World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General, Dr Tedos Ghebreyesus, says smokers have up to a 50 per cent higher risk of developing severe diseases and death from COVID-19.
Ghebreyesus said this in a message to commemorate World No Tobacco Day, globally marked on May 31 annually, to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocate effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.
According to him, quitting is best thing smokers can do to lower their risk from coronavirus as well as the risk of developing cancers, heart disease and respiratory illnesses.
“We urge all countries to play their part by joining the WHO campaign and creating tobacco-free environments that give people the information, support and tools they need to quit, and quit for good.”
The director-general announced that WHO was taking advantage of digital tools to help tobacco users and had released the Quit Challenge chatbot and the Artificial Intelligence digital health worker Florence.
“The Quit Challenge gives daily notifications of tips and encouragement for up to six months to help people remain tobacco-free. It is available for free on WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger and WeChat,” he said.
According to him, the agency also released a “quitting toolkit” which includes these innovations, but also existing services such as brief advice from health professionals and national toll-free quitlines.
Globally, he stated roughly 39 per cent of men and nine per cent of women use tobacco; the highest tobacco use rates among men are currently found in the Western Pacific region at 49 per cent and among women in Europe at 19 per cent.
“As part of the “Commit to Quit” initiative, WHO calls for the adoption of bold policies that promote tobacco cessation; increasing access to smoking cessation services; raising awareness of the tobacco industry’s tactics; and support for consumers trying to stay away from tobacco.
“Currently, 29 countries are working with the agency to support tobacco cessation through national awareness campaigns and new digital tools,” he said.
He added that the efforts included policy review, training of health workers, opening of specialised clinics, support for nicotine replacement therapies, and courses to quit smoking.
According to the UN health agency, the report that smokers are more likely to develop severe disease with COVID-19 compared to non-smokers triggered millions of people to want to quit tobacco.
But it said without adequate support, quitting could be incredibly challenging.
On World No Tobacco Day 2021, the agency reminded that the nicotine found in tobacco was highly addictive and created dependence.
It stated that this led to behavioural and emotional ties to tobacco use like having a cigarette with coffee, craving tobacco, and feelings of sadness or stress – making it hard to kick the habit.
However, with professional support and cessation services, tobacco users double their chances of quitting successfully.
Currently, over 70 per cent of the 1.3 billion tobacco users worldwide lack access to the tools they need, and the gap in access to cessation services was further exacerbated in the last year as the health workforce was mobilized to handle the pandemic.
COVID-19 Quarantine: 18% in-bound passengers not traceable — Sanwo-Olu
By Gistflash News
July 12, 2021
Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, says 18 per cent of passengers that arrived Lagos through Murtala Mohammed Airport cannot be traced for COVID-19 quarantine.
Sanwo-Olu made this known on Sunday in the update of the coronavirus pandemic situation in Lagos State.
He said that between May 8, 2021 and July 7, 2021, a total of 50,322 passengers of interest arrived in Lagos via the Murtala Mohammed Airport.
”Of the 50,322 passengers, 18 per cent could not be reached by EKOTELEMED because of the provision of either wrong numbers or wrong Nigerian contact details to be reached on,” the Chief Incident Commander said.
He said that it was the responsibility of passengers to ensure they provided the right details for them to be reached for proper monitoring.
”Going forward, passengers that do not provide the right details, including a phone number they can be reached for monitoring and an address for isolation, will face serious sanctions, including fines and imprisonment according to our Lagos State Coronavirus Law of 2021.
”As dictated by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 (PSC), passengers from red-listed countries (India, South Africa, Brazil and Turkey) are required to observe mandatory isolation.
”So far, we have successfully isolated 2,386 passengers in Lagos State. Of this number, 15 per cent have absconded,” Sanwo-Olu said.
He said that sanctions were being recommended and had already been meted out to defaulters.
The governor said that the sanctions for foreigners were revocation of their Permanent Residency and deportation; while for Nigerians were prosecution to the full extent of the Lagos State COVID-19 Law.
He also said that greater vigilance was required at this time in the churches and mosques and other places of religious worship.
Sanwo-Olu said that the state was pleased that religious houses were now open for worship, after the lengthy closures of 2020, however, worshippers must not be carried away by the illusion that all was now back to normal.
”This is especially critical, as Sallah approaches, in a little over a week from now.
”The festivities will no doubt bring people together in large numbers and create conditions that can sadly cause the spread of the coronavirus. We must not allow this to happen.
”For this reason, we are mandating full compliance with all protective protocols.
”There must be compulsory use of masks in all public places, social distancing, temperature checks, provisions for hand-washing and sanitisers, and a maximum of 50 per cent occupancy in enclosed spaces,” he said.
COVID-19 taskforce uncovers Delta variant in Oyo State
By Gistflash News
July 12, 2021
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control on July 8 confirmed the index case of the deadly Delta variant in Nigeria.
NCDC confirms deadly Delta variant of COVID-19 in Nigeria
By Gistflash News
July 9, 2021
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has detected a confirmed case of the SARS-CoV-2, known as the Delta variant in Nigeria.
The NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu disclosed this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) in Abuja.
NAN reports that the deadly Delta variant is recognised by the World Health Organisation as a variant of concern.
The WHO said that the Delta variant was ‘dangerous’ and continued to evolve and mutate, and thus requiring constant evaluation and careful adjustment of the public health response.
Ihekweazu said the variant was detected in a traveller to Nigeria, following the routine travel test required of all international travelers and genomic sequencing at the NCDC National Reference Laboratory, Abuja.
“As part of Nigeria’s COVID-19 response, NCDC has been working with the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) African Centre for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) and other laboratories within the national network to carry out genomic sequencing.
”This is to enable the detection of variants of concern and initiate response activities.
“All data on variants from Nigeria have been published on GISAID, a global mechanism for sharing sequencing data.
”Given the global risk of spread of the Delta variant, positive samples from international travelers to Nigeria are sequenced regularly.
“The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has initiated several measures to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19.
”This includes the introduction of travel restrictions for countries where there is a surge in cases associated with widespread prevalence of variants of concern.
“The national travel protocol which includes compulsory seven-day self-isolation and repeat test on the seventh day after arrival, are in place to reduce the risk of spread of the virus.
”It is very important that this is strictly adhered to, to prevent a surge in COVID-19 cases in Nigeria,” he explained.
Given the high transmissibility of the Delta variant and following its detection in Nigeria, the NCDC boss urged all Nigerians to ensure strict adherence to public health and social measures in place.
“Proven public health and social measures such as physical distancing, frequent hand washing and proper use of face masks prevent infections and save lives.
”The COVID- 19 vaccine is safe and effective and offers protection against the disease,” he advised.
Additionally, he urged states to ensure sample collection and testing for COVID-19 was accessible to Nigerians.
“Public settings such as schools with accommodation facilities, workplaces and camps should utilise the approved Antigen-based Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) for rapid testing of their population,” he added.
He said although Nigeria had seen a low number of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria in the last eight weeks, it is incredibly important that we do not forget to be careful.
“Please protect yourselves and the people you love by adhering to the known public health and social measures, getting vaccinated if you are eligible and getting tested if you have symptoms.”
The NCDC boss said the recommended control measures to limit the spread of the new variant was continued testing, following the existing public health guidance and abiding by the current travel and public restrictions.
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