi Arabia is $4 per barrel and $3 per barrel in Russia, it is $21.2 per barrel in Nigeria, indicating very poor marginal profit of about $3per barrel based on new oil price benchmark of $25 per barrel.

Responding to this development, the NNPC COO, explained that the high cost of oil production is as a result of series of peculiarities ranging from security to crude oil theft in the country.

Almost all the members of the Committee pointed out that his explanation was untenable, insisting that the required actions must be taken to address the abnormality .

In his remark, Senator James Manager (PDP Delta South), said the security problem mentioned by the NNPC COO, was not tenable as similar problems exist in all other oil producing countries without high cost of production like Nigeria.

He said: “Even the reason that he gave for the high cost of production per barrel I think they are not tennable because wherever oil is produced they have their own security challenge even Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia, they have their own unique security issues, how is our own so peculiar that our cost of production is up to $21 per barrel.

“You also mentioned administrative issue, which are those administrative issues, why are we different from the rest of the world. These are issues that the national assembly are supposed to take up.”

Also speaking, Senator Shaibu Gumau (APC Bauchi South), another member of the Committee, declared that the existing $21.2 per barrel high cost of oil production and $25per barrel oil price benchmark is economical for the country .

He said: “I can’t just believe even common sense cannot agree with this not even the National Assembly. How could we expect a situation where cost of production of oil per barrel is $21.2 and the revenue is $25 per barrel.

“Yet other countries in the world not one, that their cost of production is not even up to $10 per barrel. It is difficult to understand and I dont think it is only National Assembly, even the executive themselves should sit down and ask themselves this question because we are watchdogs.

“Not because we are watchdog that is why we are disturbed but it has got to an extent that they too should be disturbed and there should be a solution and if not there should be an explanation that somebody can understand and agree but common sense cannot understand this.”

Senator Jibrin Issa (APC Kogi East) on his part, also disagreed with the NNPC official over the high cost of oil production by aligning with his other colleagues.

He said: “I am disturbed because I expected the NNPC to dwell more on fixed costs but surprisingly you are talking about administrative cost, security, these are variables and even the fixed cost on the long run are also variables which you can also work on them.”

However, the Minister of State for Finance, Clement Agba intervened by explaining to the committee members that peculiarities cited as reasons for the high cost of oil production were real .

He explained that the North Sea production cost is higher than that of Nigeria and that as an insider, details of the $21.2per barrel oil production is well calculated.

The Committee, however, challenged the NNPC official to be open with their federally funded projects of N484billion, voted for in the revised budget.

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NMA: Nigerians may suffer if governors take over coronavirus management

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The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), has asked President Muhammadu Buhari not to allow states take full control of managing the COVID-19 pandemic saying Nigerians may suffer.

Newsmen recall that Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, said on Sunday in the next phase of the lockdown, states will take more responsibility in their areas.

“I can assure you of one thing: the ownership of the next phase will be the responsibility of the states under national supervision and coordination, because we have gone into community transmission. Where are the communities? The communities are in the states,” the SGF said.

However, speaking on COVID-19 Watch on AIT, on Monday, the NMA president, Innocent Ujah, kicked against the decision, saying if governors are allowed to manage cases, many Nigerians would suffer for it.

“The president should not devolve those powers to the state governments because, apart from Lagos and maybe one or two other states, the commitment is, to say the least, very disappointing. I can say that because I’m a clinician myself,” he said.

“I believe that the president should please not devolve those powers. This is an emergency. Coordination is very important and the coordination should be central, should be from a point, because once you do that, Nigerians will be finished. And we pray that he doesn’t do that.

“There is nothing like local government in Nigeria; I’m sorry. It’s there in the constitution but there is nothing. So, please let’s not do that.

“This is not a political issue; this is a health issue. It cuts across everybody. We know where the commitments are and we will need the president to please prevail on the governors. If we leave it to the governors, our people will suffer; they will die and it doesn’t really matter to many of them.”

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PPPRA: Petrol pump price now N121.50

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The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, has announced a new pump price band of N121.50 to N123.50 per litre for Premium Motor Spirit, also known as petrol.

The PPPRA, which is an agency of the Federal Government, disclosed this in a circular to fuel marketers dated May 31, 2020.

The sharp drop in crude oil prices on the back of the spread of coronavirus saw the landing cost of petrol hitting a record low in March, wiping off subsidy on the product.

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