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Aliko Dangote Foundation Engages 54gene Laboratory To Conduct 1,000 COVID-19 Test Per Day In Kano

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The Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF), a philanthropic endeavor of Aliko Dangote, has contracted 54Gene, a molecular diagnostics company specialized in the research, and diagnostics, to immediately set up a 400 test/day capacity laboratory in Kano State.

54Gene is accredited by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and has already set up labs in Lagos and in Ogun States.

The lab, which was inaugurated yesterday – May 3rd in Kano, will start with a testing capacity of 400 tests a day, increasing to 1,000 tests a day by May 10th.

The lab will be set up at Muhammadu Buhari Hospital in Kano, where an isolation center is currently operational.

The President/Chief Executive of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote said the foundation is directly supporting the Nigerian government’s COVID-19 containment efforts in Kano State.

According to Dangote, this new investment in support of increasing nation-wide testing comes in addition to ADF’s support through the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID).

He explained: “CACOVID is already setting up a 310-bed isolation center at Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano. We are extending that capacity by another 150 beds at the Abubakar Imam Urology Centre in Kano, which is being converted into an isolation center now. These two centers will be operational pending the final validation by the Infection Prevention and Control team, which we expect will be completed in the coming days.”

Dangote pledged the Foundation’s commitment to reduce the number of lives lost to diseases, such as COVID-19, Ebola and other deadly viruses in the State.

He said the foundation would not relent in using its investments in health, education, and economic empowerment to help lift people out of sickness and poverty.

Speaking on the efforts of the Foundation to assist the Federal Government in curtailing the spread of COVID-19, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of ADF, Zouera Youssoufou, added that ADF is also supporting the Rapid Response Teams in their work to identify suspected COVID-19 cases across the healthcare centers in Kano. “ADF will immediately handover to the Kano RRT, 10 new ambulances (4 that are immediately available and 6 over the next week), two vehicles and PPEs to support the transportation of patients from different parts of the state”, she said.

She said that the Foundation is also supporting the Kano State Covid-19 contact call center that responds to citizen queries and concerns around Covid-19 and refers people to the proper place for follow up, by providing extra phone lines and ICT infrastructure as well as training for the call center staff.

On training, she disclosed: “We are supporting training and incentives for COVID-19 health workers. We will provide hazard incentives and protections for the healthcare and lab workers who are working on the COVID-19 response. We are also providing training to them, initially online and via distance learning, and will complement his with in-person training in Kano under strict IPC protocols developed in conjunction with the NCDC.

“ADF will continue to provide PPEs to the Kano State Covid-19 Taskforce, which will then be distributed to the hospitals as appropriate. Items already supplied include coveralls, gloves, masks, respirators, goggles, boots, and sanitizers.

“We are expanding the CACOVID communications strategy in Kano by adding more communications and advocacy around Covid-19 prevention across radio, TV, and traditional and community leaders.”

Commending ADF, Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje stated: “There’s no doubt we started on a shaky foundation, with the assistance of ADF, we can see that a friend indeed is a friend in need. We are very grateful for the mobile testing Centre witch will launch with 400 samples per day and after a week, increase to 1,000 tests per day

“It is now left for us to intensify efforts to collect samples. We will ensure that all that 44 Local Government Council have collection centers. Here in the metropolitan local government, we will have 100s of collection centers because this is where the majority of the population is”.

The governor added that the state has intensified efforts to create awareness about the reality of coronavirus.

He commended the Dangote Foundation for always occupying the forefront of helping in critical times like this.

Speaking on the collaboration, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of 54gene, Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong, the 40ft structure built with container technology, provides a unique plug-and-play solution.

Ene-Obong explained that the mobile laboratory is also fully kitted with vital instruments including an autoclave, bio-safety cabinet, centrifuge, heating blocks, vortexes, pipettes, and PCR machines to support COVID-19 testing.

He stated: “Our mobile lab is fully equipped with all the vital instruments required for COVID-19 testing, and allows us to quickly offer our services to multiple states due to the ease of transport. Its unique plug and play feature eliminates the logistics of shipping samples to another location for the processing which reduces turnaround times for test results and allows clinicians to manage and treat patients accurately, sooner rather than later.”

Ene-Obong said the company has also helped build capacity by equipping molecular scientists with the necessary skill set required to handle the instruments in the mobile lab as they would in regular molecular testing laboratories.

“Our mobile lab removes the restriction imposed by permanent buildings and allows us to quickly offer our services to multiple states due to the ease of transport and the mobile capability it provides”, he added.

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Killer Juice: Don’t Take Products Not Approved By NAFDAC, Lagos Warns Residents

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The Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, on his part, advised residents to check the expiry dates of the products they consumed.

Omotoso, in an interview with one of our correspondents, also urged residents of the state not to consume products that were not certified by NAFDAC.

Reacting to the story of the sales of expired citric acid powdered drinks in Kano State, the commissioner said the state consumer protection agency would not allow the ‘killer drink’ to be sold in the state.

He said, “We have a consumer protection agency saddled with the responsibility of curbing fake products and prosecuting people selling such.

“People must watch out for expiry dates on the products they consume and they have to ensure that such products are NAFDAC approved.”

Omotoso also assured residents of the state that there was no need to panic about the ‘killer drink.’

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10 Dead, 400 Hospitalized After Drinking ‘Killer Fruit Juice’ In Kano

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The Kano State Government on Thursday said 10 people had died and 400 others hospitalized after drinking a poisonous fruit juice.

The state government had month said the poisonous fruit juice claimed three lives and led to the hospitalization of 183 others.

The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Aminu Tsanyawa, in a video recording made available to journalists in Kano on Thursday, stated that out of 400 people hospitalized, 50 persons were undergoing treatment for kidney-related ailments.

As the Kano State Government gave an update on the killer drink, Lagos, Katsina, Cross River, Sokoto, and Osun state governments urged residents to be vigilant before consuming any fruit drink.

Although they urged residents not to panic, they advised them to check the expiry dates of drinks.

The Kano State Commissioner for Health had at a press conference in Kano on March 16 said the outbreak spread to 13 local government areas of the state.

The state ministry of health said the affected patients showed symptoms such as bloody urine, fever, lethargy, and sometimes yellowness of the eyes (jaundice).

On Thursday, Tsanyawa urged residents to be vigilant when consuming any fruit juice during the ongoing Ramadan to avoid catastrophic consequences.

The commissioner stated, “As you are aware, the ministry of health had in the recent past announced the outbreak of a strange disease traceable to the consumption of a substandard drink.

“The consumption of this fake and substandard product has telling effects on the kidney and other vital organs of the body.

“Due to excessive heat that coincides with Ramadan, there is a possibility for high patronage of juices; I want to use this opportunity to caution residents to be on the watch-out.”

Kano has over the past couple of weeks been battling with an outbreak of a strange disease that has further stretched the health challenges of the state.

Thursday’s update by the health commissioner came after a major breakthrough by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control’s arrest of the suspects behind selling the Kano killer drink.

The Public Relations Officer of the ministry, Hajiya Hadiza Namadi, in an interview with The PUNCH on Thursday, said the video on the update of the incident was meant to further warn residents against taking the killer drink, traders were still selling in the state.

NAFDAC) had last week explained that it found out that the chemical added to the drink that led to the death of three persons contained ‘Hyroxylamine,’ used for terrorism.

The regulatory agency disclosed that all the merchants of the deadly chemicals and additives had been apprehended while further investigations were ongoing.

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Sanwo-Olu Performs Ground Breaking Ceremony Of Lagos Rail Mass Transit Red Line Project [PHOTOS]

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History was made today (Thursday) in Lagos, with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu breaking the ground for the construction of the 37-km Rail Mass Transit Red Line, which will traverse from Agbado to Marina, moving more than one million commuters daily.

The rail corridor will be constructed in three phases. The first phase (Agbado-Iddo), which will be completed in 24 months, will be sharing the track with the Federal Government’s Lagos-Ibadan Railway Modernisation Project up to Ebute – Metta. It will have its dedicated track from Ebute – Metta to Oyingbo and reduce travel time from about two and a half hours to just 35 minutes. The passenger capacity of the first phase is 500,000 daily.

The ceremony was held at the proposed site of the Ikeja Train Station. It was witnessed by Minister of Transportation Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, who was represented by the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh.

To be fully operational in the last quarter of 2022, the Red Line, a project of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), will have eight train stations – from Agbado to Oyingbo.

The Red Line is to raise mass transportation capacity in the State, complementing the Blue Line that traverses from Okokomaiko to Marina. The Blue Line is at 78 percent completion.

Sanwo-Olu, who was at the event with the Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, handed cheques to property owners affected by the right-of-way, described the project as another initiative of his administration to deliver enduring infrastructure for the transport system and make Lagos a competitive megacity.

He said the traffic management and transportation pillar in his Government’s development blueprint – Project THEMES – was being implemented with the goal to develop an efficient and sustainable transportation model that would improve mobility, promote economic growth, and enhance the living conditions of residents.

He said: “Today’s flag-off of the construction of infrastructure for the standard gauge Red Line is another promise kept and it demonstrates, in practical terms, our commitment to achieve the objectives of traffic management and transportation pillar in our development agenda.

This is because we recognize the role which an efficient transportation system plays in enhancing people’s quality of life and as a major driver of socio-economic development.

“The State’s Strategic Transport Master Plan, which encompasses a number of projects that are germane to achieving our vision for a Greater Lagos, is founded on imperatives that seek to increase transport choices for all users and make the transit system integrated, attractive, convenient, affordable and accessible.

“Since efficient transportation is the backbone of any economy, we are happy to be committing this investment in our transport infrastructure, so that our people can meet their daily targets and aspirations. This all-important transport project we are all gathered to witness today represents a major step in this direction.”

Sanwo-Olu disclosed that the implementation of the Red Line was being supported under the Differentiated Cash Reserve Requirement (DCRR) programme – a financing package put in place by the State Government through the Central Bank Nigeria (CBN). The Governor expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari and the CBN Governor, Dr. Godwin Emefiele, for supporting the State in the bid to make the project a reality. He praised also the bankers who facilitated the funding.

To facilitate smooth operations of the Red Line, Sanwo-Olu said the State Government would be constructing ancillary infrastructure, including six overpasses at strategic level crossing points along the rail corridor to eliminate interactions between the rail system, vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

The overpasses will provide grade-separated crossings that will enhance safety for the rail system and road users.

Sanwo-Olu said: “The unique characteristics of the Red Line is its integration with the Ikeja Bus Terminal, Oshodi–Abule Egba Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lane, the future Orange Line, which goes from Ikeja to Agbowa, and the General Aviation Terminal One of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport through a skywalk.

“Another unique feature of the Red Line is that all the stations have elevated concourses with either at grade island or side platforms for easy boarding and alighting of passengers. The Red Line also integrates with our Bus Terminals at Oyingbo, Yaba, Oshodi, Ikeja and Iju, giving modal options to our people in their daily commute, either for business or leisure.”

The Governor presented cheques of varying amounts as compensation to 25 residents whose properties, businesses, and accommodation will be affected by the project. Over 263 properties are affected. Many of the property owners and tenants were smiling as they got their cheques.

Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladehinde, described the Red Line as a continuation of the implementation of the State’s Strategic Transport Master Plan, which made provision for six standard rail lines, one monorail, 14 BRT corridors, and over 20 waterway routes.

He said the intervention was a deliberate effort of the State Government and its development partners to make Lagos livable beyond the Year 2032.

Managing Director of LAMATA, Mrs. Abimbola Akinajo, said the project was a bold step and commitment of the Governor to solving transportation challenges in line with his administration’s development blueprint.

She noted that the construction would not be delayed by funding and human factors, as stakeholders were duly carried along in the projects.

The Lagos mass transit rail dream began in 1983 during the tenure of Alhaji Lateef Jakande, but it was stopped by the then Federal Government. Sanwo-Olu has vowed to ensure that the Blue Line and the Red Line are completed to the memory of the late Jakande.

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