WHO: Coronavirus ‘spreading faster’; Africa needs $100bn economic stimulus; PDP, APC close secretariats

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Coronavirus is spreading ever faster, and there are now over 300,000 confirmed cases recorded worldwide, the World Health Organisation’s figures said on Monday.
“It took 67 days for the first 100,000 cases to be confirmed, 11 days for the next 100,000, and only four for the last 100,000,’’ it said.
WHO Director-General (D-G), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called the development “heartbreaking.”
He also said that the number of infections among doctors and care personnel is especially alarming.
“When the people who take care of the sick become ill themselves, many more people will die,’’ Tedros warned.
He also called on Group of 20 countries to work together to ratchet up the production of protective gear.
Tedros also said that those materials must be distributed fairly and arrive where they are needed most.
Report says the G20 includes the most important industrialised and emerging countries, which together account for over 80 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Meanwhile, Africa needs an immediate emergency economic stimulus to the tune of $100 billion, owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, the African Finance Ministers have said.
This is contained in a statement by Communication and Media Relations Department of the group.
It explained that it was part of decision of the African Finance Ministers who met on March 19, in a virtual conference to exchange ideas on the efforts of their respective governments in dealing with the social and economic impacts of COVID-19.
The ministers said as such, the waiver of all interest payments, estimated at $44 billion for 2020, and the possible extension of the waiver to the medium term, would provide immediate fiscal space and liquidity to the Governments in their efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to them, the interest payments waiver should include not only interest payments on public debt, but also on sovereign bonds.
The ministers agreed on the need to consider waiving principal and interest and encourage the use of existing facilities in the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), African Development Bank (AfDB) and other regional institutions for the fragile states.
They underscored the need to support the private sector and protect about 30 million jobs at risk, particularly in the tourism and airline sectors across the continent.
In other critical sectors including agriculture, imports and exports, pharmaceuticals and in banking, the finance ministers agreed that all interest and principal payments on corporate debt, leases, extended credit facilities, refinancing schemes and guarantee facilities should be used to waive, restructure and provide additional liquidity in 2020.
They further said 1that a liquidity line should also be made available to the private sector to ensure the continuity of essential purchases and all SMEs that were dependent on trade could continue to function.
According to them, these measures, must accompany a policy of opening borders for trade and that Europe and the United States, in particular, can build this in as part of their stimulus to their private and financial systems.
The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has directed a partial shutdown and skeletal activities at the party’s National Secretariat, Abuja from Wednesday, March 25.
The party, in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, on Monday in Abuja, said the directive was in line with the measures being taken to safeguard the country from the spread of COVID-19.
According to Ologbondiyan, the NWC also directed all PDP secretariats and offices across the country to comply with the directive.
Ologbondiyan explained that the party was  already adopting pre-emptive health safety measures that would safeguard lives in all PDP offices nationwide.
“The PDP enjoins Nigerians to comply with all directives by relevant agencies of government and the World Health Organisation (WHO) with regard to keeping safe from the pandemic.
“Our party identifies with Nigerians and the world community at this critical time in our history. Kindly stay safe,” he said.
Also, the All Progressives Congress ( APC) has ordered the closure of its National Secretariat,  Abuja,  directing staff to stay at home for two weeks to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, said this on Monday while interacting with staff of the party in Abuja.
He said that the closure was in line with the Federal Government directive ordering that people should stay away from large congregations and social gatherings.
“This is just a preventive measure that the party has taken by closing down the secretariat for about two weeks so that we can manage the situation at hand.
“But if it persists, then we will have to extend the holidays because we need to remain alive to be able to serve the country as a whole and members of the party,” Oshiomhole said.
According to him, APC as a ruling party must be seen to obey government’s orders.
“It is no longer a secret that we are facing a pandemic all over the world and Nigeria has its own share of the coronavirus, although it is not as bad as in other countries.
“But clearly the number is increasing as it is said, prevention is better than cure,” APC chairman said.
He said that the National Working Committee (NWC) met and decided to shut down the party’s secretariat.
“This is because I am not sure how many of you have private cars. Some of you use public transport to come to work which at this moment could be dangerous.
“I don’t think we will want to take any risk so we have decided to close the office,” he said.
Oshiomhole assured staff at the  National Secretariat that their salaries would be paid to them even when they were at home.

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