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WHO research team in Wuhan for covid-19 research

Benjamin Ukpabi

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WHO research team in Wuhan for covid-19 research

WHO Team Arrives in  Wuhan to Search for Covid-19 Origins

A global team of researchers arrived Thursday in the Chinese city where the coronavirus pandemic was first detected to conduct a politically sensitive investigation into its origins amid uncertainty about whether Beijing might try to prevent embarrassing discoveries.

The 10-member team sent to Wuhan by the World Health Organization was approved by President Xi Jinping’s government after months of diplomatic wrangling that prompted an unusual public complaint by the head of the WHO.

Scientists suspect the virus that has killed 1.9 million people since late 2019 jumped to humans from bats or other animals, most likely in China’s southwest. The ruling Communist Party, stung by complaints it allowed the disease to spread, says the virus came from abroad, possibly on imported seafood, but scientists reject that.

CGTN, the English-language channel of state broadcaster CCTV, reported the WHO team’s arrival. The members include virus and other experts from the United States, Australia, Germany, Japan, Britain, Russia, the Netherlands, Qatar and Vietnam.

A government spokesman said this week they will “exchange views” with Chinese scientists but gave no indication whether they would be allowed to gather evidence.

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They will undergo a two-week quarantine as well as a throat swab test and an antibody test for Covid-19, according to a post on CGTN’s official Weibo account. They are to start working with Chinese experts via video conference while in quarantine.

China rejected demands for an international investigation after the Trump administration blamed Beijing for the virus’s spread, which plunged the global economy into its deepest slump since the 1930s.

After Australia called in April for an independent inquiry, Beijing retaliated by blocking imports of Australian beef, wine and other goods.

One possibility is that a wildlife poacher might have passed the virus to traders who carried it to Wuhan, one of the WHO team members, zoologist Peter Daszak of the US group EcoHealth Alliance, told the Associated Press in November.

A single visit by scientists is unlikely to confirm the virus’s origins; pinning down an outbreak’s animal reservoir is typically an exhaustive endeavor that takes years of research including taking animal samples, genetic analysis and epidemiological studies.

“The government should be very transparent and collaborative,” said Shin-Ru Shih, director at the Research Center for Emerging Viral Infections at Taiwan’s Chang Gung University.

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The Chinese government has tried to stir confusion about the virus’s origin. It has promoted theories, with little evidence, that the outbreak might have started with imports of tainted seafood, a notion rejected by international scientists and agencies.

“The WHO will need to conduct similar investigations in other places,” an official of the National Health Commission, Mi Feng, said Wednesday.

Some of the WHO team were en route to China a week ago but had to turn back after Beijing announced they hadn’t received valid visas.

That might have been a “bureaucratic bungle,” but the incident “raises the question if the Chinese authorities were trying to interfere,” said Adam Kamradt-Scott, a health expert at the University of Sydney.

A possible focus for investigators is the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the city where the outbreak began. One of China’s top virus research labs, it built an archive of genetic information about bat coronaviruses after the 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

According to WHO’s published agenda for its origins research, there are no plans to assess whether there might have been an accidental release of the coronavirus at the Wuhan lab, as some American politicians, including President Donald Trump, have claimed.

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A “scientific audit” of Institute records and safety measures would be a “routine activity,” said Mark Woolhouse, an epidemiologist at the University of Edinburgh. He said that depends on how willing Chinese authorities are to share information.

“There’s a big element of trust here,” Woolhouse said.

An AP investigation found the government imposed controls on research into the outbreak and bars scientists from speaking to reporters.

The coronavirus’s exact origin may never be traced because viruses change quickly, said Woolhouse.

Although it may be challenging to find precisely the same Covid-19 virus in animals as in humans, discovering closely related viruses might help explain how the disease first jumped from animals and clarify what preventive measures are needed to avoid future epidemics.

Scientists should focus instead on making a “comprehensive picture” of the virus to help respond to future outbreaks, Woolhouse said.

“Now is not the time to blame anyone,” Shih said. “We shouldn’t say, it’s your fault.”

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Police Officer arrested with gang member during robbery operation

Wisdom Nwachukwu

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Elekahia Police Division on sunday arrested a police sergeant Ibrahim Odege, and one other person involved in armed robbery at Elekahia Housing Estate.

State Police Command Public Relations Officer, Nmadi Omoni, disclosed this in a press statement. He said the two suspects were robbing people and falsefully taking their valuables from them.

Omoni said that the police early arrival to the scene led to the arrest of the two armed robbers, the police division identified one of the suspect Sergeant Ibrahim Odege attached to the Operations Department of the Rivers Police Command and one Sampson Inomoghe from Nembe in Bayelsa State, but resides at Rumuokwrushi in Obio/Akpor LGA.

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He said that the suspects took responsibilities for most of the robberies carried out in that axis. Omoni added that the state commissioner of police, Joseph G. Mukan, strongly condemned the act and ordered the immediate transfer of of the suspects and exhibits to the state Criminal Investigation Department for Investigation.

He appealed to the residents of the area to remain calm and be vigilant, also to work with the police to keep their area safe.

 

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Mercedes Benz With ‘Learner’ Sign Set Ablaze After Crushing 6 Children to Death in Edo

Wisdom Nwachukwu

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Mercedes Benz With ‘Learner’ Sign Set Ablaze After Crushing 6 Children to Death in Edo State. The incident happened in Arue-Uromi, Esan-North East Local Government Area of the state.

According to Eye witnesses, the six children crushed by the Mercedes  were siblings, four girls and two boys, the driver (a learner) was trying to dodge a pothole and swerved to the spot where the kids were playing football.

This incident provoked the residents of the community,  they immediately blocked the road and set the Mercedes Benz ablaze.

This incident was confirmed by the Edo State Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Henry Benamaisia.

READ  Alleged N18m land scam lands Rivers’ man in court

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I Didn’t Bribe Malami With $5m -Akpabio

Wisdom Nwachukwu

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Senator Godswill Akpabio(Minister of Niger Delta Affairs), has denied the news making the rounds that he offered a bribe of $5 million to the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to earn his appointment as a sole administrator for the  Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Akpabio said this on Sunday through his media aide Anietie Ekong. he insisted that he would take legal action against frontliners of the news to clear his name and that of AGF.

Ekong said “the attention of the minister of Niger Delta Affairs has been drawn to a piece of fake news, which claimed that Senator Akpabio paid $5 million bribe to Malami and others to secure the appointment of a Sole Administrator for NDDC.

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“We wish to state categorically that this is a piece of malicious concoction manufactured from the pit of hell by mischief-makers. It is a figment of the imagination of the author of the fake news. Akpabio denies the story in its entirety. The authors of the fake news should be ready to back up their claim or face the full wrath of the law.

“The story is a desperate attempt by some unscrupulous bloggers to impugn the integrity of Akpabio and Malami as the claim is not only spurious but utterly ridiculous.

“The fact is that in a suit number ABJ/CS/617/2020 filed by a Civil Society Organization, Forum for Accountability and Good Governance, at a Federal High Court in Abuja, Justice Ahmed Mohammed had granted an order restraining the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC from performing the functions of the board and accessing the commission’s offices and files.”

READ  Sunday Latest News 29th November 2020

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