Coronavirus cases in Africa could shoot up from thousands now to 10 million within three to six months according to very provisional modelling, a regional World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Thursday. But Michel Yao, head of emergency operations for WHO Africa, said that was a tentative projection which could change and noted worst-case predictions for the Ebola outbreak had not come true because people changed behaviour in time. “This is still to be fine-tuned,” he told a media teleconference. “It’s difficult to make a long-term estimation because the context changes too much and also public health measures when they are fully implemented, they can actually have an impact.” Africa has seen more than 17,000 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 disease and about 900 deaths so far – relatively little compared to some other regions. But there are fears that could balloon and overwhelm shaky health services.
The National Human Rights Commission has accused the Nigerian security forces of killing 18 people in two weeks while enforcing lockdowns imposed to curtail the spread of the new coronavirus in the country. The NHRC, an independent body, said there had been “eight documented incidents of extrajudicial killings leading to 18 deaths” between March 30 and April 13. The killings were carried out by the Nigerian Correctional Service, the police force and army. Responding to the report, a spokesman for the Nigerian Correctional Service said four inmates had died after violence broke out and left a number of prisoners and staff hospitalised. The rights commission report alleged eight deaths. Though, the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigerian Army did not respond calls seeking comment on the NHRC statement as the report notes that most of the violations witnessed during the period arose as a result of excessive or disproportionate use of force, abuse of power, corruption and non-adherence to national and international laws, best practices and rules of engagement. The Lockdowns initially slated to last 14 days were put in place on 30 March in Lagos, Ogun and the country’s capital Abuja. They were extended on Sunday by another 14 days and other states, such as Kano, have also imposed restrictions. Nigerian security forces have a reputation for brutality as at least 1,476 people were killed by state actors in the country over the past year, says the Council on Foreign Relations.
The Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kyari, said the FG has in the past three days paid over ₦200 billion for power supply in the country. Kyari said this after a meeting with the Minister of Power, Sale Mamman; Managing Director, Transmission Company of Nigeria, Usman Mohammed; and Managing Director, Niger Delta Power Holding Company, Chiedu Ugbo; among others. The Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, the umbrella body for Discos, had said the proposed two-month free electricity for customers announced by power distribution companies recently will cost a total of about ₦120 billion. The payment, according to the NNPC boss would adequately help in settling the indebtedness of power generation firms to gas companies. Kyari noted that gas supply for power generation had been increased by the state oil firm, adding that issues around power supply process were being resolved.
Federal and state governments are bothered by some VIPs’ increasing disregard for the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control’s protocol on COVID-19. At its daily media briefing on Thursday, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 said government would shut unaccredited private hospitals secretly treating COVID-19 patients. The Punch reported that most of the individuals with COVID-19 symptoms, who patronised private hospitals, contrary to government’s directive, were prominent persons. Among others, the NCDC’s protocol on COVID-19 requires anybody that comes from countries with a high burden of the virus to be in isolation for 14 days. If such individuals show symptoms of the virus, they are not expected to seek treatment at unaccredited hospitals, but contact the NCDC. Unaccredited hospitals who get such patients are required to refer them to health facilities approved for treating COVID-19. A prominent accountant and auditor, who returned from the UK, died of COVID-19-related complications at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital earlier this month. A few days ago, a former ambassador, who was the first COVID-19 case in Kano State, allegedly violated the NCDC’s directive on self-isolation after coming abroad.