South Africa Coronavirus Deaths Top 10,000

File photo: Relatives observe undertakers unloading a casket containing the remains of a COVID-19 patient during a funeral at the Avalon Cemetery in Soweto, on July 24, 2020. Michele Spatari / AFP

 

 

 

More than 10,000 people have died from coronavirus in South Africa since the pandemic arrived in the country in March, the health ministry said Saturday.

The continent’s most industrialised economy has registered 553,188 infections, more than half of the continental caseload, and the fifth biggest number of COVID-19 cases in the world.

Minister Zweli Mkhize said in his daily update statement that 301 new virus-related deaths had been recorded.

“This means we have breached the 10,000 mark, with 10,210 cumulative deaths now recorded,” he said.

More than half of the deaths registered on Saturday were in the southeastern KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province

The National Assembly announced Saturday that the KZN-based veteran opposition politician and lawmaker 91-year-old Mangosuthu Buthelezi, had tested positive for coronavirus, but was asymptomatic.

Buthelezi, led the once-feared Zulu nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) that presided over South Africa’s deadliest violence ahead of the country’s first all-race elections in 1994, until he stepped down last year.

File photo: Undertakers close the lid of a coffin during the funeral proceedings for a COVID-19 coronavirus victim at a Mosque in Cape Town, on June 16, 2020. MARCO LONGARI / AFP)

 

“The peak is here, the peak is where we are,” health minister Mkhize said during an inspection of hospitals in the KZN province on Saturday.

While South Africa is the continent’s hardest-hit nation in terms of infections, its mortality rate at around 1,8 percent, is one of the lowest among countries with high numbers of cases.

AFP

Trump Signs Orders Extending Economic Relief For Americans

File photo: WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 19: U.S. President Donald Trump. Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP

 

 

President Donald Trump on Saturday signed executive actions extending financial relief to Americans hit by the coronavirus pandemic as polls showed a large majority of voters unhappy with his handling of the crisis.

The four measures marked a presidential show of strength after Trump’s Republican party and White House team failed to agree with opposition Democrats in Congress on a new stimulus package aimed at stopping vulnerable Americans from falling through the cracks.

“We’ve had it and we’re going to save American jobs and provide relief to the American workers,” Trump said at a press conference at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he was spending the weekend.

With double digit unemployment, disruption to businesses from social distancing rules, and persistent coronavirus spread, many Americans had been relying on relief measures approved earlier by Congress, but which mostly expired in July.

Trump said his decision to circumvent Congress with executive actions would mean relief money getting “rapidly distributed.”

 

File photo: US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with the Governors of Colorado and North Dakota on May 13, 2020, in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

 

In reality, his measures are likely to face court challenges because Congress controls federal spending, and in any case they may add up to less money than initially appears.

For Trump, lagging badly in the polls against his Democratic rival Joe Biden ahead of the November 3 presidential election, the orders were partly about showing he is in charge.

He turned the signing ceremony in the ballroom of the golf club into an assault on his opponents and threw in several false claims about his accomplishments in office.

To cheers from club members invited to watch the event, Trump insulted the Democratic “crazy” leader of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, denounced Biden as “far left,” and claimed that Democrats want to “steal the election.”

Biden called Trump’s orders Saturday “a series of half-baked measures.”

“They are just another cynical ploy designed to deflect responsibility,” Biden said, adding that Americans need a “real leader” who would work to hammer out a deal with lawmakers.

– Haggling in Congress –

One key Trump order promises to get $400 a week added to Americans’ unemployment benefits, while two others offer some protection from evictions and relief for student loans.

 

File photo: US President Donald Trump addresses a Congressional Medal of Honor Society reception at the White House in Washington, DC, on September 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM

 

The $400 assistance is below the $600 offered in the expired stimulus package. It may also end up amounting only to $300 extra a week, because Trump said $100 would be provided from state, not federal, budgets — and only if states were willing or able to do so.

A fourth measure — opposed by many Republicans as well as Democrats — ordered a freeze in payroll taxes. This makes a big headline for Trump but is only a deferral, rather than a cut in the tax.

“Today’s meager announcements show President Trump still does not comprehend the seriousness or the urgency of the health and economic crises facing working families,” Pelosi said on Twitter Saturday. “These policies provide little real help for families.”

Democrats, Republicans and White House negotiators had worked all last week without coming close to a deal on an overall congressional relief bill for those struggling to make ends meet in the world’s richest economy.

Democrats pushed for a massive new $3 trillion stimulus package aimed at propping up the economy, repairing the tattered postal system in time for the presidential election and giving the unemployed an extra $600 a week.

Democrats later announced they could drop the price tag but refused the Republicans’ offer of a $1 trillion package.

AFP

Nigeria Confirms 453 New COVID-19 Cases, Six More Deaths

Breakdown of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria by states and the FCT.

 

 

COVID-19 cases in Nigeria rose by 453 on Saturday, pushing the country’s total confirmed cases to 46,140. Six more deaths were recorded for the day, lifting the death toll from 936 to 942.

The new cases are spread across 19 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control showed that the FCT led new cases for the day with 75, followed closely by the country’s pandemic epicentre Lagos with 71 cases.

Benue witnessed a spike in cases with 53 new infections reported, Delta and Borno saw 39 and 30 cases respectively with Enugu recording 25 new cases.

Plateau State saw 24 more cases, Osun – 20, Abia – 19, Oyo -17, Kaduna 16, while Kano and Ebony confirmed 13 new cases each.

Other states with new cases are Ogun – 9, Kwara – 7, Ondo – 6, Gombe – 3,
Ekiti – 2, Akwa Ibom – 1,  Rivers – 1.

The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to spread in the country despite efforts to stop it spread with death toll also edging up.

On Saturday, former Senator Buruji Kashamu joined the list of prominent Nigerians who have lost their lives to the pandemic. They including Mr Abba Kyari who until his death was the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari and former governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi.

READ ALSO: Former Senator, Buruji Kashamu Dies Of COVID-19

Despite the continued spread of the pandemic, the country has reported fewer cases in the month of August, compared to June and July when cases averaged more than 500 daily, exceeding 600 several times and hitting 745 on June 18.

The Government has extended a phase of eased lockdown by six weeks now. During that time, it has shortened a night curfew that initially lasted from 8 pm to 6 am by four hours. The curfew now lasts from 10 pm to 4 am.

Also, domestic flights have resumed and, this week, schools resumed for exit classes with churches and mosques reopening.

Concerns continue to be raised about the level of testing, however, as the country has tested less than 500,000 persons. As of Saturday night, 314,632 tests have been carried out.

Confirmed Cases by State

States AffectedNo. of Cases (Lab Confirmed)No. of Cases (on admission)No. DischargedNo. of Deaths
Lagos15,7682,45313,122193
FCT4,3763,0831,24746
Oyo2,8601,4271,40231
Edo2,3761852,09596
Rivers1,9392451,64153
Kano1,6222651,30354
Delta1,5961441,40943
Kaduna1,5661751,37912
Ogun1,4391811,23424
Plateau1,42177262920
Ondo1,28450275428
Enugu90540148519
Ebonyi8513279326
Kwara83340640621
Katsina74626545724
Borno6827856935
Abia6441225175
Gombe6294755923
Osun62527733513
Bauchi5763652614
Imo47631814810
Benue4092911099
Nasarawa3671362238
Bayelsa3462230321
Jigawa322330811
Akwa Ibom235301978
Niger2264916512
Adamawa185878612
Ekiti16183762
Sokoto154013816
Anambra142511918
Kebbi900828
Zamfara771715
Taraba7213554
Cross River6818428
Yobe672578
Kogi5032

Africa’s Cases Tops One Million

COVID-19 cases in Africa have exceeded one million with hopes that the pandemic may be peaking in some countries mingled with fears of a second wave.

As of 1100 GMT on Friday, an AFP tally put total infections in nations across the continent at 1,011,495 infections with at least 22,115 deaths. Africa’s cases accounted for around five percent of global cases.

Just five countries – South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria, and Ethiopia – 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.

South Africa tops Africa in terms of infections with more than 538,184 cases as of Friday. This is 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 spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus as he queues outside Makro in Soweto, Johannesburg, on March 24, 2020. MARCO LONGARI / AFP

 

Egypt, which is the first African country to report a coronavirus case (February 14) has the continent’s second-highest number of cases at 95,006, including 4,630 deaths as of Friday.

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

 

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, Africa’s most populous nation, follows Egypt with more than 45,000 cases and 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.

 

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 washes his hands with sanitiser as he arrives at a Mosque following reopening of Mosques and lifting of restrictions on religious gatherings by the government 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.

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 fourth 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, 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.

 

Former Senator Buruji Kashamu Dies At 62

Extradition Proceedings: Improper Service Stalls Hearing Of Kashamu's Suit
(File) Senator Buruji Kashamu

 

Former Senator, Buruji Kashamu, is dead.

He died due to complications of COVID-19, his former colleague, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce said in a tweet on Saturday.

“I have just lost my good friend of forever to #COVID19,” Murray-Bruce said. “Until his death, Sen. Buruji Kashamu and I were inseparable.

“He died today at First Cardiology Consultants, in Lagos. May his gentle soul rest in peace. I pray his family and loved ones the fortitude to bear this heavy loss.”

 

Kashamu served as a Senator representing Ogun-East in the eighth National Assembly under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

He was 62.

He joins a list of prominent Nigerians who have succumbed to the novel coronavirus.

Former Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari and former Governor of Oyo state, Abiola Ajimobi, have also passed on from COVID-19 complications.

‘A large-hearted politician’

Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, expressed “deep pain and grief” over the passing of Kashamu soon after the news broke on Saturday.

In a statement released by his spokesman, Kunle Somorin, Abiodun described Kashamu’s demise as one death too many and a devastating blow to the nation’s political family.

“I received the sad news of the passing of Senator Buruji Kashamu today, 8 August, 2020, with a deep pain and grief that words cannot capture. On behalf of my family, the Government and good people of Ogun State, I convey our deepest condolences,” he said.

“His demise further diminishes the tribe of my close political associates. He was a large-hearted politician and courageous fighter for whatever cause he believed in.

“He was not just a loving personality, a generous giver, and someone who lived for others, he was to many a beacon of hope of a better tomorrow. This painful exit is much more than the end of an individual.”

The governor described the late senator as a phenomenon who was faithful to his principles and convictions and even his critics would attest to his tenacity of purpose

“Our brother and friend was a consummate politician and patriot who will be sorely missed within and outside Ogun State for his larger than life disposition,” he said.

‘Couldn’t Escape Death’

In a condolence message to Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, on Saturday, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said while Kashamu’s death was “sad”, his life and history left “lessons for those of all us on this side of the veil.”

“Senator Buruji Kashamu in his lifetime used the maneuver of law and politics to escape from facing justice on alleged criminal offence in Nigeria and outside Nigeria,” Obasanjo said, according to a statement signed by his spokesman Kehinde Akinyemi, Obasanjo.

“But no legal, political, cultural, social, or even medical maneuver could stop the cold hand of death when the Creator of all of us decides that the time is up.

“May Allah forgive his sin and accept his soul into Aljanah, and may God grant his family and friends fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.”

Before his death, Senator Kashamu was engaged in a long, legal battle against the federal government over extradition to the US to face alleged drug trafficking charges.

INEC Holds Nasarawa Bye-Election To Replace Lawmaker Who Died Of COVID-19

Nasarawa voters join the queue at the Tammah Polling unit on August 8, 2020 in adherence to COVID-19 safety guidelines.

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has conducted bye-election for the Nasarawa Central Constituency at the State House of Assembly.

The election is the first to be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission during the COVID-19 pandemic and is expected to set the pace for forthcoming governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States.

71,000 voters are expected to cast their votes in Saturday’s exercise.

In most of the polling areas visited, Channels Television observed that provisions were made for personal safety.

Although voting commenced late, the exercise, however, witnessed poor voter turn out with glitches experienced.

INEC had slated for 8:30 am for voting to commence, materials and personnel arrived early.

READ ALSO: Oyo Govt Probes Death Of UI Student, Promises To Compensate Family

But at Angwan Gangaren Bage, Angwan Madaki 1, Angwan Madaki 2, Angwan Dutse polling booths, voting had yet to commence, although voters were seen waiting, voting had not yet commenced at about 10 am.

Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are the two parties contending for the Nasarawa Central constituency seat.

This comes three months after the former occupant of the office, Adamu Suleiman, died of COVID-19.

Suleiman is the first patient to die of COVID-19 complications in the north-central state since Nasarawa reported its index case of the disease.

The state governor, Abdullahi Sule, who announced the death of the lawmaker revealed that Suleiman died before the result of his test came back positive.

See photos below:

87 Nigerians Arrive In Abuja From Sudan

The Air Sudan passenger plane conveying the Nigerian returnees arrive at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on August 8, 2020. Credit: NIDCOM

 

Eighty-seven Nigerians have arrived in Abuja, the nation’s capital from Sudan.

The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) disclosed this on Saturday, adding that the Air Sudan flight conveyed the returnees.

According to the agency, the flight landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at about 09:15 am.

“87 Stranded Nigerians arrive Nnamdi Azikiwe Int’l Airport, Abuja at about 0915HRS via Air Sudan today, Saturday 8th, 2020,” NIDCOM said.

The returnees are to undergo mandatory self-isolation in line with guidelines from the Presidential Task Force and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

READ ALSO: Nigeria Records 443 More COVID-19 Cases, Total Infections Now 45,687

This comes a day after 331 Nigerians were repatriated from the United Arab Emirates.

Although the evacuees had tested negative to COVID-19, NIDCOM said they will be undergoing mandatory self-isolation in line with PTF and NCDC guidelines.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted travels across the world, thousands of Nigerians have been evacuated back home.

311 Nigerians Arrive In Abuja From UAE

Emirates Airlines
File: The Emirates Airlines plane conveying the 311 evacuated Nigerians from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on August 8, 2020.

 

Three hundred and eleven Nigerians have arrived in Abuja, the nation’s capital from the United Arab Emirates.

The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) disclosed this on Saturday via Twitter.

This brings the number of evacuees from the UAE to a total of 2,353 with other Nigerians still expected to be repatriated.

“Fly Emirates flight conveying 311 Evacuees arrive Nnamdi Azikiwe Int’l Airport, Abuja at about 1150HRS from the UEA, today Saturday, 8th of August, 2020,” NIDCOM said.

The returnees are to undergo mandatory self-isolation in line with guidelines from the Presidential Task Force and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

READ ALSO: 311 Nigerians Arrive In Abuja From UAE

This comes 24 hours after 331 Nigerians were repatriated from the UAE.

The evacuees who had tested negative to COVID-19 were expected to undergo the mandatory self-isolation in line with PTF and NCDC guidelines.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted travels across the world, thousands of Nigerians have been evacuated back home.

In early June, the Federal Government said it had spent N169 million on the evacuation of Nigerians returning from overseas.

Nigeria Records 443 More COVID-19 Cases, Total Infections Now 45,687

 

Nigeria has recorded 443 more cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing its total infections to 45,687.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) disclosed this on Friday night via Twitter.

The new infections were recorded Lagos, the Federal Capital Territory and 17 other states of the federation.

Unlike previous cases, Plateau overtook Lagos by 33 cases thus recording 103 infections with the nation’s commercial capital trailing behind with 70 cases.

The FCT, on the other hand, came third on the list with 60 cases.

Other states with new infections include Ondo – 35, Edo and Rivers – 27, Kaduna – 20, Osun – 19, Borno and Oyo – 18, Kwara – 11, Adamawa – 9, Nasarawa – 7, Gombe – 6, Bayelsa and Imo – 4, Bauchi and Ogun – 2 and Kano – 1.

 

Global Update

The new coronavirus has killed at least 715,343 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Friday.

At least 19,133,340 cases have been registered in 196 countries and territories. Of these, at least 11,319,300 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.

On Thursday, 7,377 new deaths and 282,381 new cases were recorded worldwide. Based on the latest reports, the countries with the newest deaths were the United States with 2,060, followed by Brazil with 1,237, and India with 886.

The United States is the worst-hit country with 160,104 fatalities from 4,883,657 cases. At least 1,598,624 people have been declared recovered.

After the US, the hardest-hit countries are Brazil with 98,493 deaths from 2,912,212 cases, Mexico with 50,517 deaths from 462,690 cases, Britain with 46,413 deaths from 308,134 cases, and India with 41,585 deaths from 2,027,074 cases.

States AffectedNo. of Cases (Lab Confirmed)No. of Cases (on admission)No. DischargedNo. of Deaths
Lagos15,6272,31613,119192
FCT4,2412,9651,23145
Oyo2,8251,3921,40231
Edo2,3401742,07393
Rivers1,9112671,59153
Kano1,6082641,29153
Delta1,5571101,40443
Kaduna1,5301831,33512
Ogun1,4282001,20424
Plateau1,29467659820
Ondo1,24356565127
Enugu88037748518
Ebonyi8381979326
Kwara81545234221
Katsina74626545724
Borno6343056935
Abia6251035175
Gombe6206852923
Osun58627330013
Bauchi5744052113
Imo47231514710
Nasarawa3601292238
Benue356285647
Bayelsa3423129021
Jigawa322330811
Akwa Ibom234551718
Niger2268113312
Adamawa176808511
Ekiti15981762
Sokoto154113716
Anambra142418318
Kebbi900828
Zamfara771715
Taraba7213554
Cross River6827338
Yobe672578
Kogi5032

 

The country with the highest number of deaths compared to its population is Belgium with 85 fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Britain with 68, Peru 62, Spain 61, and Italy 58.

China — excluding Hong Kong and Macau — has to date declared 84,565 cases, including 4,634 deaths, and 79,088 recoveries.

Latin America and the Caribbean overall has 213,018 deaths from 5,319,101 cases, Europe 212,415 deaths from 3,301,728 infections and the United States and Canada 169,108 deaths from 5,002,218 cases.

Asia has 69,099 fatalities from 3,259,246 cases, the Middle East 29,306 deaths from 1,218,513 cases, Africa 22,098 deaths from 1,010,380 cases, and Oceania 299 deaths from 22,154 cases.

As a result of corrections by national authorities or late publication of data, the figures updated over the past 24 hours may not correspond exactly to the previous day’s tallies.

 

Latin America Now Region With Most COVID-19 Deaths

 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

 

Latin America and the Caribbean surpassed Europe on Friday to become the region with the most COVID-19 deaths, according to an AFP count based on official data. 

The world’s worst-hit region has recorded 213,120 fatal cases, 460 more than Europe, according to the tally registered at 1700 GMT.

Over the last week, 44 percent of global deaths from COVID-19 — 18,300 out of 41,500 — happened in the region.

Latin America is also the region with the largest number of infections in the world with 5.3 million.

More than half, some 2.9 million, are in Brazil, which has also recorded 98,500 deaths among its 212 million people.

Only the United States has been worse hit.

The second worst-affected country in Latin America, Mexico, passed 50,000 deaths on Thursday and has registered more than 460,000 cases, according to official figures.

 

AFP

US Economy Regains 1.8m Jobs In July

A woman rides past the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on July 13, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City. Johannes EISELE / AFP
A woman rides past the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on July 13, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City. Johannes EISELE / AFP

 

The US economy regained 1.8 million jobs in July, a solid but unremarkable result that comes as President Donald Trump prepares for a difficult re-election bid, but economists warn challenges to the pandemic recovery are growing.

As COVID-19 cases spiked in several states in recent weeks, new restrictions to contain the virus forced some businesses to shut their doors again, while many have already closed permanently, raising concerns the labor market could take a turn for the worse.

Trump’s economic team has also not been able to narrow the gap with Democratic leaders in Congress over a new emergency spending bill to renew aid that has supported consumer spending in the past three months.

The unemployment rate fell to 10.2 percent last month from 11.1 percent in June, according to the critical government report, still slightly worse than the nadir of the global financial crisis in October 2009.

However, the Labor Department said some workers continue to be misclassified in the survey. Without that, the jobless rate would have been a full point higher than reported.

“Great Jobs Numbers!” Trump tweeted

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a bill singing ceremony with his economic team in the Rose Garden at the White House June 05, 2020 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP
File photo: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a bill singing ceremony with his economic team in the Rose Garden at the White House June 05, 2020 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP

 

And though White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow continues to express confidence in a rapid “V-shaped recovery,” most economists say it will take until next year to return employment to pre-pandemic levels, and only in the unlikely case of the July pace being sustained.

The July employment gain marked a sharp slowdown from the increases of 4.8 million in June and 2.7 million in May, and means less than half the 22 million payroll jobs lost during the pandemic have been regained.

“This is far from normal, as another 13 million jobs are needed just to get us back to pre-pandemic employment levels,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, who noted virus cases are rising faster in states that reopened, “Illustrating the tough tradeoffs in the decision between livelihood versus lives.”

‘Slow and prolonged’

Trump’s Democratic challenger Joe Biden seized on the high numbers of jobless shown in the report to attack the president.

“While I am grateful for the people who got their jobs back, my heart goes out to the more than 16 million Americans still out of work. The truth is it didn’t have to be this bad, but Donald Trump failed to act,” Biden tweeted.

Former US Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Delaware State University’s student center in Dover, Delaware, on June 5, 2020. JIM WATSON / AFP
Former US Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Delaware State University’s student center in Dover, Delaware, on June 5, 2020.
JIM WATSON / AFP

 

A third of private jobs gains were due to bars and restaurants reopening, according to the report.

Government and healthcare also saw strong hiring, but public jobs like teachers may have been inflated by the fact many were laid off earlier than usual because of the school closures in March. And with many schools hesitant to reopen, those jobs could greatly decrease in August.

There are just two more reports before the November elections, leaving little time for Trump to show the kind of improvement that will cement his bid for a second term in the White House.

“Recovery in jobs to pre-pandemic levels will likely be slow and prolonged, one that will restrain the pace of recovery,” Rubeela Farooqi of High Frequency Economics said in an analysis of the data.

The number of people on temporary layoff in July decreased by 1.3 million, but there were nearly three million workers who lost their jobs permanently, according to the latest data.

Meanwhile, 8.4 million people were working part-time not by choice but out of necessity, a group known as involuntary part-time workers.

After days of intense negotiations, the White House and Democratic leaders remain far apart on a new spending plan, and the administration is steadfastly refusing to agree to provide further aid to state and local governments.

Another key source of contention is the $600 in additional weekly federal payments to the unemployed, which expired at the end of July. Republicans claim the money offers an incentive for workers to stay home rather than return to their jobs, but economists say research disproves that.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer said the boost the CARES aid package approved in late March is “losing steam and more investments are still urgently needed to protect the lives and livelihoods of the American people.”

“Millions of Americans are still hurting and yet, despite this reality, President Trump and Republicans appear ready to walk away from the negotiating table to do unworkable, weak and narrow executive orders that barely scratch the surface of what is needed to defeat the virus and help struggling Americans,” they said in a statement.

Kudlow said Trump’s team already has drafted an order for a temporary payroll tax cut — but that would only help people still working and receiving paychecks.

 

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

US Death Toll Soars As Global Virus Cases Top 19 Million

People wearing face masks are seen at the entrance of the Menarock Life aged care facility, where a cluster of some 28 new infections had been reported, in the Melbourne suburb of Essendon on July 14, 2020, as the city battles fresh outbreaks of the COVID-19 coronavirus. William WEST / AFP
File photo: People wearing face masks are seen at the entrance of the Menarock Life aged care facility. William WEST / AFP

 

 

 

Daily coronavirus deaths in the US surged to a three-month high of over 2,000 on Thursday and the number of cases passed 19 million globally, pushing many nations to further ratchet up restrictions in the battle against the pandemic.

The world’s hardest-hit country, the United States, has seen a major coronavirus resurgence since the end of June, adding 2,060 deaths in 24 hours alone Thursday, a tracker by Johns Hopkins University showed.

But other corners of the globe were also marking grim milestones, with Mexico’s official toll soaring above 50,000 dead and the continent of Africa hitting one million confirmed cases.

More than half of Africa’s infections are in South Africa, which has the fifth highest number of infections in the world, after the US, Brazil, India and Russia.

Nevertheless the African continent remains one of the least affected, according to the official figures, with only Oceania registering fewer COVID-19 cases.

At least 19,000,553 cases and 712,315 deaths have been registered worldwide, figures compiled by AFP from official sources at 2300 GMT showed, driven by surges in Latin America and India.

The United States has recorded the most deaths with almost 160,000, followed by Brazil with nearly 100,000. Globally, 40 percent of all cases have been notched in the two countries.

Europe remains the hardest-hit region worldwide with more than 200,000 fatalities since the virus first emerged in China late last year.

As governments across the globe struggle to salvage economies ravaged by months of lockdown, many have been forced to look at new measures to curb outbreaks of COVID-19 since they lifted initial containment orders.

Such is the case in Europe where nations imposed new travel restrictions and containment measures with fears growing over a second wave of infections.

In Australia, the second-largest city Melbourne entered the country’s toughest lockdown yet on Thursday, closing non-essential businesses and requiring hundreds of thousands more people to stay home.

– Travel restrictions –

Germany is the latest to introduce mandatory tests for travelers returning from designated risk zones, starting on Saturday, as fears grow over rising case numbers blamed on summer holidays and local outbreaks.

Germany’s list of “risk zones” currently includes most non-EU countries, as well as certain provinces in Belgium and Spain.

Neighboring Austria on Thursday announced it would issue a travel warning for mainland Spain, becoming the latest country to do so amid a rise in new coronavirus cases in the fellow EU member.

Finland also introduced new controls on arrivals from some EU countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands and Andorra, putting a stop to tourists arriving from there and imposing a 14-day quarantine on other returnees.

“The situation is extremely delicate,” the health ministry’s strategic director Liisa-Maria Voipio-Pulkki said, adding that “some sort of second stage has begun.”

Britain has reimposed quarantine for travelers from Belgium, Andorra and the Bahamas.

Norway announced Thursday that France would be considered a red zone due to the resurgence of coronavirus cases there, meaning all travellers arriving from France face a mandatory ten-day quarantine.

Switzerland, Monaco and the Czech Republic were also hit with similar restrictions, as well as two Swedish regions, the Norwegian foreign affairs ministry said.

“The infectious situation can change quickly, as can the restrictions,” Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide said.

The United States bucked the trend despite its own soaring death toll, lifting a blanket warning against all foreign travel.

“Health and safety conditions (are) improving in some countries and potentially deteriorating in others,” the State Department said in a statement.

– Business struggles –

Many nations are seeing new outbreaks, forcing local or citywide lockdowns and other quarantine measures.

Poland will re-impose compulsory face masks in all public spaces in nine districts amid a new high in infections.

The restrictions will come into force from Saturday and will also affect sports and cultural events in those areas, mainly in the south and east.

Greece’s government on Wednesday announced a “wake-up week” on COVID-19, tightening restrictions after the steady rise in mostly domestic infections.

Officials have blamed the increase on overcrowding in clubs and social events.

The new virus outbreaks are forcing officials into an uncomfortable trade-off between public health and the need to bring economies back to life.

German airline Lufthansa on Thursday became the latest to reveal the fallout from the pandemic, announcing forced layoffs and a 1.5 billion euro ($1.7 billion) loss in the second quarter, the worst in its history.

AFP