Africa Lacks Preparedness For Virus Vaccine Roll-Out – WHO

File photo: A Sinovac Biotech LTD vaccine candidate for COVID-19 coronavirus is seen on display at the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) in Beijing on September 6, 2020. (Photo by NOEL CELIS / AFP)

 

The World Health Organization on Thursday urged African countries to improve their capacity to vaccinate populations against Covid-19, warning the continent was still “far from ready” for mass immunisation.

With three coronavirus vaccines now showing efficacy rates of 70 percent or more, the UN body called on Africa to “ramp up” preparations for “the continent’s largest ever immunisation drive”.

The African region is so far only 33 percent ready to roll out Covid-19 vaccines, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement.

That figure, based on data provided by 40 countries on a series of “readiness criteria”, is well below a desired 80 percent benchmark.

“Planning and preparation will make or break this unprecedented endeavour,” WHO Africa Director Matshidiso Moeti said during a virtual press briefing.

The main concerns are a lack of adequate funding plans, monitoring tools and community outreach.

“There are key logistical and financing gaps where international solidarity will be imperative,” Moeti said.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 Protests Halt Public Transport In Athens

The WHO estimates that rolling out a Covid-19 vaccine to just priority populations in Africa will cost around $5.7 billion (4.8 billion euros).

African countries will be partially subsidised by the COVAX global Covid-19 distribution scheme.

The World Bank has also set aside $12 billion (10.1 billion euros) to help developing countries finance their immunisation programs.

Moeti said the aim was to vaccinate three percent of Africa’s population by March 2021, and 20 percent by the end of the year.

– Africa-based research –
Other health experts at the briefing said additional research was needed to develop vaccines more suitable to the continent.

They noted that a promising vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, which tested at a 95 percent success rate at its latest trial, must be kept at -70 degrees celsius — all but impossible for most hospitals in Africa.

“We really should be doing some of this vaccine research in the African region,” said Helen Rees, chair of the WHO’s Africa immunisation advisory group.

So far only Egypt, Morocco, Kenya and South Africa have active Covid-19 vaccine trials.

Moeti said it was important for the continent not to fall behind on global preparations for Covid-19 vaccinations even though coronavirus infections had somewhat plateaued.

She noted that Africa has been relatively spared compared to the rest of the world, with over 2.1 million cases and 50,000 deaths recorded to date.

But some countries are beginning to see localised infection surges, particularly in South Africa and the Maghreb.

“We are starting to see an uptick and that gives us a lot of concern,” Moeti warned. “The curve is once again trending upwards a little bit.”

AFP

We Should All Secure Our Countries, Buhari Tells African Leaders

President Muhammadu Buhari meets with a special envoy of the Algerian President and the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sabri Boukadoum, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on November 26, 2020.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has stressed the importance of peace, tranquillity, and security in all countries across the African continent.

He made the remark on Thursday when he received a special envoy of the Algerian President, who is also the country’s Foreign Minister, Mr Sabri Boukadoum, at Presidential Villa in Abuja.

“Unless you secure your environment, you can’t manage it well,” the President was quoted as saying in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.

He added, “We should all secure our countries, because if we don’t, what do we then bequeath to the next generation? We can’t grow or develop in an insecure environment.”

President Muhammadu Buhari with a special envoy of the Algerian President and the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sabri Boukadoum, as well as others at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on November 26, 2020.

 

President Buhari assured the special envoy that Nigeria would encourage and support every move that would enhance economic cooperation between the West African country and the Republic of Algeria.

He stated that projects like the Trans-Sahara road, international gas pipelines, and other areas of economic cooperation would be given adequate attention for the good of the people of the two countries.

The special envoy, on his part, described Nigeria as the pillar of Africa.

He also told the President that he had brought messages from his President, “so that we consult, and see what we can do together.”

President Buhari met with the Algerian minister, in company with Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, and other top government officials.

Scholars Seek More Climate Cooperation between China and Africa

This file photo taken on June 29, 2019 shows an iceberg floating in Bonavista Bay in Newfoundland, Canada. The extent of sea ice in the Arctic was at record lows for October, Danish researchers said Wednesday, October 28, 2020, adding the unusually warm season meant it was not recovering as fast as normal. Johannes EISELE / AFP
This file photo taken on June 29, 2019 shows an iceberg floating in Bonavista Bay in Newfoundland, Canada. Rising temperatures across the world could see icebergs like this become extinct, changing the world’s topography with devastating consequences. Johannes EISELE / AFP

 

Academics and professionals knowledgeable about climate change have called for more cooperation between China and African nations in the aspect of climate cooperation.

The call was made at the ninth meeting of the China-Africa Think Tank Forum, in a session organised by the Department for Developing Countries Studies of the China Institute for International Studies.

The experts agreed that China and African countries have, over the years, cooperated on climate change issues through training exchanges, scholarship programs, transfer of technology, among many others.

However, the scale of challenges posed by climate change calls for increased investment in the existing, thriving relationship between China and African nations.

“Climate change has a higher impact on the already vulnerable, including children and the elderly,” Robert Gituru, a Professor at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya, said during the session. “If we want to improve the lives of poor people, then we must have close collaboration between African and Chinese scientists.”

Zhu Weidong, a research fellow of the China-Africa Institute, correctly noted that while Africa contributes little to climate pollution, the effect is harsher on the continent, thus the need for more cooperation between both China and African nations.

The ninth China-Africa Think-Tank Forum took place between November 4 and 5, and brought together hundreds of diplomats and experts from across the world to discuss the history of cooperation between China and Africa over the last two decades, as well as future cooperation.

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), a dynamic plaform which has elevated and strengthened the quality of discourse between China and African countries.

U.S. Elections: Past Problems In Africa Unfolding In America, Says Professor Albert

Professor Isaac Albert speaks during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on November 5, 2020.

 

As the United States conducts the election to choose its president for another four years, the past challenges witnessed in Africa and developing countries are evolving in the poll.

This is according to Mr Isaac Albert, a professor of African History, Peace, and Conflict Studies, while analysing the election on Thursday on Sunrise Daily.

“What we are witnessing, to me as a professor, is to say that students of electoral democracy should begin to question existing literature on electoral democracy because the impression initially created is that America is a citadel of democracy,” he said during his appearance on the Channels Television breakfast show.

Professor Albert added, “But all the past problems that we have witnessed in Africa and in the developing countries of the world are unfolding in America – election violence, the use of unhealthy languages by the candidates, misuse of social media; all these are unfolding in this election.”

A breakdown of U.S. elections results counted as of 9am on November 5, 2020. Source: The Associated Press.

 

On the latest developments in the poll, he believes the people’s power is at play, saying what is unfolding is that electoral democracy has to do with the people.

Several Problems?

The don stated that three important credibility factors – personal credibility of the candidate, procedural credibility, and credibility of the institutions – were important for a democracy to work in any country.

He noted that there were “several problems” with the U.S. elections, decrying a situation where a president was questioning the processes in his country on the production of leaders.

 

Professor Albert said, “This is the first time one will be witnessing a president actually challenging the process, even before the results are declared.

“President Trump is asking for recounting of the ballots in some states, he is asking that the counting of the ballots should even stop in some states, and he is preparing to go to court for results that have not been declared.”

“So, in other words, he is questioning a process that might even make him a president because he could win at the end of the day. I think this is of deep interest to us,” the don added.

The US Elections Project estimated total turnout at a record 160 million, including more than 101.1 million early voters, 65.2 million of whom cast ballots by mail amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of the votes counted as of 9am on Thursday, Democratic Party presidential candidate, Joe Biden takes the lead with 72,102,585 – representing 50.4 per cent of the total votes.

A voter marks his ballot at a polling place in Dennis Wilkening's shed on November 3, 2020 in Richland, Iowa. Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP
A voter marks his ballot at a polling place in Dennis Wilkening’s shed on November 3, 2020, in Richland, Iowa. Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP.

 

On the other hand, U.S. President Donald Trump, who is contesting on the platform of the Republican Party, has 68,637,070 votes – representing 48 per cent of the total ballots.

So far, both Biden and Trump have 264 and 214 electoral votes respectively, and a candidate is expected to have a minimum of 270 electoral votes to be declared the winner of the election.

While the Democratic Party candidate and his supporters are anticipating victory, the Republican Party candidate and his camp seek to challenge the results before the polls are concluded.

Life Returning To Normal In Nigeria, SA, Others As COVID-19 Fears Linger

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) nurse Bhelekazi Mdlalose (L), 51, performs a swab test for COVID-19 coronavirus on a health worker at the Vlakfontein Clinic in Lenasia, Johannesburg, on May 13, 2020. Michele Spatari / AFP
File photo: Doctors Without Borders (MSF) nurse Bhelekazi Mdlalose (L), 51, performs a swab test for COVID-19 coronavirus on a health worker at the Vlakfontein Clinic in Lenasia, Johannesburg, on May 13, 2020. Michele Spatari / AFP.

 

“Things are getting back to normal, even though it will never be like it was before,” says a relieved Petunia Maseko, relaxing in a bar in South Africa’s Soweto township.

Africa has weathered the coronavirus pandemic relatively well in terms of infections and deaths, though its economies have been badly ravaged.

While many nations ease their COVID-19 measures and citizens dare to breathe a little easier, experts are warning against letting the continent’s success lapse into complacency.

There was plenty of celebrating at The Black and White Lifestyle Pub in Soweto on Friday as the first weekend of spring coincided with South Africa’s transition to its lowest level of lockdown.

The continent’s hardest-hit nation, South Africa has reeled under one of the world’s strictest lockdowns.

“It was tough staying in for six months without socialising,” said Maseko, a 21-year-old engineering student wearing a brightly coloured Ndebele traditional outfit.

But virus measures were followed, with masked revellers getting their temperatures checked at the bar’s entrance.

Sanitising gel in hand, 26-year-old DJ Tiisetso Tenyane was delighted to finally play in front of a live audience after months of live-streaming shows.

“I’ve been craving to play for the people again,” he said.

He said that face masks are “the only sign left that there ever was a pandemic”.

On the rest of the African continent, daily life varies vastly between strict observance of health measures and total relaxation.

– ‘Back to our habits’ –

“We don’t care about corona,” Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara said, oblivious to listening microphones, when he kissed a party official last month in front of thousands of people in clear defiance of virus restrictions.

Although masks are still compulsory, that rule is “not respected anywhere or almost anywhere” in Ivory Coast, a health worker said on condition of anonymity.

“The hysteria is gone and the state no longer communicates much about the subject”.

In DR Congo’s capital Kinshasa, taking temperatures and washing hands are still the norm in the residential district of Gombe, which is also the city’s diplomatic and economic centre.

But in working-class communities, masks are being pushed down to the chin and people are shaking hands again.

For many the latest buzz phrase is “corona eza te”, which translates to “there is no corona” in the local Lingala.

In West African’s Burkina Faso, 43-year-old fish seller Ousmane Ouedraogo said he can’t wear a mask forever.

“We tried to wear it every day but it was the authorities who set the example by acting as if the disease was over. So we’re going back to our habits,” he said.

Nobody uses the hand-washing station at the entrance to Guillaume Traore’s restaurant in Burkina’s capital Ouagadougou.

“When you remind a customer, he tells you that the coronavirus does not exist,” he said.

In Chad and Gabon, many wear masks low down, covering only the mouth or just the chin, only to hastily lift them up when they come across the police.

In churches, mosques and markets, people jostle into each other. In the evening, however, a strict curfew remains in place.

– ‘Be very careful’ –

In the megacity Lagos of Africa’s most populous country Nigeria, civil servant Isiaka Okesanya said he now regularly forgets to wear his mask.

“It’s like God has helped us to get rid of the disease. We no longer read about those big figures of deaths,” the 41-year-old told AFP.

But Emmanuel Akinyemi, director of Lagos-based Estate Clinic, said that “coronavirus is real and is still very much around us”.

Health Minister Osagie Ehanire said last week that while Nigeria’s daily infection figures have been trending downwards, “we, unfortunately, cannot afford to rejoice or speak of success”.

The World Health Organization’s Africa regional director Matshidiso Moeti said the continent has been spared “an exponential spread of Covid-19 as many initially feared”.

However, John Nkengasong, director of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, warned that “we also have to be very careful that we do not over-project any successes”.

In West Africa’s Senegal, life has almost returned to normal since June.

This is in stark contrast to Rwanda, where one of the strictest lockdowns is still in place and police make arrests for “not wearing masks properly”.

In northern Africa, Morocco remains in lockdown, especially economic capital Casablanca, where large neighbourhoods are tightly sealed off.

Eastern Africa’s Kenya is meanwhile reopening its bars and allowing restaurants to sell alcohol again as infections drop.

“We are the most vulnerable and fragile at the moment where we think we have won,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Monday.

“If we have won one battle against Covid-19, we have not yet won the war.”

AFP

AfDB Will Support Africa With Quality Infrastructure In Healthcare, Manufacturing – Adesina

 

President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina has promised to give more support to ensure that the continent’s infrastructure gap is reduced by providing quality growth.

Dr Adesina, during his inaugural address after being sworn-in as AfDB President on Tuesday, pledged to expand partnership and tilt more attention to Africa.

The AfDB President, who was re-elected unanimously by the bank’s board of Governors to serve a second five-year term on August 27, said his administration will focus on the institution, people, delivery, and sustainability.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything globally; it has thrown Africa’s growth back. The continent has lost gains and economic growth that were achieved over the last decade.

“Africa’s recovery will therefore be long and challenging. Now we must help Africa build back boldly but smartly, paying greater attention to quality growth, especially in the areas of health, climate, and the environment.

“As we look into the future, working with the board of Directors, the bank will pay increased attention to supporting Africa with quality healthcare infrastructure and building on its comparative advantage in infrastructure. The bank’s infrastructure work will focus on economic infrastructure, quality physical infrastructure in health,” he added.

READ ALSO: Akinwumi Adesina Sworn-In For Second Term As AfDB President

 

President-elect of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, signs documents after taking the oath of office on Tuesday.

 

Dr Adesina also stated that the new opportunities provided by the pandemic will see additional growth trajectory in Africa’s industrialisation drive, alongside the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

“Covid-19 also opens up new opportunities and a greater sense of urgency to build Africa’s manufacturing capacity, industrial development, and critically-needed industrial value-chains that must be supported by enabling infrastructure and policies.

“Special attention will be given to regional industrial value chains and strengthening of financial markets in order to expand the intraregional trade and competitiveness and to boost Africa Continental Free Trade Area.”

He maintained that the continent still faces a lot of challenges and it is crucial that all the necessary support is received to bridge the gaps caused by the challenges.

“Your Excellency, let there be no doubt the challenges ahead are still many including poverty, inequality, fragility, high youth unemployment, significant infrastructure financing gaps, and sustainable debt management.

“As we look into the future, let me assure you, the bank will play a greater role in policy dialogue with Countries. We will support sustainable debt management, boost green growth, and accelerate the provision of jobs for youth on our beloved continent,” he stressed.

AfDB: Keep Investing In Africa’s Development, Tinubu Tells Adesina

Nigeria’s Akinwumi Adesina has been re-elected as the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

 

The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, has congratulated Nigeria’s former Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, on his re-election as the President of African Development Bank (AfDB).

He said Adesina’s re-election for another term of five years was an affirmation of Africa’s confidence in his ability and commitment to the development of the continent.

Dr Adesina was re-elected on Thursday last week by the Board of Governors of the AfDB Group at its 2020 Annual Meetings in Abidjan, the capital of Cote D’Ivoire.

In a passionate letter forwarded to Adesina at the weekend and personally signed by him, Asiwaju Tinubu said, “By way of this letter, please accept my heartfelt congratulations over your election to serve a second five-year as President, African Development Bank at the recent 2020 Annual Meetings of the AfDB Group.

“Your unanimous re-election by the Board of Governors, coming after ill-defined attempts to block your continuance, shows that if we remain vigilant and true to the collective purpose of the economic progress of the African continent, then fairness and justice will win out in the end.”

READ ALSO: ‘We Made History,’ Adesina Thanks AfDB Governors, Others For His Re-Election

Tinubu described Adesina as a globally renowned economist who has demonstrated outstanding competence and professionalism during his first term, adding that his re-election was an affirmation of Africa’s confidence in his ability and commitment.

According to him, the AfDB president distinguished himself in his first term by driving to reshape the bank to be a more active catalyst for Africa’s development.

NASS Leadership: Why I Am Backing Buhari, APC’s Position – Tinubu
(FILE) APC National Leader, Bola Tinubu, speaks at the 11th Bola Tinubu Colloquim in Abuja on March 28, 2019. Photo: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

The APC leader noted that Adesina focused on five development priorities known as the High 5s – Light Up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialise Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa.

He said, “As AfDB President for another term, I urge you to continue in like manner. Continue to invest your cognitive abilities, immense skills, and robust energy in the development of Africa.

“Given the exigencies of the present moment due to the global pandemic, you must put your knowledge and creativity into fullest use that we work towards creating more employment for the people of this continent and remove them from the grip of poverty and its attendant difficulties.

“The AfDB must be at the policy and intellectual vanguard as we seek ways to contain both the public health and economic challenges of COVID-19.

“For your re-election, we must also congratulate and applaud President Muhammadu Buhari and other present and past leaders in Africa who believed in you and worked assiduously for your success.

“This victory is not only yours, the AfDB group or Nigeria’s, it is victory for Africa itself. The continent deserves that our best and most able minds be able to serve and work for its betterment.

“I wish you an even more successful second term. May God be with you and may He help and guide you in the struggle against poverty and in our efforts to bring much-needed development to our continent and its people.

“Please rest assured of my highest regards always.”

Nigeria, Africa Declared Polio-Free

Polio, sokoto state
A file photo of children with polio

 

The Africa Regional Certification Commission has declared Nigeria and the rest of Africa polio-free.

According to the World Health Organisation (W.H.O), this marks the eradication of a second virus from the face of the continent since smallpox 40 years ago.

In a statement on Tuesday, the organisation commended donors and health workers for saving the lives of children who have been suffering from the disease.

“Thanks to the relentless efforts by governments, donors, frontline health workers and communities, up to 1.8 million children have been saved from the crippling life-long paralysis,” the WHO said in a statement.

The official announcement is due at 1500 GMT in a videoconference with WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and key figures including philanthropist and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

“Happiness is an understatement. We’ve been on this marathon for over 30 years,” said Tunji Funsho, a Nigerian doctor and local anti-polio coordinator for Rotary International.

He said it marked a crucial step in the total eradication of the illness at the global level.

“It’s a real achievement, I feel joy and relief at the same time,” he added.

Poliomyelitis, or “wild polio” is an acutely infectious and contagious disease that attacks the spinal cord and causes irreversible paralysis in children.

It was endemic around the world until a vaccine was found in the 1950s, though this remained out of reach for many poorer countries in Asia and Africa.

As late as 1988, the WHO counted 350,000 cases globally, and in 1996 said there were more than 70,000 cases in Africa alone.

Thanks to a rare instance of collective global effort and financial backing — some $19 billion over 30 years — only Afghanistan and Pakistan have recorded cases this year: 87 in total.

– Trust –

Nigeria, a country with 200 million inhabitants, was still among the trouble-spots in the early 2000s.

In its northern Muslim-majority areas, authorities were forced to stop vaccination campaigns in 2003 and 2004 by Islamic extremists who claimed it was a vast conspiracy to sterilise young Muslims.

It took a huge effort in tandem with traditional chiefs and religious leaders to convince populations that the vaccine was safe.

“People trust their local traditional leaders who live with them more than the political leaders,” said Grema Mundube, a community leader in the town of Monguno, in the far north of Nigeria.

“Once we spoke to them and they saw us immunising our children they gradually accepted the vaccine,” he told AFP.

However, the emergence of violent Islamist group Boko Haram in 2009 caused another rupture in the programme. In 2016, four new cases were discovered in Borno state in the northeast in the heart of the conflict.

“At the time, we couldn’t reach two-thirds of the children of Borno state — 400,000 children couldn’t access the vaccine,” said Dr. Funsho.

The security situation remains highly volatile in the region, with the members of Boko Haram and a local Islamic State affiliate controlling vast areas around Lake Chad and the border with Niger.

Inaccessible children –

The security situation remains highly volatile in the region, with the members of Boko Haram and a local Islamic State affiliate controlling vast areas around Lake Chad and the border with Niger.

“International agencies, local governments, donors — all partners took the bull by the horns to find new strategies to manage to reach these children,” said Dr Musa Idowu Audu, coordinator for the WHO in Borno.

In these “partially accessible” areas, vaccination teams worked under the protection of the Nigerian army and local self-defence militias.

For areas fully controlled by the jihadists, the WHO and its partners sought to intercept people coming in and out along the market and transport routes in a bid to spread medical information and recruit “health informants” who could tell them about any polio cases.

“We built a pact of trust with these populations, for instance by giving them free medical supplies,” said Dr Audu.

Today, it is estimated that only 30,000 children are still “inaccessible”: a number considered too low by scientists to allow for an epidemic to break out.

Despite the “extreme happiness and pride” felt by Dr Audu, he never fails to remember the 20 or more medical staff and volunteers killed for the cause in northeast Nigeria in recent years.

The challenge now is to ensure that no new polio cases arrive from Afghanistan or Pakistan and that vaccinations continue to ensure that children across the continent are protected from this vicious disease.

“Before we couldn’t sleep at all. Now we will sleep with one eye open,” said Dr. Funsho.

African Leagues: Moroccan, Egyptian Clubs Hit By COVID-19

 

More than 20 positive tests for coronavirus at several clubs led to the postponement or cancellation of league matches in Morocco and Egypt at the weekend.

Three matchday 22 fixtures were called off in the Moroccan Botola Pro 1 with Ittihad Tangier worst affected as 23 of the staff tested positive.

Wydad Casablanca and Rapide Oued Zem were also hit by a COVID-19 outbreak and could not play.

Egyptian club Al Masry said 22 of their staff tested positive and the Port Said outfit did not turn up for a fixture against Ismaily.

EGYPT

With runaway leaders Al Ahly set for a record-extending 42nd title, arch rivals Zamalek improved their chances of coming second thanks to a 1-0 win over lowly Misr Lel Makkasa.

Forward Hossam Ashraf scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time to secure three points for Zamalek, whose rivalry with fellow Cairo club Ahly dates back to 1911.

Third-place Pyramids FC had to come from two goals behind to draw 2-2 against relegation-threatened El Gaish with Tunisian Amor Layouni levelling eight minutes from time.

Ahly have 53 points, Zamalek 38, Pyramids 36 and Al Mokawloon Al Arab 34 in the strongest league in the continent judged by Confederation of African Football (CAF) titles.

MOROCCO

Raja Casablanca won 2-0 at lowly Hassania Agadir and extended an unbeaten run to six matches since play resumed last month after a suspension since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The leaders needed just three minutes to break the deadlock in southern Morocco with Soufiane Rahimi scoring and Hamid Ahaddad added a second goal soon after half-time.

Raja have won four matches and drawn two since the resumption, and the 14-point haul has propelled them to the top of the table with nine rounds remaining.

The three-time African champions have 42 points, arch-rivals Wydad Casablanca 40, Renaissance Berkane 39 and FUS Rabat and Mouloudia Oujda 36 each.

TUNISIA

Leaders Esperance snatched a 1-1 draw at Etoile Sahel in the biggest matchday 20 attraction of the Tunisian Ligue Professionnelle 1.

Karim Aribi gave fourth-place Etoile a 19th-minute lead they held until the third minute of additional time when Taha Yassine Khenissi equalised.

Ivorian Chris Kouakou netted after 14 minutes to earn second-place CS Sfaxien a 1-0 home victory over mid-table Soliman.

Esperance have 50 points with six rounds remaining as they chase a fourth straight title, Sfaxien 40, Monastir 39, Etoile 34 and Club Africain 33.
ZANZIBAR

Mlandege have been crowned champions in the semi-autonomous region of Tanzania, garnering 68 points from 30 matches to finish one point above Zimamoto.

It was the seventh title for the club, but the first since 2002, and success qualifies them for a maiden CAF Champions League appearance next season.

Zimamoto trounced Kapinga 4-0 in the final round while JKU came third after drawing 1-1 with Malindi.

Defending champions KMKM had to settle for fourth spot, 12 points adrift of Mlandege, after a 2-2 draw against Mafunzo.

AFP

COVID-19 Cases In Africa Surpass One Million

A boy tries to wear a face mask as members of Coalition for grassroots human rights defenders Kenya (CGHRD'S Kenya) work for their food distribution, a bag contains 2kg of maize flour, 1kg each of sugar and rice, soap, tea, salt and a face mask, to vulnerable families that have lost their income in the menace of the COVID 19 coronavirus in Mathare slum, Nairobi, on April 25, 2020. Fredrik Lerneryd / AFP
A boy tries to wear a face mask as members of Coalition for grassroots human rights defenders Kenya (CGHRD’S Kenya) work for their food distribution, a bag contains 2kg of maize flour, 1kg each of sugar and rice, soap, tea, salt and a face mask, to vulnerable families that have lost their income in the menace of the COVID 19 coronavirus in Mathare slum, Nairobi, on April 25, 2020. Fredrik Lerneryd / AFP

 

Coronavirus has now infected more than one million people in Africa, but hopes that the pandemic may be peaking in some countries are mingled with fears of a second wave.

Nations across the continent have recorded 1,011,495 infections and at least 22,115 deaths, accounting for around five percent of global cases, according to an AFP tally as at 1100 GMT Friday.

Just five countries account for 75% of all cases, says the continent’s health watchdog the Africa Centres for Diseases Control.

Some countries have recently seen declines of around 20 percent in daily cases but it is too early to confirm this as a trend, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

“African countries are doing their best, despite… limitations,” such as weak health systems, Mary Stephen of the WHO Africa office, told AFP Friday.

She, however, warned against the public complacency that can develop in prolonged outbreaks.

“Because we don’t see many people like we used to see in Italy, like 1,000 people dying (a day), people tend to relax, they think the risk is not so much in Africa”.

“We need to avoid complacency,” she said in a phone interview from Brazzaville.

Countries with high infections relative to the size of their populations include South Africa, Djibouti, Gabon, Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe.  East African nations Rwanda and Uganda have managed to significantly slow down transmission, while Mauritius has flattened the curve.

Here is an overview of key countries:

South Africa

The continent’s most industrialised economy has notched up more than 538,184 infections, more than half of the continental caseload, and the fifth biggest in the world.

Numbers of daily infections have slightly decreased in recent days to below 10,000 cases — compared to an average 12,000 during much of July.

A boy wears a face mask as a preventive measure against the spred of the COVID-19 coronavirus as he queues outside Makro in Soweto, Johannesburg, on March 24, 2020. MARCO LONGARI / AFP
A boy wears a face mask as a preventive measure against the spred of the COVID-19 coronavirus as he queues outside Makro in Soweto, Johannesburg, on March 24, 2020. MARCO LONGARI / AFP

 

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Tuesday that cases in the epicentre, the commercial hub of Gauteng province, appeared to be plateauing.

But he warned “we are not out of the woods yet” as the risk of a second wave remained.

South Africa imposed one of the world’s toughest lockdowns in March, including a ban on sales of alcohol and cigarettes. The restrictions have been progressively eased since June.

The country has some of the best healthcare facilities on the continent, but the World Health Organisation (WHO) this week deployed 43 experts to “strengthen” the nation’s response to the pandemic.

Its problems include more than 24,000 infected health workers — a tally bigger than the national caseload of many other African countries.

Egypt

Egypt became the first African country to report a coronavirus case on February 14. So far, it has officially registered the continent’s second highest number of cases at 95,006, including 4,630 deaths.

Numbers of daily new infections have recently been falling steadily. From an average of 1,500 previously, new cases plunged below 200 this week.

An Egyptian man who recovered from Covid-19 donates blood at the National Blood Transfusion centre in Cairo on July 22, 2020. Khaled DESOUKI / AFP
An Egyptian man who recovered from Covid-19 donates blood at the National Blood Transfusion centre in Cairo on July 22, 2020.
Khaled DESOUKI / AFP

 

Jihane al-Assal, who heads the government’s anti-coronavirus scientific panel, told a TV talk show “Egypt has passed the peak of the pandemic”.

At the weekend she announced the gradual closure of isolation hospitals, while assuring that the government was “preparing” for a potential second wave of the pandemic.

However, the country’s health system has been severely strained and came close to “collapsing”, according to the doctors’ union, which recorded at least 134 deaths among its members due to COVID-19.

A curfew imposed in March was lifted at the end of June.

Regular domestic and international air traffic resumed on July 1 and tourism, a key income generator for Egypt, is slowly picking up.

Nigeria

Around 45,244 cases have been recorded in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, as well as more than 930 deaths.

In June, the caseload rose each day by between 500 and 800 but the pace has dropped more recently to between 300 and 400.

Authorities say they are also gearing up for a likely second wave as restrictions are eased.

A man wash hands with sanitiser as he arrives at a Mosque following reopening of Mosques and lifting of restrictions on religious gatherings by the government as part of a set of measures taken to curtail the spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus at the Secretariat Community Central Mosque, Alausa in Lagos, on August 7, 2020. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP
A man wash hands with sanitiser as he arrives at a Mosque following reopening of Mosques and lifting of restrictions on religious gatherings by the government as part of a set of measures taken to curtail the spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus at the Secretariat Community Central Mosque, Alausa in Lagos, on August 7, 2020. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

 

“New rise in cases are to be expected,” said the chief of the presidential task force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha.

Nigeria carries out only 3,000 tests per day, about a tenth of the number in South Africa, which has a much smaller population of 58 million.

The disease epicentre in the country is the commercial hub of Lagos with a population of 20 million. The authorities are loosening lockdown restrictions, allowing churches and mosques to re-open.

Algeria

Algerians spent a bleak Eid-al-Adha festival under a strict lockdown that discouraged family visits and banned movement into or out of 29 of the country’s 48 wilayas (prefectures).

The nation is the fifth worst-hit in Africa in terms of infections — a surge in the past few weeks has brought the total to over 33,626.

A man waits outside the Sidi Mohamed tribunal in the Algerian capital Algiers where the trial of detained journalist Khaled Drareni began, on August 3, 2020. RYAD KRAMDI / AFP
A man waits outside the Sidi Mohamed tribunal in the Algerian capital Algiers half-wearing a mask on August 3, 2020. RYAD KRAMDI / AFP

 

Algeria has the continent’s third highest number of fatalities at 1,273, after South Africa and Egypt.

The pandemic has taken a huge toll on the country’s economy, which is also impacted by the collapse in fossil-fuel prices.

Ethiopia

Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country, has seen a sharp upward trend with infections doubling in less than three weeks in July.

It has so far recorded more than 20,900 cases and over 365 deaths.

Doctors in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) prepare to take care of patients infected by the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) at Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the makeshift hospital installed inside Millenium Hall, one of the country's largest event center, in Addis Ababa, on August 3, 2020. AMANUEL SILESHI / AFP
Doctors in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) prepare to take care of patients infected by the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) at Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the makeshift hospital installed inside Millenium Hall, one of the country’s largest event center, in Addis Ababa, on August 3, 2020.
AMANUEL SILESHI / AFP

 

The figures are small relative to a population of 110 million, but the WHO frets unrest sparked by the killing of a pop star from the Oromo ethnic group could further accelerate transmission.

The upward spiral is coinciding with mounting signs of virus fatigue.

Once-ubiquitous hand-washing stations are becoming scarcer, hitherto-empty restaurants are filling up, and even some health workers say they are struggling to maintain the same vigilance they had in March.

Around three-quarters of all COVID-19 cases in Ethiopia are in the capital Addis Ababa.

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is among the countries where daily infections are steadily rising: numbers of diagnosed cases doubled over 10 days last month and now stand at 4,395 including 97 fatalities.

The impoverished country is in a particularly precarious position.

Beds are set for patients who are infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Martini hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia, on July 29, 2020. STR / AFP
Beds are set for patients who are infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Martini hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia, on July 29, 2020.
STR / AFP

 

The health system is struggling with shortages of basic drugs and equipment, as well as overburdened and underpaid staff.

Nurses countrywide have been on a go-slow for months demanding improved pay and coronavirus protective gear. They have since been joined by senior and junior doctors.

Burying a minister who died from COVID-19, President Emmerson Mnangagwa pleaded with health workers to act responsibly, promising their grievances will be addressed but not “at the expense of the loss of lives”.

“When the pandemic spreads and the death toll rises there are no winners, none at all. We all die,” he said.

 

AFP

Nearly 1 Million People Infected With COVID-19 In Africa

File photo: A man sprays commuters with hand sanitiser as a preventive measures at Wanderers taxi rank in Johannesburg CBD, on March 18, 2020. Michele Spatari / AFP.

 

 

Almost one million people have been infected with COVID-19 in Africa, according to data from the Africa Centre Control (CDC).

The agency said as of Sunday, August 2, 2020, the 55-nation Africa Union (AU) has 944,450 infections from the virus.

Despite the rising infections from COVID-19,  more than half of those who contracted the virus – 602,578 – have recovered, the data further revealed.

However,  about 19,920 persons have died from complications from the pandemic.

A region-by-region breakdown of the disease, indicates that Southern Africa has the highest number of COVID-19 cases – 526, 870 – out of which 8, 642 have death and 352, 233 recoveries.

Central Africa remains the least infected region on the continent having reported 48, 897 cases, 941 deaths and 34, 212 recovered persons.

 

 

Of the number of COVID-19 related deaths in Africa, the Africa CDC latest data shows that Southern Africa has the highest figure – 8, 642 – followed by the Northern – 6, 694.

Even though the central region of Africa with nine nations has one of the lowest infections level from the pandemic (48,897), less than a thousand persons – 941 – have died due to complications from the disease.

The region, as of the today, has 34, 212 recoveries, which is a recovery rate of about 70 per cent.

 

Image

 

In West Africa, Nigeria has the lion share of COVID-19 infections  – 43,537 –  after 386 more cases were confirmed on Saturday evening.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) noted that four more persons have died from the virus as recovery numbers hit 20,087 and 883 deaths reported.

 

 

A breakdown of COVID-19 cases across the country, as of August 1st, 2020. Designer: Benjamin Oluwatoyin/Channels TV

 

Since the outbreak of the disease in Africa on February 14th in Egypt, the World Health Organization (WHO) Africa, said more than 10, 000 health workers have been infected with the virus.

According to WHO Africa Region Director, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the number of infected health workers in Africa is more than 5% of cases in 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

“More than 10, 000 health workers in the 40 countries which have reported on such infections have been infected with COVID-19 so far, a sign of the challenges medical staff on the frontlines of the outbreak face,” the agency said in a post on its website.

COVID-19 Epicentre

 

South Africa, the worst-hit in Africa – 503, 290 cases which is more than half the continent’s infections – have reimposed a lockdown it lifted to strengthening an economy largely affected by the pandemic.

 

File photo: A man sprays commuters with hand sanitiser as a preventive measures at Wanderers taxi rank in Johannesburg CBD, on March 18, 2020. Michele Spatari / AFP.

 

“As we head towards the peak of infections, it is vital that we do not burden our clinics and hospitals with alcohol-related injuries that could have been avoided,”  President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a televised address to the nation on July 12.

IMF Assistance 

 

Just last week, the International Monetary Fund on Monday said it had approved $4.3 billion in aid to South Africa to help it fight the coronavirus pandemic.

 

In this file photo an exterior view of the building of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with the IMG logo, is seen on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP
In this file photo an exterior view of the building of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with the IMG logo, is seen on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

“The IMF approved $4.3 billion in emergency financial assistance under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) to support the authorities’ efforts in addressing the challenging health situation and severe economic impact of the COVID-19 shock,” the Washington-based crisis lender said in a statement.

Thousands Of Migrants Dying On Trek Across Africa – UN

File photo: Illegal migrants of different African nationalities arrive at a naval base in the capital Tripoli on April 22, 2018, after they were rescued off the coast of Zlitan from two inflatable boats.  MAHMUD TURKIA / AFP

 

 

 

Thousands of migrants have died after suffering “extreme” abuse while crossing Africa, according to a UN report on Wednesday that estimated 72 people perish each month on the continent’s routes.

There has been considerable focus on the thousands lost at sea while trying to cross from Africa to Europe, but a new report found that routes from West and East Africa up towards the Mediterranean can be equally perilous.

Entitled “On this journey, no one cares if you live or die”, the report published jointly by the UN refugee agency and the Danish Refugee Council’s Mixed Migration Centre (MMC) details horrific realities many face along the way.

Most migrants making such journeys experience or witness “unspeakable brutality and inhumanity” by smugglers, traffickers, militias and sometimes state actors, the UNHCR said.

In 2018 and 2019 alone, at least 1,750 people died, corresponding to an average of 72 a month or more than two deaths each day, “making it one of the most deadly routes for refugees and migrants in the world,” the report found.

“For too long, the harrowing abuses experienced by refugees and migrants along these overland routes have remained largely invisible,” UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi said in the statement.

The report, he said, documents “killings and widespread violence of the most brutal nature, perpetrated against desperate people fleeing war, violence and persecution.”

Nearly a third of those who die along these overland routes tried to cross the Sahara desert. Others perished in the south of war-ravaged Libya, while another deadly route crosses conflict-ridden Central African Republic and Mali.

– ‘Appalling conditions’ –

Those who survive are often left severely traumatised.

This is particularly true for the many who pass through Libya, where random killings, torture, forced labour and beatings are widespread, the report found.

Tens of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers, often sub-Saharan African and Asian migrants hoping to make it across the Mediterranean, have been stranded in chaos-wracked Libya, now a key route for illicit migration to Europe.

 

migrants
Refugees stand at a makeshift camp before being evicted by French police, in Aubervilliers, near Paris, on July 29, 2020. Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

 

 

And many of those who try to cross the Mediterranean are stopped and turned back by the Libyan coastguard.

More than 6,200 refugees were forced to disembark in Libya so far this year alone, the report said, stressing that many are then detained in “appalling conditions”.

Women and girls, but also men and boys, face a high risk of rape and other sexual abuse along the various routes, in particular at checkpoints, in border areas and during desert crossings, the report found.

Smugglers were the main perpetrators in North and East Africa, while in West Africa police and security forces were held responsible for a quarter of the reported sexual assaults.

Around a third of those who reported witnessing or surviving sexual violence said it had occurred in more than one location.

“Strong leadership and concerted action are needed by states in the region, with support from the international community, to end these cruelties, protect the victims and prosecute the criminals responsible,” Grandi said.

AFP