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Covid-19: Five Ways to Avoid Catching the Virus Indoors

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By David Shukman
BBC News science editor

Good ventilation could be the key to avoiding coronavirus as winter approaches and people spend more time indoors.

For months we’ve been told to wash our hands and maintain social distancing to beat coronavirus.

But scientists and engineers say we also need to think about the air we breathe inside buildings.

Good ventilation matters in five ways.

1: If it’s stuffy, walk away

When you walk into a room and the air feels stale, something is wrong with the ventilation.

Not enough fresh air is being introduced, which increases your chances of getting infected by coronavirus.

Recent research shows that in confined spaces there can be “airborne transmission” of the virus – with tiny virus particles lingering in the air.

According to workplace regulations set up before the pandemic, everyone should get 10 litres of fresh air every second, and that matters more than ever now.

So if a place seems stuffy, just turn around and leave, says Dr Hywel Davies, technical director of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers.

He says that it’s vital to have a flow of clean air:

“If you’ve got someone who’s infected in a building, and you’re bringing in plenty of outside air, you’re diluting whatever infectious material they’re giving off. You’re reducing the risk of other people becoming infected.”

2: Look up at the air conditioning

From offices to shops, air conditioning is welcome on hot days – but check the type of unit.

The simplest is a slender white box mounted on walls or ceilings, known as a split air conditioner.

This draws in air from a room, chills it and then blows it back out again.
Split air conditionerimage copyrightAlamy
image captionA split air conditioner

In other words, it’s recirculating the air.

This is no problem for a quick visit but may be a risk over a period of hours.

A study of a restaurant in China blamed this type of air conditioner for spreading the virus.

One customer was “pre-symptomatic” – in other words, he was infected but did not realise because he had yet to develop symptoms.

Scientists reckon he released the virus as he breathed and talked, and it was pushed around the room by swirling air currents from the units on the wall.

The result was that nine other people became infected.

Dr Davies points again to the importance of fresh air:

“If there had been a good supply of outside air, very likely fewer people would have become infected – if any.”

3: Ask about the ‘fresh air ratio’

In a modern building where the windows are sealed, how can you get enough fresh air?

You’re relying on a ventilation system in which stale air is extracted from the rooms and piped to an air handling unit, often on the roof.
A rooftop air conditioning unitimage copyrightGetty Images
image captionA rooftop air conditioning unit

There, fresh air can be pulled in from outside and mixed with the old inside air, before being sent back into the building.

Given the risk of coronavirus infection, the professional advice is to maximise the fresh supply.

“Having 100% outside air or close to 100% is a good thing,” says Prof Cath Noakes of the University of Leeds and chair of the environmental panel of the government’s SAGE advisers, speaking in a personal capacity.

“The more fresh air, the less you’re running the risk of recirculating the virus through the building.”

The precise mix is decided by the building’s managers, who may be working for the owners or the tenants. .

The drawback to running 100% fresh air is the cost – the incoming air has to be heated in winter and cooled in summer, all of which requires energy.

4: Get the office management to check if there’s virus in the filters

A modern ventilation system will have filters but these are not fool-proof.

In the US, researchers investigating the Oregon Health & Science University Hospital found that traces of coronavirus were trapped by the filters but some had somehow slipped through.

Prof Kevin van den Wymelenberg, who led the project, believes that swabbing the filters could reveal if there’s someone infected working in a building.

In South Korea, a call centre on the 11th floor of an office building saw one person infect more than 90 others.

If the filters had been checked more frequently, the presence of the virus might have been spotted sooner.

Prof van den Wymelenberg says data from filters can “show us where to punch and when to punch” in tackling infections.

5: Watch out for draughts

Talk to any expert in the field and they will say that fresh air is the key.

But one specialist in modelling the movement of air says it’s not that simple.

Nick Wirth used to design Formula 1 racing cars, and now advises supermarkets and food-processing companies on how to manage air flow to keep people safe.
Office worker looking through windowimage copyrightGetty Images

He worries that if someone sitting beside an open window turns out to be infectious, they could shed virus to others downwind.

“If you open a window, where is the air going to go?” he asks. “We don’t want people in a direct line of that airflow.

“More fresh air in general is better but if it’s flowing horizontally and full of virus it could have unintended consequences.”

I put this scenario to Prof Cath Noakes.

She says the benefits of plentiful fresh air diluting the virus will outweigh any risks.

An open window might lead to more people receiving the virus but in smaller, less risky amounts, in her view.

It’s no surprise there are disagreements – there’s a lot we still don’t know about the virus.

But the air we breathe is bound to be part of any effort to make buildings safer.
(BBC news)

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Crime

Marwa Warns Against Cannabis Legalisation

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Says “It is money versus life”

 

President Muhammadu Buhari (right) with the Chairman of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Mohammed Buba Marwa at the State House, Abuja, during a visit by Marwa to brief him on the activities of the agency (photo by The Guardian)

Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd), has enjoined members of the National Assembly not to support to move to legalise cannabis, cautioning that members who vote for it might not be able to return to their constituencies.Marwa made the submission yesterday while fielding questions from newsmen after he met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja.

The former military administrator of Lagos said the World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed the dangers of cannabis to the brain, disclosing that Nigeria was the highest consumer of the substance globally.

Vowing that Nigeria would not submit to the push for its legalisation, Marwa said: “Now, the WHO itself has declared that cannabis affects the brain, alters brain function. It destabilises and affects behaviour. It also affects body organs, and at some point, it can lead to death.

“So, while we appreciate those who want to legalise it for financial gains, we have to be careful to reconcile it with life. So, it’s money versus life. And up to this point, science has not developed up to the point where it can remove the THC in cannabis to zero.

“Therefore, cannabis is harmful to our health; it is a danger to society. We must never allow its legalisation. What’s more, Nigeria has 10.6 million cannabis users; this is the highest in the world. Isn’t it sad?

“We should be the highest in science, technology, mathematics, physics and not highest in cannabis. That is something we need.

“We can never support legalisation and I don’t see how the National Assembly would pass the bill because I know 90 per cent or more of the honourable and distinguished members of the National Assembly know the implications of this legalisation. They dare not go back to their constituencies if anyone signs legalisation because we are seeing the implication on the ground. The youth, the families are being destroyed because of cannabis and drugs. It wouldn’t be legalised by the grace of God.”

Marwa, who revealed that he has received constant death threats from criminals in the course of his assignment, said he was not concerned even though he takes precautions.

Specifically, on the threats, he quipped: “Severally! It’s almost a daily occurrence because my phone number is open. Equally, messages come through family, through colleagues, and sometimes people at random whom we don’t know but I live in the territory. That said, we also take precautions.”

The NDLEA boss said he was at that presidential villa to brief President Buhari on the recent activities of the agency, especially the move to construct barracks for personnel of the agency, saying he received a positive response from the president on the initiative.

“Well, the President told us well done. And that well done does not go to Gen. Marwa but the NDLEA officers and men. And if there’s a secret behind it, we thank the Almighty God for the successes recorded so far, and also to the gallant and professional officers and men of the NDLEA who have remained upstanding.”

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Court freezes Kogi State Govt’s Bank Account over N20billion Salary Loan Fraud

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Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State

 

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday froze a Kogi salary bailout account domiciled in a new generation bank over a N20 billion loan obtained from the bank.

Justice Tijjani Garba Ringim made the order pending the conclusion of an investigation or possible prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The agency approached the court via an ex-parte application brought pursuant to Section 44(2) of the Constitution and Section 34(1) of the EFCC Act.

Its counsel, Mr A. O. Muhammed, informed the court that the order was necessary to preserve the res and abate further dissipation of the funds in the account.

Moving the application, Muhammed alleged that the N20b loan was meant to augment the salary payment and running cost of the state government but was kept in an interest yielding account with the bank.

He added that instead of using the money for the purpose it was meant for, the Kogi State Government instructed the bank to transfer the money from the loan account and place same in a fixed deposit account.

According to the agency, the bank is yet to present any credible evidence to show that the facility is well secured.

Granting the application, Justice Ringim ordered the EFCC to publish the order in a national newspaper and make a quarterly report to the court on the progress of its investigation.

The judge adjourned the matter till December 1, for the report of Investigation.

The EFCC’s allegations were made in its 13-paragraph affidavit in support of the ex-parte motion deposed to by a member of a team of investigators attached to the Chairman Monitoring Unit Lagos of the EFCC.

The document averred that the Commission received credible and direct intelligence which led to the tracing of funds reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities warehoused in the account with the name Kogi State Salary Bailout Account

He said the Commission acted on the said intelligence and assigned same to the Chairman Monitoring Unit, where it was discovered that on April 1, 2019, the management approved an offer of an N20billion bailout loan facility for the Kogi State Government.

According to the deponent, on June 19, 2019, fiscal year, the Kogi State Government, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Office of the Commissioner, applied for a credit facility of N20billion with an interest rate of nine per cent for a tenure of 240 months from the bank”.

The agency added that the said facility was meant to augment the salary payment and running cost of the state government.

It stated further that on June 26, 2019, the credit facility offer was accepted vide a memorandum of acceptance signed by Governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello, Asiwaju Idris Asiru, the Commissioner of Finance Kogi State; and one Alhaji Momoh Jibrin, Accountant General, Kogi State.

It averred that before the said application for a loan, the Kogi State Government on the 19th June 2019 vide a letter to the Manager of the bank in Lokoja applied for an account opening in the Bank with the name Kogi State Salary Bailout Account with Alhaji Momoh Jubril, Accountant General of the State and Elijah Evinemi Ag. Director Treasury as the signatories to the said account.

“That upon the opening of the said account disbursed salary intervention loan to the tune of N20billion to the account.

“That rather than use the intervention funds for the purpose for which it was granted, the State Government proceeded to open a fixed deposit account No. 0073572696.

“That on the 25 day of July 2019, the bank acting on the instruction of the Kogi State Government transferred the money from the loan account and placed same on the aforementioned fixed deposit account.

“That the said account sought to be frozen received the sum of twenty billion naira, (N20, 000,000,000) on the 25th July 2019.

“That as of 1st day of April 2021 the balance standing to the credit of the said fixed deposit account was N19,333,333,333.36 billion

“That we are still tracing what the sum of N666,666,666.64 billion, has been deducted from the said funds and were not used for the payment of the salary.

“That the Commission has the statutory mandate to prevent the Commission of economic and financial Crimes with the shores of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“That investigation in this matter is still ongoing and this application is pertinent to secure the funds in the said account to prevent them from being totally dissipated.

“That without freezing the nominated accounts, there is no better way of preserving

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