At Least 115,000 Health Workers Have Died From COVID-19  – WHO

In this file photo taken on March 11, 2020 shows World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attending a press briefing on COVID-19 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva.  Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

At least 115,000 health and care workers have died from Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, the WHO chief said Monday, calling for a dramatic scale-up of vaccination in all countries.

At the opening of the World Health Organization’s main annual assembly, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus hailed the sacrifices made by health workers around the world to battle the pandemic.

“For almost 18 months, health and care workers all over the world have stood in the breach between life and death,” he said.

“They have saved countless lives and fought for others who, despite their best efforts, slipped away.

“Many have themselves become infected, and while reporting is scant, we estimate that at least 115,000 health and care workers have paid the ultimate price in the service of others.”

READ ALSO: India Crosses 300,000 COVID-19 Deaths As ‘Black Fungus’ Spreads

He said many health workers have since the start of the crisis felt “frustrated, helpless and unprotected, with a lack of access to personal protective equipment and vaccines.”

And they are not alone. He described the overall inequity in access to vaccines as “scandalous”, warning it was “perpetuating the pandemic.”

More than 75 percent of all Covid-19 vaccines have gone to just 10 countries.

“The number of doses administered globally so far would have been enough to cover all health workers and older people if they had been distributed equitably,” he said.

“There is no diplomatic way to say it: that small group of countries that make and buy the majority of the world’s vaccines control the fate of the rest of the world.”

He urged those countries that have large stocks of vaccines to share them, and greater cooperation to scale up production and distribution of the jabs.

The WHO and others have created Covax, a global vaccine-sharing programme, but it remains severely underfunded and has faced significant supply shortages, delaying efforts to roll out jabs in poorer countries.

“We have shipped every single one of the 72 million doses we have been able to get our hands on so far to 125 countries and economies,” Tedros said.

But he lamented that those doses were only enough to barely cover one percent of the combined populations in those countries.

The WHO chief stressed the need to urgently fix the imbalance.

“Today, I’m calling on member states to support a massive push to vaccinate at least 10 percent of the population of every country by September,” he said, calling for the coverage to be expanded to 30 percent by the end of the year.

AFP

‘Act Now’: Africa Medics Warn Of India-Like COVID-19 Surge

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.

 

Africa risks being overrun by coronavirus infections if urgent measures are not taken to avert a similar disaster to the “very concerning” crisis in India, the continent’s disease control body said Thursday.

India, a vast subcontinent with a population similar to that of Africa, is fighting an explosion of infections, with jarring scenes of citizens desperately seeking oxygen and medicines.

This has prompted fears that as new variants spread, Africa’s fragile healthcare systems could crash.

“We are watching in total disbelief what is happening in India. The situation in India is very, very concerning to us as a continent. It speaks to the fact that we as a continent must be very prepared,” Dr John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), told a press conference.

Despite early predictions of disaster on the continent, Africa has so far been spared compared to other regions, counting 3.1 percent of global virus cases and about four percent of global deaths, according to the Africa CDC.

In this file photo taken on February 06, 2021 a health worker administers a vaccine dose at a drive through vaccination center at the Sambodrome Rio Carnival venue, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. CARL DE SOUZA / AFP

 

India, like many African nations, took strict early measures to combat the virus and it appeared the country had been spared the worst because of its young population.

However a new variant and mass gatherings have led to a surge in infections that has overwhelmed Indian hospitals, crematoriums and graveyards.

“It is a wake up call. We cannot be indifferent to what is happening in India. We must act now, decisively and collectively,” said Nkengasong.

The African Union will convene an emergency meeting with member states’ health ministers on May 8.

READ ALSO: Ivorian Police Arrest 12 People After Attack On Military Base

“We need to regroup and prepare ourselves,” said Nkengasong.

India on Thursday reported 3,645 deaths and almost 380,000 cases in the last 24 hours.

Africa CDC urged a return to the basics of heeding public health guidelines to keep infections at bay by avoiding mass gatherings and wearing face masks.

“Masks work. They are the only ‘vaccines’ we have,” said Nkengasong.

Africa still lags behind in its inoculation campaign, with the process suffering a setback after India, which manufactures the shots supplied through the global vaccine-sharing facility Covax, decided to reduce exports to address domestic needs.

But Nkengasong said  vaccine hesitancy was also hindering uptake.

Some countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, have had to return jabs to the Covax facility for redistribution after failing to use them with expiry fast approaching. Jabs have also expired in South Sudan and Malawi.

So far, the continent has administered 17.9 million doses of vaccines.

AFP

COVID-19: Russia Begins Vaccination Of Homeless People

A healthcare worker administers to a woman a dose of Russia’s Sputnik V (Gam-COVID-Vac) vaccine against the Covid-19, at a vaccination centre in Saint Petersburg, on February 21, 2021, as Russia launched a mass Covid-19 vaccination campaign for homeless people. Olga MALTSEVA / AFP

 

Forty homeless people in Saint Petersburg received coronavirus vaccine jabs on Sunday, under a charity initiative that has received the backing of local officials.

“Here there are many people at risk. It is important for them to be vaccinated,” said Taysia Suvorova, of the Nochlezhka non-governmental that organisation provides aid to the homeless in Russia’s second city.

The 40 people receiving the vaccine are currently housed by the charity.

According to official figures there are 15,000 homeless people in the former imperial capital, out of a total population of five million.

READ ALSO: 31 Dead In DR Congo Plague Outbreak

Nochlezhka believes the real figure is at least double that.

“Some people have been saying controversial things about the vaccine, but I think there are more advantages than negatives,” 57-year-old Galina Ivanovna told AFP, after receiving the first dose of the vaccine.

“I’m pretty happy to do it,” she added.

Fellow recipient Aleksandr Suvorov, 60, echoed her sentiment, adding that the vaccine was a good thing “because the situation is complicated with coronavirus”.

Homeless people queue to receive a dose of Russia’s Sputnik V (Gam-COVID-Vac) vaccine against the Covid-19, at a vaccination centre in Saint Petersburg, on February, 21, 2021, as Russia launched a mass Covid-19 vaccination campaign. Olga MALTSEVA / AFP

 

An NGO has already launched a similar initiative for the homeless in Moscow, aided by the authorities in the Russian capital.

Russia registered its first coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, back in August.

A second Russian vaccine , EpiVacCorona, was approved in October 2020. The country officially launched its programme of mass vaccinations in January.

On Saturday Russia announced the registration of its third coronavirus vaccine Kovivak.

According to official figures, 4.6 million coronavirus cases have been registered in Russia, 83,293 of wich have proved fatal.

AFP

 

China Puts Half A Million People In Lockdown As Beijing Fights New Cluster

File: Medical staff treating a critical patient infected by the COVID-19 coronavirus with an Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) at the Red Cross hospital in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province on March 1, 2020. China on March 1 reported 35 more deaths from the new coronavirus, taking the toll in the country to 2,870. STR / AFP

 

 

China imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people in a province surrounding the capital to contain a fresh coronavirus cluster on Sunday, as authorities warned the outbreak was still “severe and complicated.”

After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in neighbouring Hebei province in recent weeks.

Health officials said Sunday that Anxin county — about 150 kilometres (90 miles) from Beijing — will be “fully enclosed and controlled”, the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year.

Only one person from each family will be allowed to go out once a day to purchase necessities such as food and medicine, the county’s epidemic prevention task force said in a statement.

The move comes after another 14 cases of the virus were reported in the past 24 hours in Beijing, taking the total to 311 since mid-June and spurring the testing of millions of residents.

The outbreak was first detected in Beijing’s sprawling Xinfadi wholesale food market, which supplies much of the city’s fresh produce, sparking concerns over the safety of the food supply chain.

Nearly a third of the cases so far have been linked to one beef and mutton section in the market, where workers are being made to quarantine for a month, city officials said Sunday.

Businesses in Anxin county had supplied freshwater fish to the Xinfadi market, state news agency Xinhua reported.

Some 12 cases of the novel coronavirus were found in the county — including 11 linked to Xinfadi, the state-run Global Times reported.

The new cases in Beijing have prompted fears of a resurgence of the virus in China.

The capital has mass-tested wholesale market workers, restaurant workers, residents of medium and high-risk neighbourhoods and delivery couriers over the past two weeks.

At a press conference on Sunday, officials said 8.3 million samples have been collected so far, of which 7.7 million have already been tested.

Testing has now expanded to include all employees of the city’s beauty parlours and hair salons, the Global Times said.

Beijing city official Xu Hejian told reporters Sunday that “the epidemic situation in the capital is severe and complicated,” warning that the city needed to continue tracing the spread of the virus.

City officials have urged people not to leave Beijing, closed schools again and locked down dozens of residential compounds to stamp out the virus.

But Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiology expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters last week the new outbreak had been “brought under control”, and officials lifted a weeks-long lockdown imposed on seven Beijing communities on Friday.

AFP

Nigeria Records Highest Single-Day COVID-19 Infections

ncdc-covid-19-update-today
A graphic published by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control on June 18, 2020, showing the nation’s COVID-19 statistics.

 

Nigeria on Thursday recorded its highest single-day COVID-19  infections with 745 new cases. 

This was revealed in a late-night tweet by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

According to the NCDC, Lagos State had the highest number of infections for the day with 280 cases and is followed by Oyo and Ebonyi states with 103 and 72 cases respectively.

The health agency said other states with infections for the day include:  FCT (60); Imo (46); Edo (34); Delta (33); Rivers (25); Kaduna (23); Ondo (16); Katsina (12); Kano (10); Bauchi (8); and Borno (7).

READ ALSO: How Nigeria Can Limit COVID-19 Death Rate – Health Minister

Others states with fresh infections are  Kwara (5); Gombe (4); Sokoto (2); Enugu (2); Yobe (1) Osun (1); Nasarawa (1).

A further breakdown of the figures showed that the West African country now has 18,480 cases of the virus with 6307 persons discharged.

Of the number of recorded cases, 475 people have died from the disease, according to the data from the NCDC.

Global Outlook

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 450,386 people since the outbreak began in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP as of 1900 GMT on Thursday.

At least 8,410,400 cases of coronavirus have been registered in 196 countries and territories. Of these, at least 3,866,200 are 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.

COVID-19: Macron Says France Has Scored ‘First Victory’ Over Virus

Macron Signs Controversial French 'Anti-Rioters' Bill Into Law
File: France’s President Emmanuel Macron talks to journalists after a European Council meeting on Brexit at The Europa Building at The European Parliament in Brussels on April 11, 2019. KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

 

President Emmanuel Macron said Sunday that France has marked its first victory in the fight against the coronavirus, even if the struggle to contain the outbreak is not over.

“The fight against the epidemic is not finished but I am happy about this first victory against the virus,” Macron said in an address to the nation.

He said that all of mainland France, including Paris, would go into a “green zone” of a lower state of alert starting Monday, meaning that cafes and restaurants in the French capital can open in full and not just on terraces.

The announcement will be a relief for restaurants in Paris and its suburbs, after officials signalled last week that their reopening might not come before June 22.

Only the overseas territories of Mayotte and French Guiana will remain at the “orange” alert level, with highs number of cases still posing a threat to strained hospital systems.

Macron also said that all French schools, except high schools, would fully reopen from June 22, a move that will allow more parents to return to work and give students at least a few days with their teachers before the summer break.

Family visits will also be allowed from Monday at retirement homes, which have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 outbreak that has killed more than 29,000 people in France, though the number of new infections has slowed markedly in recent days.

“As soon as tomorrow we will be able to turn the page on this first chapter across all our territory,” Macron said.

The president also confirmed that the second round of municipal elections originally set for March, when the government imposed the lockdown against the virus, would go ahead as planned on June 28.

But mass gatherings will remain “tightly controlled” for now, since “they are the main occasions for spreading the virus,” he said.

AFP

COVID-19: WHO Is Critical To Our Collective Survival – NCDC DG

File: NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu holds a meeting with Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma in Owerri on April 18, 2020.

 

The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, has said the World Health Organisation (WHO) is critical to the survival of the world amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In a video posted on the official Twitter handle of Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, the NCDC boss said WHO has been helpful in saving lives.

According to Dr Ihekweazu, WHO is critical to Africa, adding that it provides expertise for the continent and thus, funding it is important.

READ ALSO: Recovering UK PM Johnson Is In ‘Good Shape,’ Says Health Secretary

“The funding for WHO is so important,” he said. “It is hard to really explain to somebody living outside of the continent how important this organization is for the work that we do.”

He explained that “We rely on them for guidance. Lives are saved because of the work they do.  We don’t have the luxury of this continent to build up all the infrastructure on our own, the knowledge, the expertise they offer.

“So, the organization is critical to our collective survival, and therefore, the collective survival of the world.”

The NCDC boss warned that halting funding for the body may spell doom for the world.

Dr Ihekweazu said: “A price will be paid and I hope we’ll never get to that stage. But if the funding for WHO is affected in the way it may be, that will be a huge price for humanity to pay and not just all of us on this side of the world. I really hopes that comes to pass.”

He, therefore, called for more support and funding for WHO to enable the organisation “to do the critical work it does on our behalf.”

US Halts Funding 

US President, Donald Trump had last week Tuesday said he was instructing his administration to halt funding while “a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.”

Trump explained that the US will now “discuss what to do with all that money that goes to the WHO.”

The US, which is the WHO’s biggest contributor, accused the organisation last week of “mismanaging” the COVID-19 crisis, drawing ire from Beijing as both countries spar over the deadly virus.

China Gives $30m

China announced on Thursday it will give another $30 million to the WHO to help in the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the new donation would be in addition to a previous $20 million committed, and would help “strengthen developing countries’ health systems”.

COVID-19: Berlin Marathon Postponed

FILES) In this file photo taken on September 29, 2019 runners take the start of the Berlin Marathon in Berlin. The Berlin Marathon will not take place as planned on 26 and 27 September due to the ban on gatherings in the German capital linked to the new coronavirus, the organisers announced on April 21, 2020.

 

The Berlin Marathon will not go ahead as planned on September 27 because of a government ban on large-scale gatherings in the German capital due to the coronavirus pandemic, organisers announced Tuesday.

“We have learned that all events involving more than 5,000 people will be banned until October 24,” race officials said in a statement.

“That applies to lots of events, including the Berlin Marathon, which will not be able to take place on September 26-27 as planned,” they added, without giving any new dates.

Tens of thousands of runners take part in the event each year. Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele won the race for the second time in 2019, missing out on the world record by just two seconds.

AFP