Brazil Coronavirus Death Toll Crosses 100,000

In this file photo taken on May 30, 2020 gravediggers wearing protective clothing carry the coffin of a victim of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 for its burial at the Recanto da Paz Municipal Cemetery in the city of Breves, southwest of Marajo Island, an island at the mouth of the Amazon River in the Brazilian state of Para,Brazil. Tarso SARRAF / AFP
In this file photo taken on May 30, 2020 gravediggers wearing protective clothing carry the coffin of a victim of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 for its burial at the Recanto da Paz Municipal Cemetery in the city of Breves, southwest of Marajo Island, an island at the mouth of the Amazon River in the Brazilian state of Para,Brazil. Tarso SARRAF / AFP

 

 

Brazil on Saturday surpassed 100,000 coronavirus deaths and three million cases of infection, crossing the grim milestone after President Jair Bolsonaro said he had a “clear conscience” on his response to the outbreak.

With 100,477 fatalities and 3,012,412 confirmed cases, the South American nation of 212 million people is the second hardest-hit country in the global pandemic, after the United States.

The health ministry reported 905 new deaths in the past 24 hours, as well as 49,970 fresh cases.

 

FIile photo: A researcher works at the special techniques laboratory where a genetic test was developed to diagnose the new coronavirus, COVID-19, at Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on May 28, 2020. NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP

 

But the official figures are most likely an undercount, with experts estimating that the total number of infections could be up to six times higher due to insufficient testing.

Brazil has seen 478 deaths per million people, a figure roughly equivalent to that of the United States (487), but lower than that of Spain (609) or Italy (583).

Senate speaker Davi Alcolumbre announced four days of mourning in Congress to pay tribute to the country’s 100,000-plus virus victims.

The coronavirus outbreak in Brazil is showing no sign of slowing as it enters its sixth month.

The country’s first confirmed COVID-19 case was identified in Sao Paulo on February 26, with the first death on March 12, also in the city.

Brazil marked 50,000 deaths a hundred days later, but then doubled that total in just half the time.

Infections have accelerated in recent weeks in the countryside as well as inland regions and areas where the virus was late arriving, particularly the country’s south and center-west.

In southeastern states such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, hardest-hit by the virus in absolute numbers, the situation has stabilized, while the virus’ presence has declined in northern regions after reaching catastrophic levels in April and May.

– ‘Arrogance’ –

At Copacabana beach in Rio, activists from the NGO Rio de Paz released 1,000 red balloons Saturday while standing between 100 black crosses stuck in the sand, in a tribute to Brazilians who have died of coronavirus.

Former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Bolsonaro’s leftist nemesis, on Twitter denounced “the arrogance of a president who has chosen to describe this cruel virus as a little flu, defying science and even death, and who bears in his soul the responsibility for all the lives lost.”

The contagion has cast a harsh light on Brazil’s inequalities, with the virus wreaking particular havoc on the country’s favelas and hitting black populations especially hard.

The country’s indigenous Amazon populations have also been hard hit, with one of Brazil’s leading chiefs, 71-year-old Aritana Yawalapiti, dying Wednesday of respiratory complications caused by COVID-19.

 

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gestures as he speaks to supporters outside Alvorada Palace in Brasilia, on July 22, 2020. EVARISTO SA / AFP
File photo: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gestures as he speaks to supporters outside Alvorada Palace in Brasilia, on July 22, 2020. EVARISTO SA / AFP

Bolsonaro’s government, which has been criticized for managing the epidemic in a chaotic fashion, is on its third health minister since the virus reached the country.

The right-wing leader, who tested positive for the virus last month but has since recovered, said Thursday he had “a clear conscience” and had done “everything possible to save lives.”

Bolsonaro also called the governors of states that took containment measures which he opposed for economic reasons “dictators.”

Brazil resumed its national football championship on Saturday, three months behind schedule.

AFP

Nigeria Confirms Three More Deaths As COVID-19 Infections Cross 45, 000

File photo: A health worker takes a swab from a woman during a community COVID-19 coronavirus testing campaign in Abuja on April 15, 2020.  Kola Sulaimon / AFP

 

 

Nigeria on Thursday reported three more deaths from COVID-19 as the country’s infections from the virus crossed 45, 000.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) which revealed the latest figure, also said the West African nation had 354 fresh COVID-19 cases for the day.

Nigeria’s latest COVID-19 infections were confirmed in 16 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), taking the country’s tally to 45,244.

READ ALSO: ‘Vaccine Nationalism’ Cannot Beat COVID-19, Says WHO

A breakdown of the new infections from the virus indicated that the FCT had the highest number of fresh cases – 78 – and is followed by the country’s COVID-19 epicentre, Lagos – 76 – and  Kaduna-23.

Other states with confirmed cases of COVID-19 include Ebonyi – 19; Oyo – 18;  Nasarawa – 17;  Rivers – 17; Delta -16; Kwara – 15; Akwa Ibom – 13; Edo – 12 and Ogun -12.

Plateau – 11; Kano – 9; Bauchi – 6 ; Borno – 6 and Ekiti  -6, reported the remaining COVID-19 cases for Thursday.

Although 32,430 persons who contracted the virus have been successfully treated and discharged, 930 deaths have so far been confirmed, according to the NCDC data.

 

Lagos State, so far, has the highest number of infections from the disease with 15,627 cases, 13,119 discharges and 192 deaths, followed by the FCT  – 4,241 confirmed infections.

Not Yet Uhuru

Despite the declining daily infections in the country, the NCDC has told Nigerians not to abandon some of the protocols in place to curb the spread of the pandemic.

The Director General of the agency, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu who said this during the briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, reiterated that Nigeria has not flattened the curve yet.

According to him, the reduced number of infections is due to a slump in the samples collected from different states.

 

File photo of homemade protective face masks. Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP.

 

The PTF had also, during the briefing, said President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the extension of the second phase of the eased lockdown for another four weeks.

This extension is the third for the second phase of lockdown currently observed across the country.

Global Outlook

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 585,750 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1900 GMT on Thursday.

At least 13,660,780 cases of coronavirus have been registered in 196 countries and territories. Of these, at least 7,442,700 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections.

Many countries are testing only symptomatic or the most serious cases.

Since 1900 GMT on Wednesday, 5,604 new deaths and 236,985 new cases were recorded worldwide. The countries with the most new deaths were Brazil with 1,233 new deaths, followed by United States with 997, and India with 606.

File photo: People walk at the sea front after the government eased a lockdown imposed as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Mumbai on June 8, 2020. (Photo by Punit PARANJPE / AFP)

 

The United States is the worst-hit country with 137,897 deaths from 3,536,658 cases. At least 1,075,882 people have been declared recovered.

After the US, the hardest-hit countries are Brazil with 75,366 deaths from 1,966,748 cases, United Kingdom with 45,119 deaths from 2,925,52 cases, Mexico with 36,906 deaths from 317,635 cases, and Italy with 35,017 deaths from 243,736 cases.

The country with the highest number of deaths compared to its population is Belgium with 84 fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by United Kingdom with 66, Spain 61, Italy 58, and Sweden 55.

China — excluding Hong Kong and Macau — has to date declared 83,612 cases (1 new since Wednesday), including 4,634 deaths and 78,719 recoveries.

 

Buhari Approves Extension Of Eased COVID-19 Lockdown By Four Weeks

The SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha, addressing reporters at the PTF briefing in Abuja on July 27, 2020.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the extension of the second phase of the eased lockdown for another four weeks.

This extension is the third for the second phase of lockdown currently observed across the country.

Mr Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 disclosed this during the Task Force briefing in Abuja on Thursday.

The task force had met with President Buhari on Wednesday and briefed him on the progress made so far in containing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping citizens safe from contracting the virus.

READ ALSO: US Adds 1,262 Virus Deaths In 24 Hours – Johns Hopkins

Boss Mustapha while addressing newsmen today noted that the PTF made some recommendations to the president and the extension of the current ease of lockdown was one of the inferences approved.

The PTF chairman further disclosed that to sustain gains already made in the last few weeks, the task force recommended to President Buhari to retain the current phase of the response, with minor changes to address economic, socio-political, and health concerns.

According to him, the major changes being proposed are aimed at achieving the gradual re-opening of international air flights within established parameters. re-opening of rail transportation within established parameters, and the granting of permissions to exit classes to resume ahead of examinations.

Under the revised guidelines of the eased lockdown which will be maintained in the next four weeks, the current nationwide curfew from 10pm- 6am still stands.

Also, meetings for government officials and parastatals will continue to hold virtually.

While the ban on entertainment centers will be maintained, restrictions on recreational parks have been lifted for non-contact physical activities.

Passengers arriving for domestic flights can now arrive at least an hour and a half before flight, and three hours before the flight for international travelers.

The SGF however, reemphasized the need for everyone to take responsibility, and stop the stigmatization of persons who have contracted, been treated, and have been certified negative for COVID-19.

Canadian Pastor Jailed In Myanmar For Defying Coronavirus Ban

Canadian pastor David Lah, speaks to the media outside a township court in Yangon on August 6, 2020, accused of holding a church service amid restrictions in place to halt the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. – A Canadian preacher who claimed Christians were safe from coronavirus was on August 6 jailed for three months in Myanmar after he and dozens of his followers became infected when he held a banned service. (Photo by Sai Aung Main / AFP)

 

A Canadian preacher who claimed Christians were safe from coronavirus was on Thursday jailed for three months in Myanmar after he and dozens of his followers became infected when he held a banned service.

The Southeast Asian nation has so far weathered the pandemic well with just 357 confirmed cases and six deaths, although the low numbers tested make many fear the true figures are far higher.

Toronto-based David Lah, 43, was born in Myanmar and often returns to his motherland to preach.

The country imposed a ban on gatherings in mid-March, but footage emerged in early April of Lah holding a service in Yangon.

“If people hold the Bible and Jesus in their hearts, the disease will not come in,” he proclaimed in one video to a roomful of faithful.

“The only person who can cure and give peace in this pandemic is Jesus.”

 

A police vehicle carrying Canadian pastor David Lah arrives at a township court for a hearing in Yangon on August 6, 2020, accused of holding a church service amid restrictions in place to halt the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.(Photo by Sai Aung Main / AFP)

Lah tested positive for coronavirus shortly afterwards, and dozens of confirmed cases were traced back to his followers.

The preacher was arrested after recovering from the illness in May and faced up to three years in jail for violating the Natural Disaster and Management Law.

On Thursday, however, a Yangon court chose to be lenient.

Lah and his colleague Wai Tun had been sentenced to three months imprisonment, Lah’s lawyer Aung Kyi Win told reporters outside the court, adding that time already served would be deducted.

A waiting crowd of the preacher’s followers erupted into cheers and celebrations at the news.

The scandal even touched Myanmar’s Christian vice-president Henry Van Thio and his family, who had attended an earlier service with Lah in February, although they later tested negative.

About six percent of Buddhist-majority Myanmar’s population identifies as one of the various Christian denominations in the country.

 

-AFP

In Coronavirus-Hit Mexico, Feeding Orphans Takes A ‘Miracle’

A 10-year-old boy works placing crosses at the San Miguel Xico cementery on August 5, 2020, amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by PEDRO PARDO / AFP)

 

 

At an orphanage in pandemic-stricken Mexico, the nuns water down milk and eke out food for the children — victims of violence, poverty, and now the economic fallout from the coronavirus.

Even before donations began drying up because of the disease, it was a struggle for Mother Ines de Maria Piedras and her sisters to keep the shelter located in Texcoco, in central Mexico, running.

Now the Casa Hogar San Martin De Porres y Juan XXIII is facing a critical situation.

Largely dependent on state resources that were already insufficient before the virus struck, the orphanage has lost several benefactors due to the pandemic.

“Many of them were left without work, so they stopped their donations until further notice,” Mother Ines told AFP.

Since 1965 the shelter has welcomed children who have suffered from mistreatment, sexual abuse or the sudden disappearance of their parents.

Currently 65 children and teenagers live there.

Due to sanitary measures prompted by the virus, the nuns cannot take in more children, or receive visitors from companies or groups that used to bring donations each Saturday.

A sign at the door says clothes and toys are no longer accepted, although some benefactors continue to leave what food they can spare.

“The situation worries us a lot because we have no economic security,” said Mother Ines, 52, standing in a small room full of toys.

– Scars of violence –
Most of the children at the orphanage are girls.

Some of those who have been there long enough to see their emotional wounds start to heal flash smiles, while nervous newer arrivals keep their heads down.

Many have been through traumatic times.

One girl’s father murdered her mother and buried her in the yard.

Two young twins were brought to the shelter after their mother simply disappeared.

Texcoco, where the shelter is located, is 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Ecatepec, considered the most dangerous town in the country for women.

So far this year, the authorities have recorded 473 suspected femicides across Mexico.

The State of Mexico, home to Texcoco, leads the way with 63 cases.

The children are referred to the orphanage by the authorities.

But the $1,500 a month they give the nuns to care for them all is barely a quarter of what is needed, said Mother Ines, wiping away her tears with her habit during a tour of the kitchen.

– ‘We perform miracles’  –
The situation has forced the nuns to take drastic measures, such as diluting the milk with one quarter water, said Barbara de la Rosa, the 37-year-old cook.

“We perform miracles!” she said.

The nuns draw drinking water from their homes because the well they rely on is drying up.

In the shelves for fruit and vegetables there are only a few kilos of potatoes, chayotes — a type of squash — and prickly pears, and some sausages in the refrigerator.

Outside, the twins play on the grass.

Here they learned to walk and uttered their first words, but they face an uncertain future.

With nearly 50,000 officially registered coronavirus deaths and around 450,000 cases, the country of 128.8 million has the world’s third-highest fatality toll from the pandemic.

The economy has buckled with an unprecedented plunge of more than 17 percent in gross domestic product (GDP) in the second quarter of the year.

More than 12 million jobs have been lost, particularly in the informal economy.

The nuns have launched an appeal for help and a campaign to raise funds was organized on social media.

But so far the response has been modest.

“It’s worrying,” said the cook.

Unless the situation improves, “it’s uncertain where the little ones will end up.”

Japan Marks 75th Anniversary Of Hiroshima Atomic Bomb

(FILES) This handout file picture taken on August 6, 1945 by the US Army and released via the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum shows a mushroom cloud of the atomic bomb dropped by the B-29 bomber Enola Gay over the city of Hiroshima.  (Photo by Handout / various sources / AFP)

 

 

Japan on Thursday marks 75 years since the world’s first atomic bomb attack, with the coronavirus pandemic forcing a scaling back of ceremonies to commemorate the victims.

Survivors, relatives and a handful of foreign dignitaries will attend this year’s main event in Hiroshima to pray for the victims and call for world peace.

But the general public will be kept away, with the ceremony instead broadcast online.

 

74-year-old Jiro Hamasumi, whose mother was pregnant with him in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb struck in 1945, points at the hypocentre of the bombing and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome) on a map. (Photo by Behrouz MEHRI / AFP)

 

Other events, including a gathering to float lanterns along the Motoyasu River, have been cancelled as coronavirus cases spike in parts of Japan.

The annual commemoration is “Hiroshima’s mission of calling on people across the world to work towards peace”, mayor Kazumi Matsui told reporters.

Participants will offer a silent prayer at 8:15 am (2315 GMT Wednesday), the exact time the first nuclear weapon deployed in wartime hit the city.

Around 140,000 people were killed, many of them instantly, with others perishing in the weeks and months that followed, suffering radiation sickness, devastating burns and other injuries.

Three days later the United States dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, where 74,000 people were killed.

 

People rest by the riverbank as ruins of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, now commonly known as the atomic bomb dome, is seen lit up in The evening in Hiroshima on August 5, 2020.  (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP)

 

‘Unspeakable horror’

The historical assessment of the bombings remains subject to some controversy. The United States has never apologised for the bombings, which many in the US see as having ended the war.

Japan announced its surrender just days later on August 15, 1945, and some historians argue the bombings ultimately saved lives by avoiding a land invasion that might have been significantly more deadly.

But in Japan, the attacks are widely regarded as war crimes because they targeted civilians indiscriminately and caused unprecedented destruction.

In 2016, Barack Obama became the first sitting US president to visit Hiroshima, where he offered no apology but embraced survivors and called for a world free of nuclear weapons.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were key stops on Pope Francis’s first trip to Japan last year, where he denounced the “unspeakable horror” of the attacks.

At Thursday’s ceremony, Hiroshima’s mayor and a representative of bereaved families will deliver remarks in front of a cenotaph inscribed with the names of victims.

Volunteers will then livestream a tour of buildings affected by the bombing, and share testimonies by two atomic bomb survivors as part of efforts to mark the anniversary despite the virus.

The pandemic stalking the globe carries an all-too-familiar fear for some survivors, including 83-year-old Keiko Ogura, who lived through the Hiroshima bombing.

With the outbreak of the virus, “I recall the fear I felt right after the bombing,” she told journalists last month.

“No one can escape.”

 

74-year-old Jiro Hamasumi, whose mother was pregnant with him in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb struck in 1945, poses next to a painting by Yoshiki Inada, bearing a fetus (Jiro Hamasumi) and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. (Genbaku Dome. (Photo by Behrouz MEHRI / AFP)

 

‘Solidarity among mankind’

The global nature of the threat requires a global solution, she said.

“Whether it’s the coronavirus or nuclear weapons, the way to overcome it is through solidarity among mankind.”

The landmark anniversary this year underscores the dwindling number of bomb survivors, known in Japan as “hibakusha”.

Those who remain were mostly infants or young children at the time, and their work to keep the memory of the bombings alive and call for a ban on nuclear weapons has taken on increasing urgency as they age.

Activists and survivors have created archives of everything from the recorded testimony of hibakusha to their poems and drawings.

But many fear interest in the bombings is fading as they recede beyond the horizon of lived experience and into history.

“Just storing a pile of records… is meaningless,” said Kazuhisa Ito, the secretary general of the Hibakusha Assembly of Memory Heritage, an NGO that compiles records and documents from survivors.

“What we want is to engage young people with this issue and exchange views with them, globally,” he told AFP.

 

 

-AFP

Large Sports Crowds ‘Unrealistic’ This Year – WHO

File photo: The empty stadium is pictured ahead of the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium in London on July 15, 2020. Glyn KIRK / POOL / AFP

 

 

The World Health Organization said Wednesday it was “unrealistic” to expect large crowds at sports events this year in countries suffering from community-level transmission of the new coronavirus.

WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan said it could be “disastrous” in such circumstances to allow the return of sports matches with tens of thousands of people attending.

Asked in a live WHO social media chat when major sports events could come back, Ryan said it was impossible to predict.

japan-baseball
File photo: About 5,000 photo panels of the Yokohama DeNA BayStars fan are displayed amid empty stadium seating during the Japanese professional baseball match between DeNA and Hiroshima at the Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, Kanagawa prefecture on June 19, 2020. STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP

 

“We don’t know,” the Irish epidemiologist said.

“Large crowds of 40, 50, 60,000 people — it’s not just the risk of being in the stadium, it’s the risk of going to the stadium, the public transport, the bars and the clubs,” he explained.

“Imagine all the problems we have now with nightclubs and bars, and you squeeze all of that together into a four- or five-hour experience, where thousands of people go on the same public transport to a venue, get involved in the social aspects before a game, be involved in the game and then all of the social aspects after.

“In the context of community transmission, that could be disastrous.”

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the 2020 European football championships have been postponed until next year, while major football tournaments like Europe’s Champions League and the English Premier League have been forced behind closed doors.

“We may have to expect that as things open up, we go from having no-one at the games to maybe 1,000 and 2,000,” said Ryan.

“We all want our sport back. We’re just going to have to be careful for a good bit longer.

“It’s very unrealistic in countries with community transmission that we’re going to be seeing large gatherings like that this year.

“Right now, it’s hard to see those fully re-opened venues.”

AFP

Sony Net Profit Jumps 53.3% In Q1 But Virus Clouds Annual Outlook

Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida arrives to take part in a press conference at the Sony headquarters in Tokyo on May 22, 2018. PHOTO: Martin BUREAU / AFP

Sony said Tuesday its net profit surged 53.3 percent in the first quarter, but warned annual profits were likely to see double-digit falls as the coronavirus pandemic continues to cloud the forecast.

The PlayStation giant said net profit for the April-June quarter reached 233.25 billion yen ($2.2 billion), with “significant increases” in its game and network services and financial services segments.

The surge was also helped by a strong performance in equities, which pushed up the firm’s pre-tax income.

Operating profit, however, slipped 1.1 percent to 228.39 billion yen on sales of 1.97 trillion yen, up 2.2 percent.

While global demand for games downloads spiked this year as lockdowns forced people to stay at home, the pandemic has brought a string of negative factors for Sony, including a slump in manufacturing, music event cancellations and movie theatre shutdowns.

“Lockdowns have continued affecting Sony’s production lines while hitting hard sales of its electronics products and at theatre-release movies,” Hideki Yasuda, an analyst at Ace Research Institute in Tokyo, told AFP ahead of the results.

“It was quite a tough quarter for Sony, as negative factors outnumbered positive ones. Sony is still expected to recover gradually for the rest of the fiscal year but on the condition that a major second wave of the pandemic doesn’t emerge.”

If there is a serious resurgence of the virus, “it will be a different story,” Yasuda warned.

It warned annual net profit for the year to March would drop 12.4 percent to 510 billion yen, with annual operating profit dropping 26.7 percent to 620 billion yen,.

Annual sales are seen edging up 0.5 percent to 8.3 trillion yen.

The much-anticipated next version of the PlayStation is expected later this year, which analysts say has helped to sustain the firm’s share price.

During the April-June period, the company’s mainstay game segment saw sales rise 32 percent thanks to robust demand for titles and related services, with the segment’s annual sales also on course to rise 26 percent.

But the news elsewhere was less positive, with sales falling 12 percent in the music division and six percent in the movie segment.

The firm’s electronics products business registered a whopping 31-percent plunge in sales, hit by the pandemic and unfavourable foreign exchange rates.

For the year ahead, much is riding on how the PS5 performs, Yasuda told AFP.

“But it’s too early to assess the new console’s popularity. No one can predict precisely how it will perform before its launch.”

-AFP

‘No Silver Bullet’ For Virus, WHO Warns, As Cases Top 18m

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a press conference organised by the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus, on July 3, 2020 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. Fabrice COFFRINI / POOL / AFP
File photo: World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a press conference organised by the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus, on July 3, 2020 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. Fabrice COFFRINI / POOL / AFP

 

 

The World Health Organization said Monday it had completed the groundwork in China to probe the origins of the new coronavirus — as it warned there might never be a “silver bullet” for COVID-19.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged governments and citizens to focus on known basic steps to suppress the pandemic, such as testing, contact tracing, maintaining physical distance and wearing a mask.

“We all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection,” Tedros told a virtual press conference.

“However, there’s no silver bullet at the moment — and there might never be.

“The basics of public health” are most effective for now, Tedros added, saying that wearing a mask in particular was sending a “powerful message to those around you that we are all in this together”.

Infections are surging in some countries around the world, but Tedros insisted that however bad the situation was, past examples such as South Korea showed it could be turned around.

“When leaders step up and work intensely with their populations, this disease can be brought under control,” he said.

– China mission –

The novel coronavirus has killed nearly 690,000 people and infected at least 18.1 million since the outbreak emerged in Wuhan in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP.

The WHO began pressing China in early May to invite in its experts to help investigate the animal origins of COVID-19.

 

 

Handout picture released by the Sao Paulo State Government press office showing a volunteer receiving the COVID-19 vaccine during the trial stage of the vaccine produced by the Chinese company Sinovac Biotech at the Hospital das Clinicas (HC) in Sao Paulo state, Brazil, on July 21, 2020.  Handout / Sao Paulo State Government / AFP

 

The UN health agency sent an epidemiologist and an animal health specialist to Beijing on July 10 to lay the groundwork for a probe aimed at identifying how the virus entered the human species.

Their scoping mission is now complete, said Tedros.

“The WHO advance team that travelled to China has now concluded their mission,” he said.

Tedros said WHO and Chinese experts had agreed the terms of reference and a programme of work for a WHO-led international team of scientists and researchers from around the world.

“Epidemiological studies will begin in Wuhan to identify the potential source of infection of the early cases,” he said.

– Working backwards –

Scientists believe the killer virus jumped from animals to humans, possibly from a market in the city of Wuhan selling exotic animals for meat.

WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan paid tribute to the work already done by Chinese experts but stressed that the search for the disease’s origin would require much deeper study.

“There are gaps in the epidemiologic landscape, and what is required is going to be a much more extensive, retrospective epidemiologic study to look at those first cases and clusters in Wuhan and to fully understand the links between those cases,” he said.

From there, “we can then determine at what point, in Wuhan or elsewhere, the animal-species barrier was breached.”

Ryan said that without detailed investigations, the search would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

“The real trick is to go to the human clusters that occurred first and then to work your way back, systematically looking for that first signal” where the virus jumped species, the Irish epidemiologist said.

AFP

FCT Leads Daily COVID-19 Cases As Nigeria Reports 481 Fresh Infections

The FCT is one of Nigeria’s COVID-19 hotbeds. Designer: Channels TV/Benjamin Oluwatoyin.

 

 

Nigeria’s COVID-19 cases have continued to rise as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Thursday confirmed 96 fresh cases to top the country’s daily infections from the virus.

Lagos State which is the country’s COVID-19 epicentre, trails the FCT with 89 new COVID-19 infections out of the 481 cases reported for the day, according to the latest data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

READ ALSO: Zimbabwe Minister Shiri Died Of Coronavirus, Says President

The new data from the agency equally indicated that Nigeria’s total COVID-19 infections now stand at 42,689 with fourteen states in the country and the FCT confirming fresh cases from the pandemic.

 

A further peep into NCDC’s new figures showed that the newly-infected persons were also found as follows: Plateau – 68; Ogun – 49; Edo – 44; Rivers – 43; Oyo – 25; Osun – 23; Delta – 15; and  Enugu – 11.

Others are Kano – 7; Kaduna – 7; Bauchi – 2; Bayelsa – 1, and Yobe -1.

Since the outbreak of the disease in late February, 19,270 persons infected with the virus have been successfully treated and discharged, the NCDC data revealed, with 878 deaths reported.

Image
A table showing Nigeria’s COVID-19 cases.

WASSCE Candidates Get Waiver

 

Although the COVID-19 infection rate has continued to soar in the West African nation, the economy is gradually being reopened just as students in exiting classes have been mandated to resume school on August 3rd, 2020.

On Thursday and in line with the Federal Government’s directive, the Taraba government asked graduating students in secondary schools in the state to resume on August 4.

It explained that this was to enable the students revise for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC).

Riot Act

As various state governments in the country take measures to curtail the spread of the virus, the Ogun Government has read the riot act to residents of the State.

 

File photo: Homemade protective face masks are prepared by Sarah, a 45-year-old volunteer, who sews face masks to be distributed to people in need, at her home in Vincennes, eastern suburbs of Paris, on May 7, 2020, on the 52nd day of a strict lockdown in France to stop the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). – (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)

 

Those who do not put on face masks could earn up to six months jail term, the governor, Dapo Abiodun said on Thursday.

‘Devastating Impacts’ 

 

Earlier in his Sallah message to Nigerians, President Muhammadu Buhari reminded citizens to obey the COVID-19 protocols as they celebrate the season.

 

Muhammadu-Buhari-in-the-Villa
File photo of President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

While admitting that the pandemic has had “devastating adverse impacts on our social, economic and spiritual lives,” the Nigerian leader asked “Muslims and other faithful to continue to show more understanding with the government.”

A World-Wide Pandemic

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 585,750 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1900 GMT on Thursday.

At least 13,660,780 cases of coronavirus have been registered in 196 countries and territories. Of these, at least 7,442,700 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections.

 

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a press conference organised by the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus, on July 3, 2020 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. Fabrice COFFRINI / POOL / AFP
File photo: World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a press conference organised by the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus, on July 3, 2020 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. Fabrice COFFRINI / POOL / AFP

 

Many countries are testing only symptomatic or the most serious cases.

Since 1900 GMT on Wednesday, 5,604 new deaths and 236,985 new cases were recorded worldwide. The countries with the most new deaths were Brazil with 1,233 new deaths, followed by United States with 997, and India with 606.

The United States is the worst-hit country with 137,897 deaths from 3,536,658 cases. At least 1,075,882 people have been declared recovered.

After the US, the hardest-hit countries are Brazil with 75,366 deaths from 1,966,748 cases, United Kingdom with 45,119 deaths from 2,925,52 cases, Mexico with 36,906 deaths from 317,635 cases, and Italy with 35,017 deaths from 243,736 cases.

The country with the highest number of deaths compared to its population is Belgium with 84 fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by United Kingdom with 66, Spain 61, Italy 58, and Sweden 55.

China — excluding Hong Kong and Macau — has to date declared 83,612 cases (1 new since Wednesday), including 4,634 deaths and 78,719 recoveries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sallah: Buhari Commends Muslims, Christians For Understanding Over COVID-19 Guidelines

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has commended Nigerians for their patience and understanding over the inconveniences created by precautionary measures put in place to curb the spread of the COVID-19.

He also reiterated his call on citizens to continue to exercise patience and understanding over the inconveniences, especially the regulations on places of worship.

In his Sallah message to Muslims on Thursday, ahead of the Eid-el-Kabir celebration, the President said the outbreak of the coronavirus has made it difficult for people to gather in places of worship as they are used to, urging worshipers to abide by the guidelines for safety of their lives, and loved ones.

“The coronavirus has had devastating adverse impacts on our social, economic and spiritual lives.

“The preventive guidelines we have introduced to contain the spread of this deadly disease have unfortunately limited people’s freedom to gather and worship in large numbers in Mosques and Churches.

“Every measure that has been introduced to contain this disease may have its unintended consequences on the daily lives of our people, and I, therefore, call on Muslims and other faithful to continue to show more understanding with the government as we take correct steps to protect our people through the social distancing,” the President said.

 

A vendor displays his ram for sale at a livestock market in Anagada, Niger State ahead of the Eid Al-Adha celebrations on July 30th, 2020. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun/ Channels Television

 

Read Also: [PHOTOS] Muslims Get Set For Eid El Kabir Celebrations

He added: “No elected government would intentionally take away its people’s religious freedom by limiting the number of people that will gather in worship centres at the same time.

“The guidelines are dictated by necessity in order to safeguard public health and should, therefore, not be perceived as infringement on people’s right to worship.”

Commended the sacrifices of Muslims and Christians in abiding by the COVID-19 guidelines for the good of society, the president gave the assurance that his administration would continue to provide economic reliefs to the people.

“On our own part, we shall continue to provide economic reliefs to the people to minimize the unintended hardships these guidelines have inflicted.”

The President also reminded worshippers that COVID-19 is a worldwide affliction which has forced places of worship around the world to be shut down.

While wishing Muslims a happy celebration, the President called on worshipers not to forget the symbolic significance of the sacrifices of the Eidel Kabir.

“Muslims should imbibe the noble virtues of our great prophets in order to establish closer connectivity between religious teachings and practice,” he said.

“We can create the greatest impact by putting into practice the noble teachings of our religion. In whatever we do in life, we must put the fear of God in our daily activities to make our society better.’’

Speaking further, the President reminded Nigerians of his efforts to root out corruption in the country, stating that the efforts had so far brought a lot of changes in the country’s polity.

He appealed for more support and understanding as investigations are carried out on both legacy and fresh cases.

Peru Says Over 900 Girls, Women Feared Dead Since Pandemic Began

A patient infected with COVID-19 waits for assistance outside the regional Honorio Delgado Hospital, in the Andean city of Arequipa, south of Peru on July 23, 2020. – The government issued an emergency decree allowing the Ministry of Health to intervene to mitigate the crisis situation caused by the increase in COVID-19 infections and victims. Peru exceeded 17,000 deaths from the coronavirus on Wednesday, adding 188 new cases and adding 3,688 deaths between March and June that had not been officially counted by health authorities, the government reported. (Photo by Diego RAMOS / AFP)

 

 

 

A staggering 900-plus girls and women are missing and feared dead in Peru since COVID-19 confinement began, authorities said Monday.

The Andean nation home to 33 million people long has had a horrific domestic violence problem.

But COVID-19, which has compounded home confinement combined with job losses and a health crisis, has seen an already scary situation grow worse in just 3-1/2 months, according to Eliana Revollar, who leads the women’s rights office of the National Ombudsman’s office.

Seventy percent of that figure are minors, she added.

“During the quarantine, from March 16 to June 30, 915 women in Peru were reported missing,” and feared dead, said Revollar.

Before COVID-19, five women were reported missing in Peru every single day; since the lockdown, the number has surged to eight per day.

Revollar said Peru’s situation was grim because the lack of a national missing persons registry made it hard for authorities to keep track of the crisis.

Walter Gutierrez, the ombudsman, told RPS Radio: “We need to know what has happened to them.”

Revollar said she would push for the creation of a missing persons registry.

Women’s rights groups and NGOs however say that very often police refuse to investigate domestic violence, make fun of victims, or claim that the missing have left their homes willingly.

But that doesn’t address the fact that Peru has a problem with domestic violence and other violence against women, as well as human trafficking and forced prostitution.

In January, the case of a university student and activist for women’s rights and safety, Solsiret Rodriguez, was in the headlines here — but only when her body was found three years after she went missing.

Last year there were 166 killings of women in Peru; just a tenth of those were cases of a person first being reported missing. And there were just under 30,000 calls to report domestic violence, according to the Women’s Ministry.

And coronavirus hasn’t spared Peru: it has had more than 384,000 coronavirus cases and 18,229 deaths. It is the third-hardest hit country in Latin America behind Brazil and Mexico.

 

 

 

-AFP