Samsung sends 300 workers to China for “chip factory expansion”
Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s largest memory chipmaker, said on Friday that it had sent 300 more South Korean engineers and workers to China to complete the expansion of its second chip manufacturing facility there amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Samsung said engineers and workers, including some from its subcontractors, left for the Chinese city of Xian on a chartered flight earlier in the day.
The move came a month after Samsung dispatched 200 engineers to the Xian plant in Shaanxi Province.
Samsung said the workers will be exempted from 14-day mandatory isolation under a fast-track entry system approved by South Korea and China, but they still need to be quarantined for three days even after they all test negative for the virus.
Earlier this week, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong returned home from his trip to the Xian plant.
The Xian plant is Samsung’s only foreign memory chip factory that makes 3D NAND flash products.
The South Korean tech giant last year revealed it will invest an additional U.S.$8 billion in the plant for expansion.
COVID-19: Nigeria records breakthrough as NCDC validates viral RNA extraction
The country has blazed a trail in Africa with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) successfully validating the first phase of the viral Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) extraction which should enable local production of cheap testing kits for coronavirus.
The validation took place on Thursday in the laboratory of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) in Abuja.
The Director-General of NABDA, Prof. Alex Akpa, told the Newsmen after the exercise that the success of the validation was important not only to Nigeria but Africa as a whole.
“The success of this validation shall enable us to massively produce test kits so that more people would be tested for COVID-19, not only in Nigeria but in Africa.
“The immediate aim is to produce reagents for real time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), and remember, recently the lack of reagents stalled work in Kano and molecular diagnosis could no longer take place,’’ Akpa said.
He also recalled that the absence of the same reagent equally stalled COVID-19 diagnosis in Lagos for many days.
“This project is, therefore, designed to enable not only Nigeria but the whole of Africa to put the issue of shortage of reagents behind,’’ the director-general said.
He disclosed that that the project was a Pan-African project whose partners include Ethiopia, NCDC and the University of Sheffield, U.K., among others with funding to come from African Development Bank.
Dr Ndodo Nnaemeka, Chief Molecular Bioengineer, National Reference Laboratory of NCDC, said he was mandated by the NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, to “launch this wonderful project.’’
According to Nnaemeka, the project is designed to solve the problem of RNA extraction kit which had become a global issue.
He said there were serious concerns for the need to have more extraction kits in-country, and that there was growing demand worldwide for extraction kits.
“The western world prioritises their own interest first by making sure that they meet their local needs before exporting to other countries, so there was really need for it,’’ he said,
The NCDC chief molecular bioengineer said the first phase of the evaluation results he carried out with the NABDA scientific team was “awesome and successful.’’
“The kits compete favourably well with other international kits we are using, in fact, it scored highly in purity and in quantity of extraction and we are thinking of scaling production,’’ Nnaemeka said.
He clarified that to be able to conduct test, the viral information which comes as the RNA has to first be extracted and without this extraction, no test can be conducted.
“What will tell you that the virus is there is contained in the RNA, so RNA is required for you to be able to detect COVID-19,’’ he said.
He added that as scientists, they would soon carry out the second phase of the evaluation which would involve real sample of COVID-19.
Similarly, Dr Rose Gidado, a scientist at NABDA and Country Coordinator, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), said the exercise was historic.
She said the validated RNAswift Test Kit for COVID-19 was developed by Dr Alison Nwokeoji, a Nigerian scientist at the University of Sheffield, U.K.
She corroborated that the African Development Bank was taking over the manufacture of the test kits so as to expand Nigeria’s testing capacity with emphasis on farmers’ health.
Gidado also disclosed that the new test kit could test more than 20,000 people per day.
“If we set up more testing centres, we can easily do 50,000 with automation,’’ the scientist said.
She added that the project was a partnership involving NABDA, NCDC, Ethiopia, NVRI Vom, NIMR and the Ministries of Science and Technology, Health and Agriculture.
The evaluation and validation of the RNAswift Test Kit for COVID-19 was carried out in the immunology laboratory of the NABDA.
It was done in the presence of a donor, Mr Bolaji Akinboro of Cellulant Nig. Ltd, and Mr Richard Mbaram, the Technical Adviser to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, among others
COVID-19: NEMA distributes 19,713 metric tonnes of grains to Lagos, Kano, Ogun, FCT
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has distributed 19,713 metric tonnes of grains to Lagos, Kano, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory, as part of measures to cushion the effect of the pandemic in the states.
Mr Tope Ajayi, Assistant Chief Relief and Rehabilitation Officer of the agency disclosed this in an interview with the Newsmen on Friday in Abuja.
He said that the agency in collaborated with the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to ensure smooth distribution of the palliatives.
He noted that the grains consist of maize, millet and sorghum.
“At the onset, the directive was for the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to ensure that the grains get to 13 front line states.
“But with the expansion and spread of the pandemic, there was need for us to extend to 24 states.
“So in the first batch, we delivered to Ogun, Lagos, Kano and the Federal Capital Territory.
“Presently, we are distributing to Zamfara, Borno and Katsina state.
“So out of the 70 metric tonnes of grains which was approved for distribution by President Buhari, 19,713 metric tonnes went to the first four states earlier mentioned.
“The remaining 50,286 metric tonnes will be distributed to the remaining 20 states,” he said
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