South Africa’s acting health minister said the Delta coronavirus variant is dominant in the country, fueling a third wave of infections that may prompt the government to tighten lockdown restrictions further.
The current resurgence of the disease could be worse than the second wave after studies discovered the prevalence of the new strain first detected in India, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said in an online news conference on Saturday. The new variant is driving infections in South Africa’s commercial hub of Gauteng, she said.
“We have a new variant that is prevalent in the country,” Kubayi-Ngubane said. “This new variant is called Delta.”
The Delta variant that’s been running rampant in South Africa is 30% to 60% more transmissible than other strains, including the Beta variant, first identified in the African nation last year, Richard Lessells, an infectious diseases specialist at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, said at the same briefing.
“Preliminary estimates from genomic data and epidemiological studies suggest Delta may be significantly more transmissible than other variants of concern, including Beta,” Lessells said.
The strict lockdown measures initially imposed in South Africa helped it get through its first two waves of the coronavirus without major hospitals having to turn people away. But a slow vaccination rollout means only about 4% of the population has had any shots, just as the arrival of mid-winter leads more people to gather indoors.
The rise in infections means the government need to urgently consider tightening lockdown restrictions including on movement of people, according to Koleka Mlisana, the head of the ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19.
“We are going to make sure that we get onto hard restrictions, tighter restrictions because obviously what actually increases transmissions is person-to-person” contact, Mlisana said. “It’s going to mean we need to be very decisive.”
The government is weighing recommendations from the ministry and health experts on how to curb the spread of the virus, with current restrictions in Gauteng possibly deemed insufficient, Kubayi-Ngubane said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the country on Sunday evening on his planned response to curb the spread of the virus after a special cabinet meeting, the government said.
Npower Update: Npower Beneficiaries Protest Unpaid Allowances in Abuja
Some beneficiaries of the Npower scheme went to the Public Service Institute in Kubwa, Abuja in order to stage a protest over the refusal of the management of the scheme to pay their outstanding allowances.
The protesters made demands for the payment of their outstanding stipends, which are supposed to be for three months and also spoke against the lack of payment of their feeding allowances by the scheme.
Each beneficiary of the Npower programme is supposed to be paid an amount of N42,000 as a feeding allowance while also receiving an amount of N10,000 as a stipend for the same period.
One of the protesters, Michael Bright, said in an interview that the beneficiaries have not been paid their feeding allowance for December, a situation which he said has made many of them hungry and sick in this period.
Bright went ahead to say that the beneficiaries were being treated as slaves, and it was looking like the government deliberately brought them to the Npower camp only to refuse the necessary items for survival.
Bright said that the beneficiaries had been enduring hunger but had finally reached their limits, which is what led to the protest which they hoped would spark urgent action.
It was discovered that activities at the Public Service Institute were disrupted on Monday as the Npower beneficiaries demonstrated to make their grievances known.
In spite of the assurances made by an official who promised that their allowances would be paid before the week runs out, the protesting beneficiaries decided to abandon all lecture rooms at the institute until the matter is finally resolved.
The camp at the Public Service Institute in Kubwa houses beneficiaries of Npower’s Batch C1 from states in the North-Central region of the country. The set occupying the camp presently resumed on November 3 and are expected to leave the camp on December 20.
It was however reported that the beneficiaries had not received any information on what would happen after they vacate the camp.
Npower Payment: Update on Npower Stipend as at December 6 2021
The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs has gone ahead to provide an update concerning its monitoring of all National Social Investment Programs (NSIP) activities. A training was held on the 26th of November, 2021 with different groups being deployed to examine the program’s activities. These teams are expected to examine the activities of all NSIPs across the country.
As a result of this strategy of monitoring the NSIPs, beneficiaries of the Npower Batch C are admonished to be punctual to their places of primary assignment. Those who don’t visit their places of primary assignment as they are expected to do have also been advised to “step up” and do the needful thing.
It was also announced that volunteers who have exited the Npower scheme are eligible to earn N200,000 on a monthly basis. The money can be earned by teaching for Edukoya, a free learning app that focuses on secondary school.
Also, the National Social Investment Management System (NASIMS), which is responsible for managing the Npower programme has implored the Batch C volunteers to ignore any calls where their ATM numbers are being requested for.
In a Facebook post dated December 4, NASIMS reiterated that ATM details are sensitive details that are peculiar to individuals and should be treated with the utmost confidentiality. NASIMS stated that any such calls are from fraudsters and shouldn’t be considered as official calls coming from the Npower scheme.
The management system also stated that in the course of the call, the fraudsters may ask questions related to the payment of the outstanding September stipend to beneficiaries.
The Npower scheme has lately been heavily criticized for its failure to pay stipends to its volunteers, from September 2021. It recently announced that the September stipend payment has commenced, although it has not circulated to all the beneficiaries yet. However, both those who have been paid and those who have not been paid the September stipend are still expressing displeasure at the situation, asking for payment for the remaining outstanding months.
Emirates Lands In Nigeria In Style
Emirates has today touched down in both Abuja and Lagos, marking the restart of daily services to Nigeria from Dubai. It received a spectacular water canon welcome at Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos.
Both flights from Dubai, EK 785 to Abuja and EK 783 to Lagos, were welcomed to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport and Murtala Muhammed International Airport with water cannon salutes. Upon arrival, a cake cutting ceremony was also held between Emirates officials and the airport authorities to mark the resumption of operations.
Paulos Legesse, Country Manager Nigeria said: “We are delighted to resume operations to and from Nigeria, and are pleased to see strong interest from our customers, reflected in robust forward bookings from the time of our announcement, as well as today’s full flights from Dubai to Abuja and Lagos. The services will also give our customers the opportunity once again to safely experience Emirates’ superior product and service, offering them convenient travel options to Dubai, an already popular destination for Nigerian travellers, as well as seamless connectivity other key cities across our network.”
The aircraft being deployed to both Nigerian cities is the three class Boeing 777-300ER which offers 8 luxurious First Class suites, 42 generous Business Class seats, and over 300 seats in Economy Class.
Customers across all classes were able to enjoy the airline’s regional delicacies onboard, as well as its renowned in-flight entertainment system, ice, featuring over 4,500 channels of on-demand entertainment, including Nollywood films and content.
Emirates operates to Abuja with EK 785 and 786. EK 785 departs Dubai at 1100hrs, arriving in Abuja at 1540hrs. The return flight, EK 786 takes off from Abuja at 1900, arriving in Dubai at 0435hrs the next day. Emirates flight EK 783 to Lagos departs Dubai at 1030hrs, arriving in Lagos at 1540hrs. The return flight EK 784 departs Lagos at 1810hrs, arriving in Dubai at 0415hrs the next day.
Travelling to Dubai: Ensuring the safety of travellers, visitors, and the community, Covid-19 PCR tests are mandatory for all inbound passengers arriving to Dubai, including UAE citizens, residents and tourists, irrespective of the country they are coming from. Travellers coming from Nigeria must hold a negative Covid-19 PCR test certificate for a test taken no more than 72 hours before departure.
Additionally, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has specified designated laboratories for passengers departing Nigeria and travellers must obtain their certificate from one of the labs listed here to be accepted on the flight. Travellers coming from Nigeria will also need to take another Covid-19 PCR test on arrival at Dubai International Airport.
Since it safely resumed tourism activity in July 2020, Dubai remains one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations, especially during the winter season. The city is open for international business and leisure visitors. From sun-soaked beaches and heritage activities to world class hospitality and leisure facilities,
Dubai offers a variety of world-class experiences. It was one of the world’s first cities to obtain Safe Travels stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) – which endorses Dubai’s comprehensive and effective measures to ensure guest health and safety.
Dubai is currently hosting the world for Expo 2020, happening between October 2021 and March 2022. Through the theme of Connecting Minds, Creating the Future, Expo 2020 Dubai aims to inspire people by showcasing the best examples of collaboration, innovation and cooperation from around the world.
Its programme is packed with experiences to suit all ages and interests, including a rich line-up of themed weeks, entertainment, and edutainment. Art and culture fans as well as food and technology enthusiasts can explore exhibits, workshops, performances, live shows and more.
Emirates continues to lead the industry with innovative products and services and recently took its customer care initiatives further with even more flexible booking policies which have been extended to 31 May 2022.
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