COVID-19: Kaduna Govt Says Markets, Places Of Worship To Remain Closed Till Further Notice

 

The Kaduna State Government says it will not re-open markets or places of worship until further notice as the nation continues to battle the COVID-19.

This was disclosed in a statement issued on Tuesday by the Special Adviser to the state Governor, Muyiwa Adekeye.

The decision to close places of worship in Kaduna State had been taken and enforced in March 2020 by the state government as part of the proclamation of the Quarantine Orders against COVID-19 in the state.

But on Tuesday, while the government noted that activities will still remain on lockdown, Adekeye said they have started engagements with business leaders, community, and religious leaders to discuss and agree on the protocols for the safe re-opening of businesses, markets and resumption of congregational worship.

He, however, stressed that until such consultations result in a formal announcement authorising businesses, markets and places of worship to reopen, it will be a violation of subsisting Quarantine Orders for anybody to reopen any unauthorised facility, market or places of worship or to conduct congregational worship of any sort, adding that places of worship in Kaduna State were not closed by the Federal Government.

The government also noted that the state maintains its prohibition of interstate and intercity travel, adding that government officials and mobile courts will continue to enforce the ban to prevent people from spreading the virus through non-essential movement.

It further stated that the 6:00 pm to 6:00 am curfew still remains.

“Kaduna State is not one of the three states and the FCT where the Federal Government imposed a lockdown. The steps taken to ease such federally-imposed lockdowns in the concerned places should not be construed as the Federal Government relaxing in all states conditions that it did not impose in the first place.

“Kaduna State has its own well-articulated roadmap for reopening, and this was published last week as a public document for the views and inputs of the citizens of the State. That is why when it extended the Quarantine Orders by two weeks on 26th May 2020, it also announced steps to ease some of the restrictions. These included increasing lockdown-free days to three and allowing approved businesses and facilities to open on those three days.

“The quarantine extension announced by the Deputy Governor Dr. Hadiza Balarabe on 26th May 2020 made clear that schools, places of worship and markets will remain closed under the adjusted orders.

“The relevant government officials and agencies will be engaging with religious leaders, transport unions, traditional institutions, market unions, school proprietors and other stakeholders as may be identified from time to time, to discuss the conditions and circumstances for a safe reopening of these sectors,” the statement added.

COVID-19: South Africans Rush to Liquor Stores As Booze Ban Lifts

A man purchases beer at a liquor store in Pretoria on June 1, 2020. – South Africa moved into level three of a five-tier lockdown on June 1, 2020, to continue efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Under level three, all but high-risk sectors of the economy will be allowed to reopen. Liquor sales will resume, but for home consumption only. Emmanuel Croset / AFP.

 

Scores of people lined up outside liquor stores in South Africa’s township of Soweto on Monday, waiting to stock up on drinks after a nine-week ban on alcohol sales as part of a strict coronavirus lockdown.

Buying booze was prohibited when Africa’s most industrialised economy went into lockdown on March 27.

The ban — meant to ease pressure on emergency wards and prevent a feared spike in domestic violence — was lifted for home consumption on Monday as South Africa moved down to level 3 of its five-tier shutdown.

The mood was festive in Soweto, on the outskirts of Johannesburg, where customers carrying crates of empty beer bottles waited out the meandering lines, some stationed in their cars, blasting loud music from their stereos.

“We are overwhelmed, over the moon, so excited,” said queuing customer Bongani Khumalo.

“This place is jamming,” he exclaimed, adding that celebrations were expected throughout the township.

READ ALSO: Tanzania Reopens Universities Despite COVID-19 Concerns

“I’m here to buy my beloved beer,” said Anele Mapoma, 31.

“It has been a while since I had a taste of that foam and burping (so) I am here so early to satisfy my habit.”

Another Soweto resident admitted she had been looking forward to “this day for an entire month”.

“I had to wake up super early to be here so I’m all good now,” said the unnamed 24-year-old as he stood outside a liquor store in the suburb of Pimville.

-‘Traumatising’ black market-

As shop doors opened at 9:00 am, customers queueing in face masks were ordered to keep a safe distance from one another and allowed entry one small group at a time.

Security guards took their temperature at the door and anyone with a fever was turned away.

South Africans still harboured mixed feelings about the controversial booze ban, which caused black market sales to flourish.

“That one was very traumatising whereby people had to get liquor illegally, they raised prices so high,” said Khumalo.

“It’s month’s end, people got paid and others are excited to go back to work, I think people have every reason to celebrate.”

But for 22-year-old Asenathi Faleni, a self-confessed “serious drinker”, the government’s decision to shutter the alcohol market was a brilliant idea.

“The virus would have spread much more because as drinkers we don’t really listen once we’re drunk,” Faleni said.

“We just want to be out and about and around people and at taverns, and the taverns get full.”

Under level 3 all but high-risk sectors of the economy will be allowed to reopen, as will schools and places of worship.

An ongoing ban on cigarette sales remains a thorny issue, however, with British American Tobacco South Africa launching legal proceedings against the government last week.

– Balancing Act –

Government’s ban on alcohol has faced resistance from the onset with businesses bemoaning the mushrooming of illegal markets.

The country ranks 30th in the world in terms of per capita alcohol consumption, according to 2010 figures by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

At the beginning of the lockdown, the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence had also warned that a sudden cut in supply of alcohol causes physical and mental problems.

But Police Minister Bheki Cele insisted the move was astute, even attributing the decline in crimes such as murder and hijacking to the ban.

“I wish (the) alcohol ban could be extended beyond lockdown,” Cele said.

The country has recorded more than 32,600 infections so far, including 683 deaths.

Health experts have predicted that South Africa’s coronavirus outbreak will peak between July and November, causing at least 40,000 deaths.

AFP

England Reopens Some Schools As Debate Rages About Lockdown Ease

Members of the public keep a 2-metre social distance as they queue in the car park to enter an Ikea store in Warrington, northwest England as it re-opens its doors following the easing of the lockdown restrictions during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic on June 1, 2020. – Paul ELLIS / AFP.

 

Schools partially reopened in England on Monday and the most vulnerable were allowed to venture outdoors, despite warnings that the world’s second worst-hit country was moving too quickly out of its coronavirus lockdown.

A death toll that now officially stands at 38,489 has piled political pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson — still basking in the glory of a thumping December election win when the pandemic reached UK shores.

Johnson spent much of the past week stamping out a scandal sparked by his chief adviser’s decision to drive to a picturesque castle with his family while everyone was under orders to limit outdoor exercise to an hour a day.

The furore over Brexit architect Dominic Cummings appears to have abated but concern about Johnson’s handling of the crisis remains.

His public support last week suffered the sharpest fall for a Conservative party leader in 10 years before recovering slightly in a poll published Monday.

– ‘Spreading too fast’ –

Johnson has set out a timeline that allows two million younger children to return to school on Monday and older ones on June 15.

But a survey conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research found that primary school leaders expect about half the families to keep their children home.

The government is also allowing those most at risk of suffering serious consequences from the virus to spend time outdoors for the first time in two months.

READ ALSO: Philippines Capital Reopens Despite Rise In COVID-19 Cases

“I do not underestimate just how difficult it has been for you,” Johnson told the 2.2 million Britons who fall into the extreme risk category.

The UK government has also been encouraged by the positive experience of other European countries that have started to return to something resembling the old way of life.

But critics argue that the so-called R rate of transmission — estimated nationally at between 0.7 and 0.9 — was still dangerously close to the 1.0 figure above which the virus’s spread grows.

Parks and beaches were filled across England for the second successive weekend in what has been one of the driest springs in over 100 years.

Several members of the government’s scientific advisory group have warned that restrictions were being lifted prematurely.

“COVID-19 spreading too fast to lift lockdown in England,” scientific advisor Jeremy Farrar said on Twitter.

Minister Alok Sharma told the BBC on Monday that the “scientific advice does differ” but the overall view from the official body advising the government was that “we must do this cautiously”.

The group has more than 50 members and disagreements are to be expected — although public criticism of the government’s policies from its own advisers is relatively rare.

– Hurting the poor –

The scientists are not the only ones to express concern.

London’s Metropolitan Police Federation chair Ken Marsh said current rules such as those allowing people to gather in groups of six in England — but not sit on each other’s deckchairs — were unenforceable.

“I don’t think the public are taking much notice of what is laid down in front of them,” Marsh told The Daily Telegraph,

“They are doing it how they want to do it.”

National Education Union co-leader Mary Bousted said the government has had to revise its school reopening guidance 41 times since mid-May.

There were “things they had forgotten, things they didn’t know, and things they got wrong (and that) had to be added in”, Bousted told Sky News.

The schools will only start reopening in England because each of Britain’s four nations follows its own health guidelines.

Scotland is waiting until August and Northern Ireland is eyeing September, while Wales is still making up its mind.

Communities minister Robert Jenrick argued a return to school was essential because a lack of classes and lunch provision was hitting disadvantaged families especially hard.

AFP

Philippines Capital Reopens Despite Rise In COVID-19 Cases

Passengers board a train, usually packed during rush hour, with plastic sheets spacing out seats to ensure social distancing, in Manila on June 1, 2020. – Hordes of cars and workers poured into the Philippine capital on June 1 after its strict virus lockdown was eased despite a spike in new cases, but as the nation must revive its bruised economy. Ted ALJIBE / AFP.

 

Manila emerged on Monday from one of the world’s longest coronavirus lockdowns as the Philippines seeks to repair its badly damaged economy even as the number of new infections surges.

Streets in the capital were choked with traffic and limited public transport resumed as commuters flooded back to work in the city of 12 million after nearly three months of strict home quarantine.

Most businesses have been allowed to reopen in the city, but schools, bars, dine-in restaurants all remain shuttered.

“The virus is frightening but it’s either you die from the virus or you die from hunger,” salesman Himmler Gaston, 59, told AFP as he entered the train station where commuters had their temperatures checked.

The Philippines has so far reported 18,638 cases and 960 deaths, but experts fear limited testing means the true figures are likely much higher.

There has been a roughly 30 percent jump in new cases in the past week, which health officials said was mainly due to efforts to clear backlogs from laboratories as they boost testing.

READ ALSO: Tanzania Reopens Universities Despite COVID-19 Concerns

While public trains and buses resumed operations Monday, the country’s popular jeepney mini-buses have been ordered to stay off the road because of their cramped seating.

Normally packed train carriages had plastic sheets covering some seats and markers on the floor to ensure passengers kept their distance from each other.

Despite the risk of being exposed to the virus on his way to work, 27-year-old barista Paul Escala said the train was still safer than riding his bicycle.

“It’s safer here. If I’m taking the bike, I have two opponents: the virus and unruly motorists,” he said.

Quarantine measures to contain the virus vary across the Philippines, but the strictest and longest lockdown has been in Manila, the centre of the country’s outbreak.

It shut down in mid-March at about the same time hard-hit France and Spain issued their stay at home orders.

While those countries have steadily loosened their restrictions in recent weeks, Manila only started allowing outdoor exercise two weeks ago.

Even now children and the elderly have to stay home unless they are out getting essentials or headed to work.

The tough measures have hurt millions of workers in Manila, which accounts for more than a third of the country’s economic output.

Its reopening comes after figures showed the Philippines’ economy shrank 0.2 percent in the first three months of the year — the first contraction in more than 20 years.

The country’s economic pain will likely intensify as officials estimate hundreds of thousands of Filipino migrant workers will lose their jobs due to virus shutdowns around the world.

Their remittances account for a tenth of the Philippines’ gross domestic product, and have long served as an economic lifeline for a country where millions live in deep poverty.

AFP

Spanish PM Seeks Final Two-week Lockdown Extension

(Files) Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez addresses media representatives at a press conference following a European Union Summit at European Union Headquarters in Brussels on October 18, 2019. AFP

 

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Sunday he will seek parliament’s approval to extend Spain’s state of emergency one final time, which would keep the coronavirus lockdown in place until June 21.

The current emergency is set to expire on June 7, and the Socialist premier told a press conference that one last two-week extension was required, while welcoming that his hard-hit nation is “on the verge of arriving safely” out of confinement.

The sixth extension since March will need to be ratified on Wednesday by the 350-seat parliament, where Sanchez’s coalition is in a minority.

But he can count on a Catalan independence party to abstain, as well as the support of Basque nationalists, under deals which he sealed on Saturday.

In mid-May, Sanchez tried to extend the state of emergency for a full month, but was forced to reduce the request to two weeks to secure the support of the centre-right Ciudadanos party.

Announced on March 14, the state of emergency has allowed the federal government to control the response in a country where regional governments hold great sway.

READ ALSO: EU Tells UK Post-Brexit Deal Vital During COVID-19 Crisis

Spain has been one of the most affected countries by the pandemic, but as its numbers of new cases and deaths have slowed, it has gradually lifted the lockdown.

The measures are expected to be fully lifted in late June or early July, depending on the region.

AFP

22 Recovered COVID-19 Patients Discharged In Jigawa

A file photo of a Jigawa map.
A file photo of a Jigawa map.

 

Twenty-two COVID-19 patients in Jigawa State, have recovered after testing negative twice for the virus.

The Commissioner of Health Dr Abba Zakari, who confirmed this to newsmen in Dutse on Saturday said the recovered patients have now been discharged from the isolation centre.

This brings the total number of discharged patients in the state to 181 in the state. It has, however, recorded seven fatalities.

Meanwhile, Dr Zakari who doubles as the Chairman of the state task force on COVID-19 says the lockdown will be lifted with immediate effect in the state capital.

As of Friday night, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) announced that the country has recorded an additional 387 cases.

Of the new cases, 24 were recorded in Jigawa State.

COVID-19: Do Not Cut Health Spending During Downturn, WHO Warns

This picture taken on April 24, 2020 shows a sign of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva next to their headquarters, amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
This picture taken on April 24, 2020 shows a sign of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva next to their headquarters, amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus.
Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP.

 

European governments should not cut healthcare spending during the current economic crisis sparked by the coronavirus pandemic and associated lockdowns, the World Health Organization warned on Thursday.

“We are concerned that countries will respond to this crisis in the same way they did to the recession 10 years ago… by cutting public spending on health,” WHO regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, told a press conference.

“Those cuts prevented many people from accessing the healthcare that they needed.”

According to WHO Europe, public spending on healthcare per capita fell in about half of European countries between 2008 and 2013.

Healthcare needs that could not be met increased in 19 of 28 EU countries, with three million more people affected in 2013 than in 2008, the UN agency said.

Also, up to nine percent of households were pushed into poverty as a result of having to pay for healthcare.

READ ALSO: US COVID-19 Death Toll Surpasses 100,000 As Pandemic Rages In Latin America

With the EU’s economic output expected to contract by 7.5 percent this year, the agency warned that health cuts would not only put lives at risk but also be counter-productive.

“Countries that took the path of cuts to health spending struggled to recover from the economic shock and we must learn from the mistakes of the past,” Kluge said.

More than two million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed and over 175,000 deaths recorded in the 53 countries in the WHO European region.

AFP

Austrian Airlines To Resume Flights On June 15

(FILES) This file photo taken on May 19, 2020 shows an airplane of Austrian Airlines taking off from Vienna’s International Airport in Austria. – Austrian Airlines said Thursday, May 28, 2020 that it would resume flights from June 15, 2020 after almost three months of being grounded due to the new coronavirus pandemic, which has heavily restricted international travel. JOE KLAMAR / AFP.

 

Austrian Airlines said Thursday that it would resume flights from June 15 after almost three months of being grounded due to the new coronavirus pandemic, which has heavily restricted international travel.

Flights will resume to destinations in Europe, including London, Paris and Brussels, as well as Tel Aviv from June 15, the carrier, a subsidiary of the German giant Lufthansa, said in a statement.

More cities, including in Austria, will be added from June 22 bringing the total number of destinations up to 37, it said.

The airlines said the flights, mostly serviced by smaller planes such as the Embraer 195 and Dash 8, represented about five percent of the capacity offered during the same period last year.

The carrier said it was considering adding long-distance flights in July depending on demand for short- and medium distance flights.

Passengers will have to wear masks covering their mouths and noses, the airlines added.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Do Not Cut Health Spending During Downturn, WHO Warns

The carrier is currently in negotiations with Austria’s government for state aid.

Initially, it demanded 767 million euros ($844 million), but recent media reports suggested the amount could have gone down after the airline’s employees accepted pay cuts.

Politicians from the Green party, the junior partner in conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s government, have said that any state aid should be tied to policies to combat climate change.

Suggestions for what that could mean in practice have included slashing the number of short distance flights and using alternative fuels.

Coronavirus-stricken airline group Lufthansa wavered Wednesday on grabbing a nine-billion-euro German state lifeline, throwing up new turbulence for a rescue that could decide the fate of the historic company.

AFP

Global Stocks Rise On Hopes For Economic Rebound, Vaccine

 

Further easing of coronavirus lockdowns pushed global equities higher on Tuesday, with optimism stoked by the reopening of bars, cafes, pools and beaches outweighing China-US tensions that have hurt the dollar.

While countries including Brazil, Chile and Russia are enduring rising death tolls and infection rates from COVID-19, an increasing number of governments are seeing figures tail off.

“Once again, the markets embraced an optimistic outlook… setting aside fears over the long-term economic impact of the pandemic and the ever-growing tensions between the US and China to focus on another round of global easing measures,” said Connor Campbell, analyst at trading group Spreadex.

Adding to the broadly positive outlook was optimism about progress on a possible vaccine, which would allow the shattered global economy to start bouncing back.

But Chris Iggo at AXA Investment Managers warned, “That does not mean we should ignore the risk of second waves, prolonged weak growth and geopolitical issues.”

Wall Street, where the New York Stock Exchange trading floor reopened after two months of closure, finished higher, with the Dow gaining 2.2 percent to 24,995.11.

READ ALSO: Pandemic Creating ‘Lockdown Generation’ As One In Six Youths Stop Work – UN

“US stock markets are gearing up for a strong start to the week as further lockdown easing and some more promising vaccine news lifted sentiment after the bank holiday weekend,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA Europe.

Key European markets were all one percent or more higher at the closing bell, with London playing catch-up after a strong eurozone performance on Monday, though its gains were capped by a rising pound.

Earlier, Asian markets had closed higher, with Tokyo rising more than two percent, and Hong Kong up 1.9 percent as city leader Carrie Lam sought to reassure investors.

She said fears that Hong Kong’s business-friendly freedoms were at risk from a planned Chinese national security law were “totally groundless”.

But OANDA’s Erlam warned that whatever good news may be looming on the COVID-19 front stood to be undermined by worsening relations between Washington and Beijing, which he said “will be a constant headwind for stock markets”.

US President Donald Trump warned that Hong Kong could lose its status as a global financial center if the proposed Chinese crackdown goes ahead.

Critics fear the law could be a death blow to the city’s treasured liberties, which are crucial to making it an international financial center on a par with New York and London.

Oil prices pushed on with their recovery, having suffered a spectacularly bad April when WTI crashed below zero.

The reopening of economies and a massive cut in output by some of the world’s top producers has helped the US benchmark WTI virtually double in value this month.

– Key figures at around 2040 GMT –

New York – Dow: UP 2.2 percent at 24,995.11 (close)

New York – S&P 500: UP 1.2 percent at 2,991.77 (close)

New York – Nasdaq: UP 0.2 percent at 9,340.22 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 1.2 percent at 6,067.76 (close)

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 1.0 percent at 11,504.65 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: UP 1.5 percent at 4,606.24 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.9 percent at 2,999.22 (close)

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 2.6 percent at 21,271.17 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 1.9 percent at 23,384.66 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 1.0 percent at 2,846.55 (close)

West Texas Intermediate: UP 3.3 percent at $34.35 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.8 percent at $36.17 per barrel

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0984 from $1.0898 at 2100 GMT Friday

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 107.54 yen from 107.71 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2335 from $1.2191

Euro/pound: DOWN at 89.04 pence from 89.39 pence.

AFP

South African Migrants Face Hunger, Xenophobia During COVID-19 Lockdown

People stand in a street of a high-density migrants area in the Johannesburg city center, on May 10, 2020. – As part of an unprecedented emergency plan to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced food distributions and a monthly allowance for the most destitute. Neither the head of state nor his ministers have mentioned any nationality condition for receiving it. But migrants and NGOs are adamant that this aid is in fact exclusively reserved for South Africans. Luca Sola / AFP.

 

The car approaches the gates of the small parish church, where an army of hands await.

The precious food is swiftly taken from the car boot and back seat and lined up in bags in the courtyard, rather like a military parade. It is time for the handout.

In the eyes of the waiting women and children, there is relief: a gleam that comes from the prospect of having a full belly.

The scene, in the parish of Mayfair just outside the centre of Johannesburg, has become grimly familiar across South Africa’s largest city.

Even as a strict lockdown to slow the coronavirus pandemic is eased, many foreigners living in this country have no work and are hungry.

South Africa is the continent’s second-largest economy and a magnet for millions of refugees and migrants from elsewhere.

But the vast majority of them depend on day-to-day work — and this informal source of income catastrophically dried up from one day to the next because of the lockdown.

In a country considered by the World Bank to be the most unequal in the world, many of these luckless people now have nothing.

READ ALSO: Pandemic Creating ‘Lockdown Generation’ As One In Six Youths Stop Work – UN

“I see a lot of community members suffering because of this lockdown,” said Alfred Djang, a 50-year-old lawyer who left the Democratic Republic of Congo 19 years ago.

Some had been working in shops, “they were selling things on street corners, but they are not allowed to do it anymore,” Djang said.

“They don’t have permits so they need to beg for food here and there,” he added.

– ‘Hunger has no colour’ –

Amir Sheikh, head of the African Diaspora Forum, said his non-profit group had been swamped by requests for help.

“Since the beginning of the lockdown we have initiated a process of cooking food for the migrants,” the Somali said.

Funded by religious organisations, his network provides 3,500 parcels and 750 meals each week.

“It is very important because those people have been neglected… hunger has no colour, but unfortunately the government of South Africa has discriminated against us on the basis of our country of origin,” he said.

As part of an unprecedented emergency plan, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced food distributions and a monthly allowance of 350 rand ($20 / 18 euros) for the most destitute.

Neither Ramaphosa nor his ministers have mentioned any conditions for the nationality of people receiving the aid.

But migrants and non-governmental organisations insist that in de-facto terms, the help goes to South Africans.

While the “rainbow nation” Nelson Mandela dreamed of has some four million foreigners, most of them do not have a residence permit — a document with the value of gold.

– No work, no pay –

In Lenasia, a township in the remote outskirts of Johannesburg, 49-year-old Edward Mowo relies on his Lazarus hands for a living. He brings dead televisions, radios and telephones back to life.

Under the corrugated iron roof of his shack, the Zimbabwean admitted to having difficulty feeding his wife and three children.

“Most people don’t work anymore, so they don’t get paid. So how can I be paid?” he said.

“My kids were born here but they don’t get anything because we are not South African nationals,” Mowo said.

“Even with my documents I don’t get anything. They should help us, as we are legal but I’m still waiting. I’ve never seen them… We have to survive without the government, and it’s hard.”

Sharon Ekambaram, in charge of migrants’ assistance at an NGO called Lawyers for Human Rights, said the authorities had systematically refused to help foreigners.

“There has not been a single refugee that has confirmed with me that their application is through, that they qualify and they are going to get a grant,” she said. “This is a serious crisis.”

Questioned by AFP, the social development ministry declined to comment before an upcoming court case over the conditions under which its aid is distributed.

Ekambaram said a hotline set up last week offering legal advice received more than 700 calls within days of grants being announced, many asking about food.

“We have seen children going to hospitals being diagnosed as malnourished,” she said.

Even though apartheid ended a generation ago, South Africa is still struggling with rampant inequality and poverty, which in turn have fed ugly xenophobia.

After a surge in violence and mob attacks in September against foreign-owned businesses in and around Johannesburg, Ramaphosa was booed at the funeral of his Zimbabwean counterpart, Robert Mugabe.

“South Africa is not xenophobic,” he pleaded at the time.

– ‘Institutional xenophobia’ –

But ambiguities in his government’s policies have been laid bare by the coronavirus pandemic.

Last month, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni called for locals to be favoured for jobs as the country emerges from the crisis.

“The proportion of South Africans working in a restaurant must be greater than that of non-South Africans,” he declared.

Dewa Mavhinga of Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the pandemic had brought this type of discourse to the surface.

“A number of migrants have no access to food, they are facing starvation. It’s a blatant violation of their basic rights, it points to a pattern of institutionalised xenophobia,” Mavhinga said.

“South African authorities have an obligation to support and provide assistance to those in needs who are unable to find food,” he said.

“If the South African government is unable to help them because of lack of resources it must open up to international supporters to step in.”

In its defence, the government says it has set up a Solidarity Fund to coordinate emergency food aid, and no proof of identity is required from beneficiaries.

“The Solidarity Fund’s response was to roll out a humanitarian relief effort aimed at assisting vulnerable families, experiencing severe food insecurity across South Africa, irrespective of their nationality,” said Thandeka Ncube, head of humanity support.

But many illegal immigrants prefer to keep their distance from these handouts, dreading that they will be picked up, say grassroots workers.

“Without any permit, our main worry is to be deported. They have to hide from the police, it’s exhausting,” said Abdurahman Musa Jibro, a leader for Ethiopia’s Oromo community in South Africa.

He says that he too has received no help from the authorities.

– ‘Humanity should come first’ –

“Some shopkeepers are asking their clients for an ID before selling them some food,” Jibro said.

“If you cannot show any ID, they tell you ‘go elsewhere, go elsewhere’,” he added.

Thanks to the generosity of his community, his association has been able to feed around a thousand Ethiopian families, most of them undocumented or asylum seekers.

“Some people are bringing us food parcels. That’s how we survive now,” said a 47-year-old Ethiopian woman who asked to remain anonymous.

She fled repression in her country and has been living in Johannesburg with her three children without a residence permit since 2008.

She said she believed the government should help her family because “we are living here in this country. Humanity should come first, before any document.”

Some consulates in neighbouring countries have recently expressed interest in arranging the repatriation of their citizens stranded in South Africa during the pandemic.

“That’s a possibility which I’m considering,” said Collin Makumbirofa, a 41-year-old Zimbabwean who has been living in the overcrowded Alexandra township in Johannesburg for more than a decade.

“As foreign nationals, we are contributing so much to the South African economy, it’s totally unfair from the South African government not to help people living on its own soil,” he said.

“It’s very tough, we are starving. Life has become unbearable here.”

AFP

COVID-19: Again, Kaduna Extends Lockdown For Another Two Weeks

A file photo of Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai.

 

The Kaduna State Government has extended the lockdown imposed on the state to contain the spread of the coronavirus for another two weeks, starting from June 1, 2020.

The Deputy Governor, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe, made the announcement in a broadcast to residents on Tuesday.

Balarabe also noted that the two-day lockdown relaxation window remains Wednesdays and Thursdays but from June 1, the relaxation window will be extended to three days, to include Tuesdays.

The government had imposed its quarantine orders on the state for one month starting from March 26 andat the expiration on April 26, it was extended to May 26.

Read Also: 218 Almajirai Repatriated To Kaduna Will Get Free Education – El-Rufai

The Deputy Governor who is also the Chairperson of the COVID-19 Task Force in the state, noted that the state will continue to monitor and ensure residents’ complaince to the safety guideline such as wearing of face masks, washing of hands and avoiding large gatherings.

She said a violation of these guidelines will now force the government to impose stricter measures.

Italians Celebrate Lockdown End With Ice Cream

Maddalena serves an ice cream to a customer at the Brivido ice cream parlour in the Testaccio district of Rome on May 26, 2020, as the country eases its lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP.

 

Strawberry and chocolate or fig and hazelnut? Italians have been celebrating the end of the coronavirus lockdown with one of their favourite treats: artisanal gelatos.

“After a long period spent at home, many have chosen to cool down with an ice cream even during the week, at lunchtime,” agriculture group Coldiretti said in a statement.

The country’s 39,000 gelato shops, which employ 150,000 people and post annual sales of 2.8 billion euros ($3.1 billion), were being “saved” by people’s desperation to spend time outdoors after almost three months inside.

The sector had “decidedly picked up again” following the economically-crippling nationwide shutdown, it said.

Nearly 240 tonnes of ice cream were consumed last weekend in Rome and along the Lazio coastline alone, but cones were being licked up and down the country in cities and seaside resorts alike, it said.

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They were helping fight not only lockdown fever but also stickier than average temperatures, with this year being classified so far as the hottest since records began in 1880, Coldiretti said.

A whopping 94 percent of Italians regularly eat ice cream, it said, with seven in 10 preferring it piled on a cone rather than scooped into a little tub.

Many like it with freshly-whipped cream on top.

AFP