The World Health Organisation (WHO) has designated the new COVID variant B.1.1.529, Omicron on Friday.
The organisation disclosed in a statement published on its website after its officials assessed data received from South Africa earlier today.
It said “The B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa on 24 November 2021. The epidemiological situation in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the Delta variant. In recent weeks, infections have increased steeply, coinciding with the detection of B.1.1.529 variant. The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on 9 November 2021.”
“This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa. Current SARS-CoV-2 PCR diagnostics continue to detect this variant. Several labs have indicated that for one widely used PCR test, one of the three target genes is not detected (called S gene dropout or S gene target failure) and this test can therefore be used as marker for this variant, pending sequencing confirmation. Using this approach, this variant has been detected at faster rates than previous surges in infection, suggesting that this variant may have a growth advantage.”
Therefore, countries are asked to do the following:
- enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts to better understand circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants.
- submit complete genome sequences and associated metadata to a publicly available database, such as GISAID.
- report initial cases/clusters associated with VOC infection to WHO through the IHR mechanism.
- where capacity exists and in coordination with the international community, perform field investigations and laboratory assessments to improve understanding of the potential impacts of the VOC on COVID-19 epidemiology, severity, effectiveness of public health and social measures, diagnostic methods, immune responses, antibody neutralization, or other relevant characteristics.
WHO said its independent Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) will continue to evaluate this variant and communicate new findings to member states.
On Friday, Belgium reported a case of Omicron variant covid in a traveler from Egypt while Hong Kong reported two cases.
The United Kingdom, US, Israel and others have imposed restrictions on flights from South Africa and other six nations to curb Omicron outbreak in the nations.
Amazon Prime Video Launches Local Service in Nigeria
Amazon Prime Video launches a localized version of its streaming service in one of Africa’s largest markets, Nigeria.
After its Launch in Southeast Asia a few days back, Amazon Prime video revealed the launch of the localized version of its streaming service in one of Africa’s largest markets, Nigeria.
Amazon Prime Video is a global streaming subscription service with 200 million subscribers worldwide and accessible in over 100 countries.
Amazon Prime Video has now expanded its service to Nigeria in a move that pitches it against Netflix, the world’s biggest streaming company with a sizeable audience in Nigeria.
However, to compete effectively, Amazon Prime Video launched discounted Amazon prime membership, seven days of free streaming service and increase investment in local content production for Nigerian audiences.
In a tweet from its official account @Prime Video Naija, the company said customers in Nigeria can stream more than 20,000 original TV shows and movies within its ecosystem. Some of the movies are The Boys, All or Nothing, Reacher and All the Old Knives.
According to its website, the service will cost ₦2,300 or $4 per month. Also for the first time, users in Nigeria will be able to pay for subscriptions using the local currency, the Nigerian Naira.
Again, unlike when most used VPN to access the platform for region-specific content, now Nigerians can watch movies directly without a VPN.
Nigerians, however, have reservations concerning Amazon Prime Video pricing model. According to Nigerians that took to Twitter, they will stick to Netflix – Amazon Prime Video’s biggest competitor in Nigeria – as they cannot be paying for a monthly subscription and still be paying to rent or watch movies. Read their comments below.
@lamibony Tweeted “can never replace Netflix because they are unserious. Why do I have to purchase some movies even though I have a valid subscription? Nah, abeg they should get out.”
She further stated that “Abeg I will stick with Netflix. Make them increase subscription instead of asking me to buy movies like groceries”
@abelpter had the similar reservation “I hate the fact that after paying the monthly subscription, you still need to pay money to buy or rent some other movies you’d like to watch on the App. It doesn’t make sense”
@tHe_pHenom_ tweeted “hope your payment platform won’t keep declining all my cards like spotify and Apple Music”
@oluwahunter tweeted “Please why is it difficult to add my card details?”
A Sad Goodbye: Serena Williams Bids Tennis Farewell
Serena Williams, the world’s most successful female athlete, has said she is “evolving away” from the sport she dominated for years.
Serena Williams, the world’s most successful female athlete, has said she is “evolving away” from the sport she dominated for years.
The 23 grand slam winner first hinted about her retirement on her Instagram page, saying the countdown has begun to retire from tennis and focus on being a mum, expand her spiritual goals and focus on self-discovery.
“But now the countdown has begun. I’m gonna relish these next few weeks” she said.
In her latest interview with Vogue, Williams expresses her struggle over making the decision to retire from the sport, she said “I’ve been reluctant to admit to myself or anyone else that I have to move on from playing tennis. Alexis, my husband, and I have hardly talked about it; it’s like a taboo topic. I can’t even have this conversation with my mom and dad. It’s like it’s not real until you say it out loud. It comes up, I get an uncomfortable lump in my throat, and I start to cry. The only person I’ve gone there with is my therapist! One thing I’m not going to do is sugarcoat this. I know that a lot of people are excited about and look forward to retiring, and I wish I felt that way. “
Williams made her singles return at Wimbledon in June after a lengthy injury lay-off that had led to speculation about her retirement.
She says she will play at the US Open, where she has won six of her major singles titles, later in August.
Williams has won more major singles titles than any female player in the Open era and the second most of all time, behind Margaret Court’s 24.
On Monday, she had her first singles win in 14 months, beating Spain’s Nuria Parrizas Diaz to reach the second round of the National Bank Open in Toronto.
“I’m terrible at goodbyes, the world’s worst. But please know that I am more grateful for you than I can ever express in words.”
CBA Foundation Takes Intervention Among Underprivileged Widows to the Next Level, With Their Social Enterprise Initiative
If indications from two separate but related events that were held few months ago are anything to go by, then one of Nigeria’s most vulnerable groups may be on the verge of experiencing better times.
If indications from two separate but related events that were held few months ago are anything to go by, then one of Nigeria’s most vulnerable groups may be on the verge of experiencing better times. The events, hosted in two separate states/regions and split by a 20-day interval, held at a time when self-splurging by many young Nigerians was at octane levels, and saw young men and women behind an NGO that caters to the welfare of underprivileged widows and their vulnerable children, passionately putting the widows’ needs above their wants.
The NGO, CBA Foundation, its dedicated and passionate staff, some supporters and donors came out in their numbers on two dedicated days to give widows in selected communities in Lagos and Anambra a treat. The Lagos outreach benefitted, in a unique way, widows in six communities in Ibeju-Lekki, namely: Badore, Iberekodo, Museyo, Magbon Alade, Okunola Ilado and Magbon Iga.
CBA Foundation seized the opportunity of the outreach to launch a new initiative it tagged Social Enterprise Initiative. The Initiative, which is aimed at ensuring the long-term sustainability of all efforts to protect and promote the welfare of widows as well as their children, is to cater to the financial, mental and physical health needs of beneficiaries. The Initiative is designed to provide comprehensive support, including health interventions, skill acquisition, business set-up, food and drinks, clothes and shoes.It also includes general support for all affected widows.
The Founder/CEO of CBA Foundation, Mrs Chinwe Bode-Akinwande explained the reason for the Foundation’s shift to the new Initiative: “We have been doing outreaches and it has been non-stop, but the essence of this Social Enterprise Initiative is for the widows to have something that will sustain them even for a longer period, something that will give them hope, knowing that they have a sustainable source of livelihood and activities that remind them that they need to keep going.”
Continuing, she reveals when the idea for the new initiative began: “When the lockdown came during the peak of covid 19, we realised that there was a need again to have something sustainable for these women. With the Social Enterprise Initiative, we identify the skills they need to possess, and what they are passionate about, we also empower them with the necessary training and then set them up with all they need for the business. At the end of the day, they won’t have to wait daily for the CBA Foundation to give them food or clothing.”
Mrs Bode-Akinwande noted that the Initiative had been informed by a rigorous analysis of the data in their database, gathered over the years on widows whom they have reached out to and the support they have been receiving from both individual and corporate donors. She said that they had dimensioned all the critical issues from widows with critical needs, where the Foundation needed to begin its interventions, to widows who needed to be set up in business and to several widows’ children who needed to be reinstated back in school.
She also remarked that plans were underway at the Foundation to take the skills acquisition training further, beginning with adire-making (tie and dye). She announced that the Foundation would have a line of products that would be its adire pattern, displaying its unique signature. When sold, the net proceeds would be ploughed back into the Foundation as a constant stream of income.
The idea, the Foundation’s CEO stressed, would inspire the widows who show a keen interest in adire-making as they would be involved and exposed to its value chain which is essential to optimising their execution after their training. So, the adire-making training followed with tutorials on the step-by-step processes involved in it, materials needed and how to identify them, necessary safety precautions, various tie and dye techniques, packaging and distribution and how to make a living from adire-making.
For widows with impaired vision at the event, they were able to have free consultations with an ophthalmologist, get free eye tests and free reading glasses, courtesy of a partnership between FirstBank and Vision Spring. What followed when beneficiaries had the free reading glasses fitted and could see clearly were scenes similar to ones where people had experienced supernatural miracles. The ecstatic joy was palpable.
Take 59-year-old Hassanat Oyewunmi, for example. Tears of joy rolled freely from her eyes as she remarked that her farsightedness challenge had been addressed. She confessed excitedly that she felt “better, much better now with the glasses, and I can even see everyone clearly. It is good to know that we are not forgotten.”
Olabode Sadiat, 62, could not contain her joy as she wore her glasses and pointed in the distance, while indicating that she could see everything in her line of sight. She had suffered from a blurry vision that made reading her Bible difficult. “Nothing is more painful than not being able to read your Bible,” she had noted following the medical intervention.
The widows also received food, drinks, clothing and other materials that were distributed during the outreach. They were also given a final charge by Mrs Bode-Akinwande in which she reminded them that they were not alone and could always count on the support of the CBA Foundation.
In all, 165 widows across the six communities of Ibeju-Lekki benefitted when the Lagos outreach was held. The Anambra outreach, on the other hand, benefitted 75 widows from four communities in the Nnewi area of the state.
Food items and financial empowerment constituted the bulk of the support CBA Foundation gave the Anambra widows to celebrate the festive season. The Anambra initiative has enjoyed tremendous support from a donor who has been consistent over the past four years. The Founder of the Foundation expressed gratitude to the donor while remarking that the outreach is a source of enablement for the underprivileged widows and their children.
She continues: “We give hope to the hopeless. We are driven to support underprivileged widows to have a positive outlook on life despite the problems they experience by losing their loved one, mostly the breadwinner of the family.”
Both Lagos and Anambra outreaches were in some sense CBA Foundation’s way of giving underprivileged widows a “December to Remember” treat annually. Of course, that treat would at best be modest compared to how people who were not in any known vulnerable categories took care of themselves and themselves alone. Even with the best of intentions, CBA Foundation could only work with donations received from donors and supporters at a time of the year when most (young) people were dedicating more resources to the self-splurging that December has come to represent.
While it may not be in one’s place to dictate to others how they should spend the money they have worked so hard to make, one cannot help but try to point them to ways they could better dispense their hard-earned cash that would be in their enlightened self-interest. Or what sense is there in spending on oneself so lavishly and ostentatiously as though spending was going to go out of fashion at any moment only to provoke the have-nots to make one the target of their misdirected anger in a society that is largely dysfunctional?
A similar question should be addressed to the government and public officials: What sense is there in expending huge public resources on projects that have no direct bearing on the welfare of vulnerable groups when it only widens the gap between the haves (including public officials) and have-nots and exacerbates the conditions that heighten security concerns among the haves? At what point will the government, public officials and the privileged class start acting in their enlightened self-interest by committing genuine efforts to narrow the gap between those who have and those who can only wish?
It is high time public officials and the privileged began building strong coalitions and partnerships with groups and organisations that have been working to protect and support as well as advocate for the vulnerable for years now. They must begin to key into and support the organisations’ laudable initiatives that show great potential in helping to narrow the frightening gap.
CBA Foundation’s Social Enterprise Initiative represents one of such laudable initiatives. It is a well-thought-out initiative capable of transforming the existing arrangement for care and support of vulnerable groups such as underprivileged widows and their children and taking their welfare to the next level. The Government, individuals as well as corporate organisations must join hands with the Foundation if the Initiative is to have any chance of success.
Through its avowed commitment to “touching lives, giving hope…” not in mere words and empty promises but genuine and visible action on the ground (see ample examples captured on its website: www.cbafoundation.org), CBA Foundation has already demonstrated its readiness to do more with additional support. It has shown that it is living true to its #CareIsAction DNA and can thus be trusted with more support. The Social Enterprise Initiative, therefore, will be delighted to have interested partners (individuals and corporate bodies) to send an email to: email@example.com to partner with the Foundation in the drive to take the welfare of underprivileged widows to the next level where its long-term sustainability is guaranteed.
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