Currently, 16 of Nigeria’s 36 states and the federal capital territory have completed vaccination campaigns.
A yellow fever outbreak in Nigeria has killed 172 people so far, the World Health Organization said Friday.
The outbreak poses an extra challenge to the country’s health system as Africa’s most populous nation deals with the Covid-19 pandemic, several concurrent disease outbreaks and a humanitarian crisis in the northeast, the WHO said.
Nigeria has been battling successive yellow fever outbreaks since 2017. This latest outbreak was detected in November, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told reporters in Geneva.
“As of November 24, the outbreak has been reported in five states in Nigeria: Delta, Enugu, Bauchi, Benue and Ebonyi,” he said.
“A total of 530 suspected cases have been reported, including 48 that have been confirmed by lab testing.
“A total of 172 deaths have been reported out of those 530 suspected cases.”
He said sample testing was ongoing through national reference laboratories.
The spokesman said Nigerian national and state authorities were focused on the Covid-19 pandemic response, limiting the human resources required to conduct investigations and response activities for the yellow fever outbreaks.
Capacity has been increased in certain hospitals to help manage patients who develop yellow fever symptoms and complications.
Six more are expected to do so in the first quarter of 2021, with a further six set to do so by the end of next year, bringing the total to 28, the WHO said.
The percentage of people immunised against yellow fever remains low in many parts of Africa, even though the vaccine is nearly 100 percent effective and relatively cheap.
There is no specific treatment for yellow fever, which is largely transmitted in urban settings by mosquitoes.
Nigeria — like the rest of Africa — has so far been spared the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic but authorities are wary of a fresh wave.
So far, more than 68,300 cases of Covid-19 have been registered, and 1,179 deaths.
The University of Ilorin (Unilorin) says about 643 of its workers had benefited from the COVID-19 palliatives being distributed by the Kwara Government.
According to the institution’s bulletin issued on Monday, no fewer than 643 Departmental Staff have received food items donated by the state government as palliatives to cushion the effect of the lockdown occasioned by Coronavirus pandemic.
The university said that the food items, which included 200 bags of 5kg rice, 100 bags of 10kg garri and 50 bags of 5kg sugar, were distributed to the workers.
It noted that the Deputy Registrar, General Services, Mrs Maymunat Zakariyya, was charged with the distribution.
It also said that the management of the university headed by Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Sulyman Abdulkareem, had in its letter commiserated with the Kwara Government on the Global COVID-19 pandemic.
Zakariyya noted that the letter requested the state government to kindly extend the distribution of the Federal Government palliatives to its low cadre staff to ease their economic situation in this period of the lockdown.
“The state government responded by presenting 200 bags of 5kg rice, 100 bags of 10kg garri and 50 bags of 5kg sugar to the university administration.
“She added that the university administration, however, identified 643 staff on CONTISS 1 and 2, and departmental staff of the university as the most vulnerable, and the Vice-Chancellor graciously directed that the food items be shared to this category of staff,” it stated.
Zakariyya, however, admonished the beneficiaries to observe the COVID-19 protocols, imploring them to endeavour to stay safe while hoping that the world will soon get out of thd crisis.
According to the bulletin, one of the beneficiaries, Mr Ajadi Suleiman, who spoke on behalf of others, commended the Kwara government and Unilorin management for the support.
Suleiman however advised the beneficiaries to accept whatever they got with joy and happiness.
“What the government has done is a good thing. We should all receive whatever gets to us with joy and happiness as it will do us a lot of good,” he said.
Japan was poised to lift its nationwide state of emergency over the coronavirus on Monday, gradually reopening the world’s third-biggest economy after new cases slowed to a crawl.
Compared with hard-hit areas in Europe, the United States, Russia and Brazil, Japan has been spared the worst of the pandemic, with 16,581 cases in total and 830 deaths.
Yet with infections threatening to run out of control, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared an initial state of emergency for Tokyo and six other regions on April 7 — later expanding it to cover the entire country.
Businesses and schools were urged to shut and people were requested to remain home but Japan‘s “lockdown” was far softer than in other parts of the world and there was no punishment for anyone flouting the rules.
Citizens largely heeded the orders, with most of Tokyo’s famously packed streets falling quiet, and the number of new infections has fallen from a peak of around 700 per day to just a few dozen nationally.
“It was acknowledged that the state of emergency measure was not necessary for all the prefectures and the declaration for lifting (the state of emergency) was approved,” said Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of the virus response.
Abe was expected to confirm the decision formally at a news conference at 6 pm (0900 GMT).
There does not appear to be one single reason why the pandemic has hit Japan as hard as other comparable countries, and trying to pinpoint possible causes has become a favourite sport on social media.
High levels of hygiene and general health, removing shoes indoors, widespread masks, bowing as a greeting rather than shaking hands or kissing: all have been advanced as possible reasons but analysts agree there has been no silver bullet.
– Recession and deflation –
Japan has come under fire for a relatively low level of testing with around 270,000 carried out, the lowest per capita rate in the group of seven advanced economies, according to Worldometer.
But Japanese authorities insist that mass testing was never their strategy, as cases remained low enough to rely on aggressive contact tracing to contain clusters.
Nevertheless, testing has been ramped up in recent weeks as authorities warn of a possible next wave of the virus that could overwhelm their previous strategy.
Medical facilities are also being boosted after horror stories of coronavirus victims being unable to find a suitable hospital bed — mainly for administrative reasons as only certain establishments are designated to deal with the virus.
Although the human toll has been less severe than in other parts of the world, the economy — already struggling from the effects of natural disasters and a consumption tax hike — has suffered.
The world’s third-largest economy has plunged into its first recession since 2015, data published last week showed, shrinking by 0.9 percent in the first quarter.
With economic activity slowing to a crawl, the spectre of deflation is looming again, with consumer prices in March logging their first drop in more than three years.
In a bid to stem the damage, Abe has ordered a mass handout of 100,000 yen ($930) per person, part of a stimulus package worth around $1 trillion.
Coronavirus has also taken its toll politically, with polls showing support for Abe falling rapidly — a recent survey for the Asahi Shimbun suggested backing had dropped to 29 percent, the lowest since he took office in 2012.
He performed a rare U-turn on the cash handouts — initially announcing an entirely different policy — and is seen to have bungled another signature move involving the distribution of two masks per household, which attracted widespread mockery.
The White House has announced a ban on travel to the U.S. from Brazil due to the spread of coronavirus in Latin America’s hardest-hit country.
Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany says in a statement Sunday evening that the ban applies to foreign nationals who have been in Brazil in the 14 days before they sought to travel to the United States.
McEnany cast it as a move by President Donald Trump “to protect our country.”
Trump has already banned travel from the United Kingdom, Europe and China, all of which have been hit hard by the virus. Trump had said last week that he was considering imposing similar restrictions on Brazil.
Brazil had reported more than 347,000 COVID-19 cases, second behind the U.S. in the number of infections, according to a Johns Hopkins University count.
Brazil also has recorded more than 22,000 deaths, fifth-most in the world. There have been more than 97,000 U.S. deaths.
The founder of Christ Mercyland Deliverance Ministry, Prophet, Jeremiah Omoto Fufeyin has claimed that a U.S. based COVID-19 patient, identified as Tyeisha has been healed through one of his online miracle church services.
Narrating the development in a video made available to journalists, the church said the miracle happened on 22nd May, 2020, in an interactive online service tagged “Dreams, Interpretations and Solutions (DIS).
As gathered by NobleReporters, Prophet Fufeyin received a video call from a middle-aged Californian woman, Tyeisha, who had been diagnosed with the COVID-19 disease and was being housed in a disease control isolation center.
It added that, with further conversation with the patient, Fufeyin discovered that she had developed aggravating conditions such as the inability to walk or use her legs, hence, restriction to bed and dependence on a wheelchair, dependence on supplemental oxygen through Nasal Cannula (NC) as well as constant dry cough.
“The Man of God, Prophet Jeremiah Omoto Fufeyin immediately got a leading to pray and call forth the patient’s healing.
”He prayed with her, shortly and also asked her to provide a mantle for him to pray on. In minutes, and through video call, a woman who was bedridden and clinging to dear life, fully reliant on machines and assistance, took off her Nasal Cannula and began to breathe without supplemental oxygen!
“While the online congregation was still reeling in shock and singing the praises of God, Tyeisha obeyed the command of the prophet and stood up, regaining use of her legs! She walked about her room and even to the corridor, where other patients and caregivers were shocked to see her.
Tyeisha is one of millions of COVID-19 patients, and her story has been changed, miraculously, thanks to the God of Prophet Jeremiah Fufeyin. Distance cannot defeat God, and neither can this pandemic,” the church narrated in the video.
China is “open” to international cooperation to identify the source of the novel coronavirus but any investigation must be “free of political interference”, China’s foreign minister said Sunday.
Wang Yi blasted what he called efforts by US politicians to “fabricate rumours” about the pathogen’s origins and “stigmatise China”.
The United States and Australia have called in recent weeks for an investigation into the origins of the pandemic.
Both US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have accused China of a lack of transparency over the issue, and repeatedly pushed the theory that the virus leaked from a Chinese maximum-security laboratory.
Most scientists believe the virus jumped from animals to humans, possibly from a market selling exotic animals for meat in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
“China is open to working with the international scientific community to look into the source of the virus,” Wang said at a press conference on the sidelines of China’s annual parliament session.
“At the same time, we believe that this should be professional, fair, and constructive,” he added.
“Fairness means the process be free of political interference, respect the sovereignty of all countries, and oppose any presumption of guilt.”
The World Health Organization has also called on Beijing to invite them in to investigate the source, with China proposing that the “global response” to COVID-19 should only be assessed when the pandemic is over.
WHO members on Tuesday adopted a resolution at the UN body’s first virtual assembly to review international handling of the pandemic.
Muslims around the world began marking a sombre Eidul Fitr Sunday, many under coronavirus lockdown, but lax restrictions offer respite to worshippers in some countries despite fears of skyrocketing infections.
The festival, one of the most important in the Muslim calendar marking the end of the holy month of Ramazan, is traditionally celebrated with mosque prayers, family feasts and shopping for new clothes, gifts and sweet treats.
But this year, the celebration is overshadowed by the fast-spreading respiratory disease, with many countries tightening lockdown restrictions after a partial easing during Ramadan led to a sharp spike in infections.
Further dampening the festive spirit, multiple countries — from Saudi Arabia to Egypt, Turkey and Syria — have banned mass prayer gatherings, a festival highlight, to limit the spread of the disease.
Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites, began a five-day, round-the-clock curfew from Saturday after infections more than quadrupled since the start of Ramadan to around 68,000 –- the highest in the Gulf.
Eid prayers will be held at the two holy mosques in the cities of Makkah and Madinah “without worshippers”, authorities said on Saturday, citing a royal decree.
Makkah’s Grand Mosque has been almost devoid of worshippers since March, with a stunning emptiness enveloping the sacred Kaaba.
Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, will reopen to worshippers only after Eid, its governing body said.
In Lebanon, the highest Sunni religious authority has announced the reopening of mosques only for Friday prayers. Worshippers, however, will be subject to temperature checks and sanitary controls before they enter.
– Fears of ‘new peak’ –
Meanwhile, Muslims across Asia — from Indonesia to Pakistan, Malaysia and Afghanistan — thronged markets for pre-festival shopping, flouting coronavirus guidelines and sometimes even police attempts to disperse large crowds.
“For over two months my children were homebound,” said Ishrat Jahan, a mother of four, at a bustling market in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi.
“This feast is for the kids, and if they can’t celebrate it with new garments, there is no point in us working so hard throughout the year.”
In Indonesia –- the world’s most populous Muslim nation — people are turning to smugglers and fake travel documents to get around bans on the annual end-of-Ramadan travel that could send infections soaring.
More than 3,500 Tunisians who travelled home just ahead of the holiday will have to spend it away from their families, forced to quarantine for two weeks in hotels after arriving from abroad.
Atef Maherzi, a doctor repatriated Tuesday from Saudi Arabia, said she would be catching up with family over Skype, foregoing her usual role of host.
“Usually, I’m the mistress of the house, but this time, my husband will receive the guests alone.”
The COVID-19 death tolls across the Middle East and Asia have been lower than in Europe and the United States, but numbers are rising steadily, sparking fears the virus may overwhelm often underfunded healthcare systems.
Iran, which has experienced the Middle East’s deadliest outbreak, has called on its citizens to avoid travel during Eid as it battles to control infection rates.
Iran shut schools and places of worship and banned inter-city travel for the Persian New Year holidays in March, but the restrictions were recently eased.
Health Minister Saeed Namaki said that the country was focusing hard on avoiding “new peaks of the disease” caused by people “not respecting health regulations”.
The exact date of Eid has yet to be set in the Shiite-majority country, but will likely be Monday, in line with the Shiite community’s celebrations in Iraq, as announced by top cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.
Sunnis in Iraq will mark the start of the festival on Sunday.
– ‘Comedy night’ –
The neighbouring United Arab Emirates has tightened its lockdown, with the night-time curfew starting at 8:00 pm (1600 GMT) instead of 10:00 pm during Ramadan.
But that has not stopped some families from planning getaways to luxury beachfront hotels in Ajman or Ras Al-Khaimah emirates.
However, Muslims in many countries are set for frugal celebrations amid growing financial distress.
The twin shocks of coronavirus restrictions and falling oil prices have plunged the region into the worst economic crisis in decades.
The coronavirus restrictions have hit businesses hard, including retailers who would normally be preparing for the festive rush, as Muslims save their money for masks, gloves and other COVID-19 protective gear.
In the Syrian capital Damascus, Eid shoppers rummaged through flea markets for clothes at bargain prices as the war-ravaged and sanctions-hit country grapples with a much more entrenched economic crisis.
“The flea market is the only place I can buy something new to wear for the Eid holidays,” 28-year-old Sham Alloush told AFP.
“Had it not been for this place, I wouldn’t have been able to buy new clothes at all.”
But promising some laughs in these dire times, 40 Muslim comedians from across the world will host a virtual show on Sunday called “The Socially Distant Eid Comedy Night”.
“This Ramadan has been particularly difficult for communities around the world,” said Muddassar Ahmed, head of the Concordia Forum, the organiser of the event.
“We’re proud to be pulling together some of the brightest Muslim comedic talent to entertain those celebrating the Eid festival at home, people looking to learn a little bit about Muslim culture, or really anyone in need of a good laugh.”
US President Donald Trump has said that he has ordered governors to open worship centers despite coronavirus pandemic still raging.
Trump stated this while reacting to the move by some state governors to keep liquor stores and abortion centers open while worship centers remain closed.
“It’s not right,” Trump said. “I’m calling houses of worship essential.”
“If there’s any question, they’re going to have to call me, but they’re not going to be successful in that call,” Trump said of state leaders.
“The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now, for this weekend,”
“If they don’t do it, I will override the governors.”
“It’s not right,” ”This move is aimed at correcting this injustice.”
“If there’s any question, they’re going to have to call me, But they are not going to be successful in that call.”
“In America, we need more prayer,” “Not less.” Mr Trump said before leaving the briefing room.
Speaking in a press briefing, Trump stated that he has approved guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which will enable worship centers to reopen.
Earlier on Friday, Trump said more on the subject.
“We want our churches and our places of faith and worship, we want them to open,” he said. “But they’re going to be opening up very soon. We want our churches open, we want our places of faith, synagogues, we want them open, and that’s going to start happening.”
“I consider them essential, and that’s one of the things we’re saying. We’re going to make that essential,” Mr Trump said. “You know, they have places [deemed] essential that aren’t essential. And they open, and yet the churches aren’t allowed to open, and the synagogues. And again, places of faith, mosques, places of faith.”
When horses suddenly started dying in Thailand as the nation locked down to stem the spread of Covid-19, researchers feared the cause was another deadly bat-borne virus that could kill humans.
“We had no idea what was causing it,” said Nopadol Saropala, owner of a horse farm about 100 miles from the Thai capital, who lost 18 horses in nine days. “We found out later that it came from zebras that were apparently in transit to China.”
More than 500 horses have died since the outbreak appeared in late February. Blood samples analyzed in England in March confirmed it was African horse sickness, a viral disease not known to harm humans but which is widespread among equines, including zebras, in Africa. The illness, spread by biting midges, hadn’t broken out in Asia in more than 50 years.
The disease has devastated horse owners in Thailand and sent another signal to the global health community about the potential dangers of the wildlife trade. About 70% of emerging infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic — transmitted from animals to people.
The severity of the Covid-19 outbreak, thought to have originated in bats, has prompted governments from the U.S. to Australia to increase funding for studies of relationships between animals, humans and the environment to detect potential contagions before they jump species.
“Global biosecurity is pivotal,” said Mark Schipp, Australia’s chief veterinarian and president of the World Organisation for Animal Health. “Once established, diseases can be very costly, difficult to eradicate and can spread to other countries.”
Climate Change Climate change, growing populations, consumerism, poverty, conflict, and migration are all factors in the spread of modern global health problems, a group of specialists wrote in the Lancet medical journal on May 16, calling for a multidisciplinary coalition to look into Covid-19.
Since 1980, four pandemics or international outbreaks — SARS, Ebola, AIDS and Covid-19 — have been tied to the wildlife trade. Other animal-bound pestilence, such as bluetongue, avian influenza, and African swine fever have added to the mounting costs of disease.
Toll of Asia’s Viruses The most deadly viruses emerged from human contact with live animals
“A stronger surveillance system into parts of wildlife, in particular the ones that are the source of many of these viruses and which we may come into contact with, would be very helpful,” said Peter Ben Embarek, a food safety and animal disease scientist with the World Health Organization in Geneva.
While a Thai government investigation continues into the origins of the horse disease, evidence points to zebras — asymptomatic carriers — that were legally imported without needing blood samples or quarantine. That biosecurity gap was closed last month.
One locally registered firm involved in importing the animals since September 2018 had also been exporting them, especially to China, according to an April 7 statement by Thailand’s Department of National Parks.
“No one was thinking of a disease from Africa,” said Siraya Chunekamrai, a Bangkok-based veterinarian involved in efforts to contain the outbreak. “The first thought is to expect something local.”
Fruit Bats Fruit bats present in Thailand are known to carry Nipah virus that can infect and kill humans. Hendra, a related virus, is also known to kill horses. Unlike Covid-19, there are vaccines to protect horses against both African horse sickness and Hendra.
A mass death if horses amid new breaking virus begun in Thailand, while neighboring Cambodia is installing finely woven nets to protect stables from the tiny blood-sucking midges that spread the virus in a similar way that mosquitoes transmit diseases such as dengue and malaria.
“We’re collaborating with medical specialists in dengue who have an understanding of insect movement,” said Siraya, who is also president-elect of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association.
For many, the death of their equines means the loss of livelihoods. The disease has killed everything from Thoroughbred stallions and racehorses to pets and ponies used in tourism.
A 2012 study predicted a hypothetical introduction of African horse sickness in the Netherlands would result in as much as 232 million euros ($254 million) in direct costs and consequential losses of up to 284 million euros. Stables keeping horses for racing and other sports would be worst affected. In Thailand, one Thoroughbred breeder is reported to have lost more than 60 horses worth about 100 million baht ($3.1 million).
Horse Freeze It’s also crucial to owners that Thailand identifies the source of the sickness and stops the spread as quickly as possible. Horses cannot be imported or exported from the country for at least two years from the date of the last infection or vaccination.
While the zebras were imported legally because of a loophole in the rules, many countries face an increased risk of outbreaks because of the growing black market for illegal wildlife products, which Interpol estimates is worth as much as $20 billion annually.
In Myanmar, which shares a border with Thailand, weak enforcement of wildlife protection laws means a steady stream of pangolins, turtles, snakes, bear parts, birds and ivory is smuggled into China, said Nay Myo Shwe, an expert on the illegal trade based at Chattin Wildlife Sanctuary, north of Mandalay in central Myanmar.
“That puts us at high risk for emerging infectious zoonotic diseases,” said Nay Myo Shwe. He said wildlife traders, disease trackers, regulatory agencies, and medical and veterinary aid groups need to work together to reduce the danger.
Identifying how the deadly horse disease leaped from Africa to Thailand is key to ensuring “lessons are learned,” said Schipp at the World Organisation for Animal Health. Without a profound change in wildlife trading, “a future pandemic would be probable.”
Ajoke Silva, veteran Nollywood actress, has been appointed as the chairman of its COVID-19 pandemic review committee, by the Lagos state government.
Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, the state commissioner for tourism, arts and culture, inaugurated the six-man committee, which also has Ali Baba, veteran stand-up comedian, as member, at Alausa, Ikeja, on Thursday.
According to her, members of the committee are expected to make recommendations to the state government on ways to rejuvenate its economy, particularly the tourism and entertainment industry, which has been affected by the pandemic.
“The situation in the world today was not pre-determined. This is where we are and this is what we have seen happening to us. The tourism sector is one of the worst-hit sectors by this pandemic because, on a daily basis, Lagos records new cases and we must not shy away from the fact that COVID-19 is still with us,” the commissioner said.
“Everywhere is shut down. The airline operators are not operating, there is nothing like Art exhibitions, and hospitality businesses have been put on hold. So, we want to find a way to sustain our economy and the industry, even with the pandemic and see how best we can continue to improve on the creative sector.”
Akinbile-Yusuf added that the committee is expected to submit is report in two weeks, adding that its inauguration was borne out of the state government’s drive to ensure tourism thrives beyond COVID-19.
Reacting to the appointment, the Joke Silva appreciated the state government for the opportunity, assuring that all the appointees will work together to achieve the expected results.
“I am very lucky to have intelligent people as members of the committee because they are men and women who are very knowledgeable and passionate about the industry,” she said.
“I know that our collaboration will result in good recommendations. The creative industry has been greatly affected by COVID-19, but we will get through it.”
There is no respite for Nigeria, as the nation ramps up 245 new Coronavirus infections on Friday, taking its overall total to 7,261.
Lagos, the epicentre of the virus takes the lead again with 131 new cases, with Jigawa coming next with 16 fresh infections, in the figures released by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, on Friday.
Ogun recorded 13 new Coronavirus cases; Borno, 12 cases while Kaduna, Oyo, Ebonyi and Rivers have nine cases each.
Kano rakes in eight new Coronavirus cases; Kwara, seven; Katsina, five, Akwa Ibom and Sokoto, three; Bauchi and Yobe, two cases, while Anambra, Gombe, Niger, Ondo, Plateau, FCT and Bayelsa recorded one case each.
Nigeria recorded 10 new deaths from the virus on Friday, taking its total deaths so far to 221.
So far, Nigeria has discharged 2007 patients who survived the pandemic.
The Federal Government has appealed to traders not to hike prices of food items and transportation as the country battles to contain the Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information, Culture, and Tourism, made the appeal at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 daily news briefing on Thursday in Abuja.
He said it was necessary that market women and men understood the enormity of the time regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
He added that there is a need to show compassion to all Nigerians by not hiking prices of foodstuff and services.
The minister said that this period was a time to give back to society while calling on Nigerians not to take the opportunity of COVID-19 to further oppress other Nigerians.
“This is a time people are giving back to society. We call on our compatriots not to take the opportunity to oppress the people,” he urged.
He said that it was regrettable that despite being aware of the danger posed by COVID-19, the NUTRW members still flout the guidelines of the lockdown as they carried passengers above the approved number.
The minister noted that some members of the union had refused to accept that COVID-19 was real, adding that this can be the reason for flouting the guidelines by carrying five to four passengers.
He said that the members had refused to heed the call by PTF to take precaution in carrying passengers, warning that such can be detrimental to their health.
The minister also called on state governors to engage members of NUTRW in their states in order to salvage the situation and contain the deadly virus.
“We need to carry NUTRW along. We cannot micromanage their activities in the state from the center,” he said.
Mohammed said that the NUTRW had the mechanism to engage their members, adding that they had been warned not to carry more than three passengers.
The minister said commercial cab and private are enjoined to carry only one passenger in the front and two at the back seat.
Guatemala’s President Alejandro Giammattei attacks Trump over US deportations of migrants infected with coronavirus.
Healthcare workers have started taking part in a trial of two anti-malarial drugs to see if they can prevent COVID-19, including one US President Donald Trump says he has been taking.
The number of those infected with coronavirus in Africa has reached 95,201, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has reported.
More than five million people around the world have now been confirmed to have the coronavirus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. More than 328,000 people have died globally while some 1.9 million people have recovered.
The United States has recorded the most deaths at 93,439. It is followed by the United Kingdom with 35,786, Italy with 32,486, France with 28,135 and Spain with 27,888.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported 106,000 cases globally, the highest in a single day yet, raising concerns over the spread of COVID-19 in poor nations.
Global infections from the novel coronavirus passed five million on Thursday as the pandemic played out unevenly across the planet, with China eager to declare a victory, Europe tentatively emerging from its shell and deaths still rising in hotspots in Latin America.
The grim milestone comes after known cases of COVID-19 doubled in just one month, according to AFP data collected from official sources, with the death toll now topping 328,000 worldwide.
While many hard-hit European countries have significantly turned the tide on new infections and fatalities, Latin America is in the grip of an infection surge.
Brazil is leading the pack, logging the third-highest number of cases in the world after the US and Russia.
Peru, Mexico and Chile have also seen steady increases in infections, with nurses in Lima warning that the health system is on the brink of collapse after cases and deaths tripled over the past three weeks.
“It’s like a horror film,” Miguel Armas, a nurse at the Hipolito Unanue hospital in the capital Lima, told AFP.
“Inside it seems like a cemetery given all the bodies. Patients are dying in their chairs (or) in their wheelchairs.”
In Brazil, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro continues to scorn experts’ advice on curbing the contagion as he presses regional governors to end stay-at-home measures.
And like US President Donald Trump, he has promoted the use of anti-malaria drugs against the virus despite studies showing they have no benefit and could have dangerous side effects.
China’s ‘victory’ Trump, for his part, insists the US is “Transitioning back to Greatness” as states reopen at different speeds.
His optimism cut a sharp contrast with the bleak health situation in the country, which leads the world in cases and deaths.
While daily death tolls are no longer on a steady incline, the losses are still punishing with more than 1,500 additional fatalities reported in 24 hours on Wednesday, bringing to the total number in the US to more than 93,400.
On the economic front, the latest figures out of the US showed the rate of unemployment slowing — but the total number of jobs lost since mid-March stood at an eye-watering 38.6 million.
Trump, who is desperate to boost his political fortunes ahead of November elections, has also doubled down on his finger-pointing at China, who he blamed for “this mass Worldwide killing”.
Beijing tells a different story, with President Xi Jinping determined to project a narrative of strength and success in reining in the outbreak that first emerged in his country late last year before wreaking havoc around the globe.
Though China has faced criticism of its initial handling of the virus, the country has since brought domestic cases down to a trickle and kept deaths at a far lower toll than in the worst-hit countries, according to its official figures.
In the latest symbol of normalisation, on Thursday China opened its biggest political event of the year — the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) — after months of delay over coronavirus fears.
Analysts say the gathering will be a chance for the party to reaffirm its narrative of beating the virus and coming to the aid of other countries with masks and other medical shipments.
It “will likely be an occasion for Xi Jinping to declare complete victory in the ‘people’s war’ over the virus”, Diana Fu, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto, told AFP.
Vaccine race As governments pray for an end to the economic strangulation from shutdowns, the race to develop a vaccine has been buoyed by experiments on monkeys that offered hope that humans can develop immunity to the virus.
The US also pumped an additional $1 billion into the British pharmaceuticals group AstraZeneca to help fund the production of a vaccine.
In the meantime, many countries are testing ways to live with the dangers in the interim.
In Spain, which is emerging from one of the world’s toughest lockdowns, face masks have been made mandatory for anyone aged six and over in public where social distancing is not possible.
“It gives me a sense of security,” Cristina Quevedo Jorquera, a 47-year-old school teacher in Madrid, said of the mask requirement.
“There will be contagion even with a mask, but without a mask, it’s like jumping into a pool without knowing how to swim”.
With many other European countries also gradually awakening from lockdowns, the economic collapse in the eurozone has “likely bottomed out” with the rate of decline now easing as economies creak open, according to a survey by IHS Markit.
Robots and beer Elsewhere, Cyprus bounded into its second stage of de-confinement Thursday, lifting curfews and allowing outdoor restaurants, barbershops and beaches to open on the Mediterranean island, though airports and hotels remain closed.
In reopened cafes, customers were seated outdoors with spacing between tables, while some ate with plastic face shields still on.
New Zealanders also relished a return to pubs.
“I’d normally never drink beer at lunchtime but it’s good, it feels kind of like back to normal, you know?” said Jim Hall, a 70-year-old who popped inside a pub for a midday refresher.
“We’ve done the hard yards and this is the reward,” he said between sips of stout.
Yet some fear lockdowns are loosening too fast in places like Tanzania, whose government announced it would resume university life and sporting events on June 1 even as the US embassy warned virus was spreading exponentially in the East African nation.
And in Asia, some experiments in adjusting to the new normal have gone awry.
Not everyone was amused in Singapore by a yellow robot dog deployed to patrol a city park and monitor social distancing.
The remote-controlled hound uses cameras to estimate the number of visitors and blasts out a message to remind joggers and walkers to stand at least one metre apart.
“I think it’s really going to be chilling in a way — something is looking around and I’m not sure how it’s going to react to me when I go near it,” local resident Simon Neo told AFP.
The Lagos branch of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has reversed its sit-at-home order following intervention by the state government and the Nigeria Police Force.
Announcing this in a statement Thursday, the Chairman, NMA Lagos, Dr. Saliu Oseni said it had gotten the assurance of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the top hierarchy of the police that no health worker will further be harrassed while doing their job.
The body had Wednesday commenced an indefinite sit-at-home to protest harrasment by security agencies enforcing COVID-19 curfew in the state.
Oseni said: “The leadership of the association has followed the turn of events while monitoring the situation. The Nigerian Police Force has reached out to us to clarify and give assurance of cooperation with all health-workers. This, they have also done in the media. The state governor was exemplary as his timely intervention from the late hours of May 19 helped prevent worsening of the situation.
“Above all, the passionate appeal from the good people of Lagos is difficult to resist considering the fact that they will be most hit by the situation. Following a holistic consideration of the above development, we hereby reverse our sit-at-home order and have directed our members to resume work from 6pm today May 21. This affects those on call duty,” he added.
He said the doctors in Lagos take seriously the responsibility to partake actively in the fight against COVID-19 and the delivery of quality healthcare to the residents for the entire period of the ongoing lockdown and restriction of movement and beyond.
He however called on the state government to ensure clarity at all times, on the ‘exempted status’ of healthcare and other essential workers for the entire period of the ongoing lockdown/restriction of movement.
“That the Association will continue to monitor the situation and will not hesitate to take any action to protect the safety of our hardworking members,” he added.
Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Seema Verma speaks about protecting seniors, in the East Room of the White House on April 30, 2020. Alex Brandon—AP
Before COVID-19 killed thousands of nursing home residents, about 4 in 10 homes inspected were cited for infection control problems, according to a government watchdog report Wednesday that finds a “persistent” pattern of lapses.
In light of the pandemic, seemingly minor cutting of corners such as an employee caring for residents while battling a cold has taken on new significance.
“Warning signs were ignored and nursing homes were unprepared to face a pandemic,” said Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on a committee that oversees Medicare and Medicaid. “There need to be big changes in the way nursing homes care for seniors.”
The report from the Government Accountability Office found that state inspectors who help enforce federal nursing home standards classified the overwhelming majority of violations as not severe, generally meaning there was no actual harm to residents. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services carried out enforcement actions for 1% of violations classified as not severe from 2013-2017, the report said.
Nursing homes ended up bearing the brunt of the coronavirus outbreak. About 1.4 million people live in some 15,500 facilities in the United States. Most of those people were already at higher risk due to age and medical history, and they also shared dining rooms, recreation areas, bathrooms and sleeping quarters.
An ongoing tally by The Associated Press has found over 34,000 coronavirus-related deaths at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, more than one-third of all COVID-19 deaths in the country.
The GAO report found that about 40% of the nursing homes inspected in each of the past two years were cited for problems with infection control and prevention.
Looking deeper into federal data for 2013-2017, investigators found a recurring pattern of problems. Data for that five-year period showed that 82% of nursing homes inspected, or 13,299, had at least one deficiency related to infection control and prevention. About half of the facilities had an infection-related deficiency in multiple consecutive years.
“This is an indicator of persistent problems,” the GAO’s nonpartisan investigators said. The agency carries out oversight for Congress.
The types of problems involved such issues as failing to properly wash hands and not isolating sick residents during outbreaks. “Many of these practices can be critical to preventing the spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19,” investigators wrote.
Among the incidents cited in the report:
—A nursing assistant at a California facility had been sick for at least two days with fever, diarrhea, cough and a runny nose but kept working. Seven employees had not been screened for tuberculosis before they were hired. Workers who hadn’t had their flu shots were working without masks. No enforcement action was taken against the facility.
Peru’s Ministry of Health announced on Wednesday, that country’s number of novel coronavirus infections has crossed the threshold of 100,000, as experts called on the government to extend the ongoing health emergency.
Peru has now confirmed 104,020 cases and 3,024 deaths, making it the Latin American country with the most infections after Brazil.
COVID-19 cases have increased rapidly since the first one was discovered in early March, leading to shortages and overpricing of medicines.
Health services are on the verge of collapse.
Miguel Palacios, the dean of Peru’s Medical College, called on President Martin Vizcarra to extend the health emergency which allows the government to take rapid health measures and which is due to end on Sunday, daily Correo reported.
The South American country has been under quarantine for about two months, leaving the economy largely at a standstill.
The Lagos State chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association has asked its members to embark on an indefinite “sit-at-home” industrial action.
This action was prompted by alleged harassment and intimidation of health workers by security agents in the state.
The NMA gave the “stay-at-home directive” in a statement signed by its Chairman, Dr Saliu Oseni, and Secretary, Dr Ramon Moronkola, on Wednesday.
According to the statement, the directive takes effect from 6.00 pm.
The doctors accused police officers in Lagos of acting contrary to the directives of the Federal Government on lockdown order, noting that their members are unsafe.
The statement read, “We have observed that despite the directives of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhamadu Buhari, through the Presidential Taskforce on COVID 19, which was clear on the exemption of essential workers including doctors and other health workers from the ongoing lockdown/movement restrictions, (but) the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, has been issuing conflicting directives on social and mainstream media to the effect that essential workers, including doctors and other health workers, are NOT exempted.
“As a direct result of the conflicting directives of the government and the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, the Lagos State branch of Nigerian Medical Association was inundated yesterday (Tuesday) evening of several cases of harassments and intimidation of doctors and other health-workers by officers and men of the Lagos State Police command to the extent that even Ambulances carrying patients with emergency cases were impounded. This has become a recurrent issue.
“The Lagos State Branch of the NMA has resolved that it is presently unsafe for members to continue to provide healthcare services under the present confused arrangement.
“You are hereby advised to proceed on a sit-at-home, in your best interest, starting from 6pm today, Wednesday, 20th May, 2020 indefinitely, until otherwise advised.”
Rwanda is set to fight COVID-19 with humanoid robots that will help minimise risks of infections among health care workers, authorities.
Five anti-epidemic robots – named Akazuba, Ikirezi, Mwiza, Ngabo, and Urumuri – will be mainly used to administer temperature checks, monitor patient status, and keep medical records of COVID-19 patients, the Health Ministry announced in a series of tweets..
“These high-tech robots have the capacity to screen 50 to 150 people per minute, deliver food and medication to patient rooms, capture data and notify officers on duty about detected abnormalities,” the ministry disclosed.
Health Minister Ngamije Daniel said the robots will fasten service delivery and help protect the lives of valuable health workers.
“Medics and other frontline workers visit patients’ room many times to deliver medication, meals, carry out tests, among other things – and this may increase their risk of contracting the virus,” he said.
The robots are the result of joint efforts by the Rwandan Ministry of Information, Communications, Technology and Innovation and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
“The infectious nature of COVID-19 calls for technological innovations to tackle the pandemic. This is why Rwanda has introduced robots and drones among other high-tech initiatives to enhance efficiency in the fight,” ICT and Innovation Minister Paula Ingabire said.
UNDP representative Stephen Rodriques said the project marks the “beginning of a great collaboration and it’s part of a broader partnership” with the East African country.
Rwanda, a major innovation and technology hub in Africa, has recorded 308 coronavirus cases so far, with zero deaths and 209 recoveries, according to official figures.
To date, more than 52,300 tests have been carried out in the country of over 12 million.