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Countries start thinking about easing up on restrictions

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Andrew Cuomo
New York Governor


Even as coronavirus deaths mount across Europe and New York, the U.S. and other countries are starting to contemplate an exit strategy and thinking about a staggered and carefully calibrated easing of the restrictions designed to curb the scourge.

“To end the confinement, we’re not going to go from black to white; we’re going to go from black to gray,” top French epidemiologist Jean-François Delfraissy said in a radio interview.

At the same time, politicians and health officials emphatically warn that while deaths, hospitalizations and new infections may be leveling off in places like Italy and Spain, and even New York has seen encouraging signs amid the gloom, the crisis is far from over, and a catastrophic second wave could hit if countries let their guard down too soon.

“We are flattening the curve because we are rigorous about social distancing,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “But it’s not a time to be complacent. It’s not a time to do anything different than we’ve been doing.”

In a sharp reminder of the danger, New York state on Wednesday recorded its highest one-day increase in deaths, 779, for an overall death toll of almost 6,300.

“The bad news is actually terrible,” Cuomo lamented. Still, the governor said that hospitalizations are decreasing and that many of those now dying fell ill in the outbreak’s earlier stages.

In Britain, meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent a second night in intensive care but was improving and sitting up in bed, authorities said.

In China, the lockdown against Wuhan, the industrial city of 11 million where the global pandemic began, was lifted after 76 days, allowing people to come and go. The reopening was seen as a positive sign but also reflected the communist state’s extensive surveillance apparatus and powers of coercion.

Wuhan residents will have to use a smartphone app showing that they are healthy and have not been in recent contact with anyone confirmed to have the virus. Even then, schools remain closed, people are still checked for fever when they enter buildings, and masks are strongly encouraged.

In the U.S., with about 13,000 deaths and 400,000 infections, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was considering changing self-isolation guidelines to make it easier for those exposed to someone with the virus to return to work if they have no symptoms.

New York City: Ravaged by Covid- 19

Under the proposed guidance, aimed at workers in critical fields, such people would be allowed back on the job if they take their temperature twice a day and wear a mask, said a person who was familiar with the draft but was not authorized to discuss it and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-diseases expert, said that the Trump administration has been working on plans to eventually reopen the country and restart the economy amid “glimmers of hope” that social distancing is working to stop the virus’s spread.

“That doesn’t mean we’re going to do it right now,” he said on Fox News. “But it means we need to be prepared to ease into that. And there’s a lot of activity going on.”

The U.S. is seeing hot spots in such places as Washington, D.C., Louisiana, Chicago, Detroit, Colorado and Pennsylvania. The New York metropolitan area, which includes northern New Jersey, Long Island and lower Connecticut, accounts for about half of all virus deaths in the U.S.

In Europe, Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte is expected to announce in the coming days how long the country’s lockdown will remain in place amid expectations that some restrictions could be eased. Discussions are focused first on opening more of the country’s industries.

Proposals being floated in Italy include the issuing of immunity certificates, which would require antibody blood tests, and allowing younger workers to return first, as they show less vulnerability to the virus.

Italy, the hardest-hit country, recorded its biggest one-day jump yet in people counted as recovered and had its smallest one-day increase in deaths in more than a month. Nearly 18,000 have died there.

In Spain, which has tallied more than 14,000 dead, Budget Minister María Jesús Montero said that Spaniards will progressively recover their “normal life” from April 26 onwards but warned that the “de-escalation” of the lockdown will be “very orderly to avoid a return to the contagion.”

The government has been tight-lipped so far about what measures could be in place once the confinement is relaxed, stressing that they will be dictated by experts

Without giving specifics, French authorities have likewise begun to speak openly of planning the end of the country’s confinement period, which is set to expire April 15 but will be extended, according to the president’s office. The virus has claimed more than 10,000 lives in France.

France’s Delfraissy, who leads the scientific council advising the president, said three things are necessary for people to start leaving home regularly: intensive care beds need to be freed up, the spread of the virus must slow, and there have to be multiple tests to see if people are or have been infected and to trace them. He said the French will also need to wear masks in public.

Earlier this week, Austria and the Czech Republic jumped out ahead of other European countries and announced plans to relax some restrictions.

Starting Thursday, the Czech government will allow the reopening of stores selling construction materials, hobby supplies and bicycles. Currently only grocery stores, pharmacies and garden stores are open. The reopened businesses will have to offer customers disinfectant and disposable gloves and enforce social distancing.

Austria will begin reopening small shops, hardware stores and garden centers on Tuesday, and shopping malls and hair salons could follow two weeks later. People will be required to wear face masks.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said authorities will watch carefully and will “pull the emergency brake” if the virus makes a comeback.

British government officials, beset with a rising death toll of more than 7,000, said there is little chance the nationwide lockdown there will be eased when its current period ends next week.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Admitted in hospital for Coronavirus


The European Union expressed privacy concerns about virus-tracking mobile apps that governments are developing or deploying. Such apps use smartphone data to track virus carriers’ movements in order to alert people they may have infected. The EU said the technology raises questions of “fundamental rights and freedoms.”

The desire to get back to normal is driven in part by the damage to world economies.

The Bank of France said the French economy has entered recession, with an estimated 6% drop in the first quarter compared with the previous three months, while Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse, is also facing a deep recession. Expert said its economy will shrink 4.2% this year.

Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, could contract by a record 25% this quarter, the highest since gross domestic product began to be tracked in 1955.

Worldwide, more than 1.4 million people have been confirmed infected and over 80,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. The true numbers are almost certainly much higher, because of limited testing, different rules for counting the dead and concealment by some governments.

For most, the virus causes mild to moderate symptoms such as fever and cough. But for some older adults and the infirm, it can cause pneumonia and death. Over 300,000 people have recovered

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Electoral Ammendment Bill : NASS Succumbs To Buhari

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Removes Direct Primaries Clause

Nigeria Senate on Wednesday removed the clause that makes direct primary mandatory for the election of candidates in political parties from the electoral amendment act.

The Senate in late 2021 passed a version of the bill and transmitted it to President Muhammadu Buhari who declined assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

Buhari said that the mandatory use of direct primaries for all political parties in the country will be too expensive to execute, saying that it will put a financial burden on Nigeria’s slim resources.

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Labour Of Our Heroes Won’t Go In Vain,’ Govs Celebrate Armed Forces Remembrance Day

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Governors across states of the Federation have joined in the celebration of 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day.

The Federal Government had earlier ordered the closure of parts of the roads accessing the arcade of the federal secretariat complexes and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja to mark the event in the Federal Capital Territory.

In the South-West, Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde at the event held on Saturday at the Remembrance Arcade, Government House, Agodi, Ibadan, promised to keep encouraging and working closely with members of the armed forces and the survivors of the fallen heroes

He commended the officers and men of the security agencies for their efforts in battling insecurity in the state, urging them to continue to do their best to ensure that peace reigns in the state and the country at large.

Governor Seyi Makinde

“For Nigerians, some people made sacrifices for us to be where we are right now and also paid the ultimate price.

“So, I believe we should not allow their toil to go in vain,” the governor said.


In Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital, it was a solemn moment as the state governor, Dapo Abiodun joined other dignitaries which include the heads of security agencies, traditional rulers to lay the wreath in remembrance of the Nation’s fallen heroes at the arcade ground in the state capital.

The 21-gun salute was also shot in memory of the fallen heroes and the supreme price they had paid for the unity and peace of the country.

Governor Dapo Abiodun

 

The governor who also inspected the parades and the colour party called on Nigerians to sustain the quest for unity, peace and progress of the country, for socio-economic development and progress.


In the Eastern region, Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi led other members of the state executive council to the event held at the Unity Square in the state capital.

Security Agencies represented at the event include the Nigerian Army; the Nigeria Police Force; the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC); the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA); and the Nigeria Immigration.

Governor David Umahi

The Nigerian Legion Ebonyi State chapter at the event called on both the state and Federal Government to make available enhanced welfare packages as well as provision of job opportunities to the children of servicemen and women who have paid the supreme price defending the country.


Also in Imo State, resident joined their counterparts in other parts of the country to mark the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration.

The event which took place at the Ndubuisi Kanu square in Owerri, the Imo state capital, witnessed match past by the armed forces and security operatives as well as the presence of top government functionaries in Imo State.

Governor Hope Uzodimma

Delivering his speech, Governor Hope Uzodimma asked Nigerians to take the opportunity of the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration to reflect more on the meaning and importance of sacrifice as it affects the interest of the Nation.

He described the military as the noblest and patriotic profession.

In the South-South, Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa represented by his deputy Kingsley Otuaro led top military and para-military officers to lay wreaths at the statue of the unknown soldier.

The event was held at the cenotaph where the governor inspected the guard of honour mounted by the Nigerian Army, Navy, Airforce and members of the Nigerian Legion.

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa

 

A minute silence was observed while a 21-gun salute was taken in honour of the departed heroes.

Some widows of the fallen heroes also used the opportunity to ask the Federal and State Government to look into their plight and provide support for them to be able to fend for themselves and their families.

Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki in his address held in Benin, the state capital said unguarded talks about Nigeria’s unity will cost lives and the efforts of fallen heroes would have been in vain.

Governor Godwin Obaseki

 

He also disclosed plans to include wives of the fallen heroes in the state’s welfare programmes, adding that some of the legionnaires have already been integrated into the security architecture of the state.


In Akwa Ibom State, Governor Udom Emmanuel called on Nigerians to embrace dialogue in resolving thorny issues in the country.

Governor Udom Emmanuel

 

The governor said most of the circumstances that caused bloodshed in the country’s history would have been settled peacefully if the key players embraced dialogue and peaceful resolution of conflicts.

In Kwara State, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq urged Nigerians to continue to provide information to the military in order to end the insecurity in the country while also urging the country to appreciate the sacrifices being made to keep the country together.

He also commended the efforts of the Federal Government in enhancing their welfare.


Meanwhile, Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal appealed to the Federal Government to sustain the payment of pension and gratuity to retired military personnel.

While laying a wreath at the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration in Sokoto, he said this will enable the retired personnel to live well and take care of their needs and it will also serve as an encouragement to the serving personnel to do more in the service of the nation.

He said their services in unquantifiable in ensuring the unity of the nation by laying their lives for the service of the nation.

However, Katsina State Government restated commitment to restore peace and normalcy in the state with several strategies, approaches and mechanisms been introduced by the state to eradicate terrorism in the state.

Governor Aminu Masari during the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration held at the Katsina Peoples’ Square said the relative peace currently being enjoined in the state is due to the dedication, competence and discipline of the troops and other sister security agencies.

He commended the army for the untiring sacrifice towards securing the lives and property of Katsina citizens.


In Niger State, Governor Abubakar Bello said the security agencies should remain resolute to end the security challenges in the country.

Bello disclosed this at the 2022 Nigeria Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration held at the Permanent Cenotaph, Minna.

He also commended the efforts of the Federal Government in enhancing their welfare.


Meanwhile, Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal appealed to the Federal Government to sustain the payment of pension and gratuity to retired military personnel.

While laying a wreath at the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration in Sokoto, he said this will enable the retired personnel to live well and take care of their needs and it will also serve as an encouragement to the serving personnel to do more in the service of the nation.

He said their services in unquantifiable in ensuring the unity of the nation by laying their lives for the service of the nation.

However, Katsina State Government restated commitment to restore peace and normalcy in the state with several strategies, approaches and mechanisms been introduced by the state to eradicate terrorism in the state.

Governor Aminu Masari during the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration held at the Katsina Peoples’ Square said the relative peace currently being enjoined in the state is due to the dedication, competence and discipline of the troops and other sister security agencies.

He commended the army for the untiring sacrifice towards securing the lives and property of Katsina citizens.


In Niger State, Governor Abubakar Bello said the security agencies should remain resolute to end the security challenges in the country.

Bello disclosed this at the 2022 Nigeria Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration held at the Permanent Cenotaph, Minna.

He commended the men of Nigeria Armed Forces and other security agencies for protecting the lives of the people especially in dealing with insurgency and criminal elements, urging them not to relent.

The governor urged them to continue to protect the integrity of the nation, promising the support of the state government towards ending the insecurity.

“My call is on the military to remain resolute. Today is a special day where we come to remember our fallen heroes that have lost their lives in wars and in the course of their assignments”, he said.

Highlights of the event were the release of pigeons as a symbol of peace, exchange of pleasantries with the widows of the fallen heroes and members of the legions as well as the inspection of the guard of honour by the Governor.

Taraba State Governor Darius Ishaku in his address urged the Nigeria Army to sustain the momentum against insecurity and ensure that peace reigns across the country.

He said his administration will not relent in supporting the military and other security agencies to ensure that criminal elements are wiped out of the state, as well as avert the recurring herders, farmers clashes and communal crisis.

The governor, who was was represented by his Deputy Haruna Manu assured of prioritising the needs of ex-servicemen and fallen heroes families.

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Former Oyo State Governor, Alao-Akala Passes On

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Otunba Adebayo Christopher Alao-Akala, a former Governor of Oyo State, is dead.

Details of his death are sketchy but sources close to the politician confirmed the tragic incident to SunriseNigeria.

The politician, who had been battling terminal ailment for a while, died in his Ogbomoso country home, on Wednesday morning, according to sources.

A top source in the All Progressives Congress (APC) who confirmed his death to Daily Trust on Wednesday morning, said he died in his room.

“It is true that Oga is dead. He died in the early hours of Wednesday in his room in Ogbomoso. He was full of life last night. In fact, I head he was playing with his children before he went to bed. We are in a mourning mood now,” he said.

Akala was the governor of the state between 2007 and 2011.

Born on June 3, 1950, at Ogbomoso in the Ogbomoso North Local Government Area of Oyo State, Alao-Akala had his elementary school at Osupa Baptist Day School, Ogbomoso before proceeding to Kamina Barracks Middle School, 5th Battalion of Infantry in Tamale, Ghana.

This is the third known death of a prominent Ogbomosho native in a month.

On December 12, 2021, Oba Oladunni Oyewumi, the Soun of Ogbomoso, passed on.

On January 8, 2022, Prof Taibat Danmole, his daughter who was a lecturer at the Lagos State University (LASU), also died.

The deceased, who was a professor of education was married to another university don, Prof. Hakeem Danmole, who is the Dean College of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin

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