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Active COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria exceed 2,000

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The number of active COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria has surged to 2,026, following the upward trend over the last three weeks, official figures showed on Tuesday.

According to the country’s health ministry, 140 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed across the country in the last 24 hours, taking the total to 4,831.

Meanwhile, the number of recoveries from COVID-19 rose by 74 to 2,582, and the death toll from COVID-19 went up from 219 to 223, the ministry said.

It added that 434 patients are currently hospitalized, with 31 in intensive care units, while the number of infected medical workers has reached 404.

Bulgaria confirmed its first COVID-19 cases on March 8, and the number of active cases gradually increased to 1,513 on May 18. This was followed by a decline to 980 active cases on June 6, but then the number began to bounce back rapidly as a result of the easing of social restrictions.

(XINHUA)

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Education

Students urge FG to take proactive measures for schools reopening

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The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has urged the Federal Government to take proactive measures for the reopening schools across the nation.

Mr Olawale Kappo, South-West Coordinator of NANS, in a statement on Tuesday in Lagos, said that government should consider the plights of students writing the 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSSCE).

Kappo said that the association was very optimistic that the schools would complied with any directive by the government on flattening the curve.

“As the apex students body in the zone, it’s imperative we shutter our stance on the indefinite lockdown of schools across the nation.

“To avoid the education sector from becoming an eyesore and the most neglected in all sectors in Nigeria, we need to register our dissatisfaction over the continuous closure of schools.

“We need to ensure that education of Nigerians must continue, just as market places, merchants and interstate commuters have continued with their activities,” he said.

Kappo said that for a feasible panacea to cushion the effect of the pandemic and get the economy back, all sectors should be treated equally without leaving behind the education sector.

“Those ones, who from primary schools, have been carrying the title of ‘future leaders’ remain at home with no clue on what is in stock for the continuity of their academics.

“We reluctantly want to discard the rumour that the government prefer market places to schools, because it’s a revenue generating sector, while education is not,” he said.

According to him, the future of many Nigerians is at stake, if the government relegate the continuity of education this year.

“The diseases may disappear overtime, but children will continue to suffer the effect of the internment.

“Surprisingly, after the easing and lifting of ban on interstate travels, the number of confirmed cases keeps rising and market places keep increasing the consistency of their activities,” Kappo said.

He added that students were at higher peril of abuse, neglect, violence, exploitation, especially with the continuation of school closure.

Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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General news

NLC pleages proactive measures to protect workers in Kano

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Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) in Kano, says it will adopt proactive measures to protect workers against exploitation by the employers.

Mr Kabir Minjibir, the NLC Chairman in the state, stated this on Wednesday in Kano, while reacting to the rescued of 126 workers allegedly held hostage by their employer.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the workers were rescued by the police at the Popular Farms and Mills Limited located in Challawa Industrial Estate, Kano.

Minjibir said that NLC would take necessary action to ensure that the affected worker were adequately compensated and the culprits prosecuted.

He said: “The Food and Beverages Union briefed the state council on the development.

“It is annoying that there is no brach of the union in the company, the workers tried their best to form a leadership, a move resisted by the company.

“The Food and beverages Union will investigate the matter and report back to us.

“We are ready to write to the relevant authorities concerned, to enable the workers form a leadership to protect their rights.”

Minjibir added that the council would also involved human right bodies to look into the matter with a view to establish infringement of the workers fundamental rights.

“If the right of the workers were violated by the company, the human rights bodies will ensure that they are compensated,” he added.

The police command in the state said it had, on June 21, recieved a complaint from an NGO, the Global Community for Human Right Network, alleging that some labourers were wrongly confined inside the Popular Farms and Mills Limited.

The police said it conducted search in the company’s located at No. 54 Challawa Industrial Estate, Kano, and rescued 126 workers. 

“On receiving the information a team of policemen were deployed and when a search was conducted, 126 labourers trapped inside the factory for three months were rescued,” the command’s spokesman,  DSP Abdullahi  Haruna said.

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Foreign

S. African finance minister urges “active steps” to stabilize debt

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Finance Minister Tito Mboweni on Wednesday called for “active steps” to rapidly stabilize debt and grow the economy so as to avoid a sovereign debt crisis.

“By doing this we will create jobs, reduce the cost of doing business and build a competitive economy,” Mboweni said when presenting his Supplementary Budget Speech to a joint sitting of Parliament.

To reduce the reliance on borrowing becomes more urgent amid gloomy prospects for the South African economy which is expected to contract by 7.2 percent in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the largest contraction in nearly 90 years, the minister said.

South Africa has been hit hard by both the collapse in global demand and the restrictions to economic activity, he said.

“But debt is our weakness. We have accumulated far too much debt; this downturn will add more,” said Mboweni.

Without external support, these borrowings will almost entirely consume all of South Africa’s annual domestic saving, leaving no scope for investment or borrowing by anyone else, Mboweni said.

“For this reason, we need to access new sources of funding,” he said.

The government intends to borrow about 7 billion United States dollars from international finance institutions to support the pandemic response.

“We must make no mistake, these are still borrowings. They are not a source of revenue. They must be paid back,” Mboweni cautioned.

This year, out of every rand that South Africans pay in tax, 21 cents goes to paying the interest on their past debts, he said.

South Africa’s projected total consolidated budget spending in this fiscal year, including debt service costs, will exceed two trillion rand (about 117 billion United States dollars) for the first time ever, according to Mboweni.

“This indebtedness condemns us to ever higher interest rates. If we reduce debt, we will reduce interest rates for everyone and we will unleash investment and growth,” the minister said.

Projection shows that South Africa’s gross national debt will be close to four trillion rand, or 81.8 percent of GDP by the end of this fiscal year. This is compared to an estimate of 3.56 trillion rand or 65.6 percent of GDP projected in February.

Mboweni warned that South Africa’s debt will spiral inexorably upwards and debt-service costs will crowd out public spending on education and other policy priorities.

A wide gate opens for South Africa to a path of bankruptcy — a sovereign debt crisis, when the country can no longer pay back the interest or principal on its borrowings, Mboweni said.

“We are still some way from that. But if we do not act now, we will shortly get there,” he cautioned.

The results are devastating — interest rates sky-rocket, spending has to stop, inflation takes hold and people grow much poorer, Mboweni said.

But taking an active approach through reducing reliance on borrowing “opens to a path of prosperity” for South Africa, he said.

The government will narrow the deficit and stabilize debt at 87.4 percent of GDP in 2023-2024, according to Mboweni.

The cabinet has also adopted a target of a primary surplus by 2023-2024, the minister said.

“This means that we will try to reduce all expenditure that we thought we can no longer afford. After all, we are not as rich as we were 10 years ago,” he said.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Largest active wild fire in United States grows to over 110,000 acres

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The Bush Fire burning in northeast of Phoenix, United States state of Arizona, raged to 114,941 acres (465.15 sq km) as of Thursday morning with 5 percent containment.

Now the largest active fire in the United States, the fire almost doubled in size since Wednesday morning and more evacuation orders had been issued in the state, according to the latest data updated by InciWeb, an interstate incident information system.

Hot, dry and windy conditions pushed the fire to spread, the InciWeb reported, adding “an abundance of invasive grasses in the desert ecosystem, native grasses and low fuel moisture in the live plants continue to produce extreme fire behavior.”

Besides the Bush Fire, multiple other blazes continued to burn throughout the Grand Canyon State.

As of Thursday morning, the Mangum Fire near Grand Canyon North Rim burned nearly 56,780 acres (229.78 sq km) with 3 percent containment, and the Bighorn Fire in south part of the state, spread to 31,208 acres (126.29 square kilometers) Thursday morning and is 40 percent contained.

More than 1,000 firefighters are battling the blazes, the InciWeb said, so far no casualties have been report.

(XINHUA)

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General news

COVID-19: Bayelsa now has 3 active cases, discharges 7 more  — Director

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The Bayelsa government says it has only three active Coronavirus cases after another seven new patients were discharged from its treatment centre in Yenagoa.

Dr Yerinbuluemi Stowe, Director of Public Health in the state, said in a statement issued to newsmen on Monday that out of 32 confirmed cases 26 have so far recovered and discharged.

Stowe, also member of the COVID-19 State Task Force, noted that there were now only three active cases in its treatment Centre.

“So, in the breakdown, we are pleased to announce the discharge of another seven cases from our treatment Centre after full recovery and fulfilling the criteria for discharge.

“Five cases were discharged on Sunday while one was discharged on Saturday, all at our treatment centre at Federal Medical Centre (FMC).

“One case was discharged on Friday at the NigerDelta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH), treatment centre.

“On confirmed cases, the state has 32 with three deaths but a total of 26 so far discharged. Of course, we have only three active cases now.

“We urge the general public to continue to obey all the recommended Public Health protocols to Stay Safe,” he stated.

Edited By: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Foreign

Malaysia’s active COVID-19 cases drop below 1,000, 1 new death reported

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Active COVID-19 cases in Malaysia dropped below 1,000 on Sunday as the number of newly recovered cases continue to outpace new confirmed ones.

Malaysia reported eight new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, pushing the total cases to 8,453, the Health Ministry said.

Another 35 cases had been released, bringing the total number cured and discharged to 7,346 or 86.9 percent of all cases.

Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said at a press briefing that there are 986 remaining active cases in the country, of which four are being held in intensive care and none of those are in need of assisted breathing.

One more death was reported, with the victim was a foreign detainee held at an immigration facility who had pre-existed health conditions, pushing the total death toll to 121.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Israel’s COVID-19 active cases reach 3,315, highest since May 17

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The number of coronavirus active cases in Israel has risen to 3,315, the highest since May 17, the state’s Ministry of Health said on Saturday.

According to the ministry, 177 new cases were recorded on Saturday, compared to just 47 new recoveries.

This brings the total number of cases to 18,972, and the number of recoveries to 15,357.

The number of death cases remained 300, while the number of patients in serious condition increased from 34 to 35, out of 129 patients currently hospitalized.

Despite the rise in morbidity, the Israeli government has decided that starting Sunday, weddings and events to celebrate baby birth may be held in events halls.

These events will take place under restrictions, such as a maximum of 250 participants and keeping the participants list for possible epidemiological investigation.

China and Israel have cooperated on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Feb. 11, the Tel Aviv Municipality Hall, a landmark in the Israeli city Tel Aviv, was illuminated with the colors of China’s national flag, showing solidarity with China in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

On March 19 and April 1, two video conferences were held between Chinese doctors and Israeli counterparts to share experiences in containing the virus’ spread and treatment of coronavirus patients.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Number of active United States drilling rigs decreases this week

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The number of active drilling rigs in the United States decreased by 5 to 279 this week, down by 690 year on year, according to the weekly data released Friday by Houston-based oilfield services company Baker Hughes.

These active drilling rigs included 199 oil rigs operating in the United States oil fields, down by 7 from the previous week; 78 gas drilling rigs, up by two from the previous week; and two miscellaneous rigs, unchanged from last week.

The 279 rigs included 266 land drilling rigs, down by five from the previous week; and 13 offshore drilling rigs, the same as the previous week. There was no inland waters drilling rig this week, the same as last week.

Of them, 22 are directional drilling rigs, 246 are horizontal drilling rigs, and 11 are vertical drilling rigs.

During the week, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and West Virginia each lost two rigs. Texas lost one rig to 114.

By far, the Permian Basin in western Texas and eastern New Mexico has been the largest source of shale oil production growth in the United States, having become an engine of supply growth outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in the past years.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Italy’s active COVID-19 infections drop below 30,000, as recovery efforts increase

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Italy registered a total of 236,305 coronavirus cases on Friday, as the number of active infections dropped below 30,000 for the first time since March 18, according to the latest official data.

More specifically, there were 28,997 positive cases across the country, with a decrease of 1,640 cases compared to Thursday, the Civil Protection Department said in its daily bulletin.

Of all those infected, some 227 patients are currently in intensive care, down by nine patients on a daily basis.

Another 3,893 are hospitalized with symptoms (down by 238), and 24,877 people — or 86 percent of all those infected — are isolated at home without symptoms or with mild symptoms.

The total number of people cured since the official outbreak of the pandemic here on Feb. 21 grew to 173,085 after 1,747 new recoveries were registered.

Some 56 new fatalities were also registered over the 24 hours, which brought the country’s death toll to 34,223.

In related news on Friday, prosecutors questioned Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte within an ongoing probe into alleged delays of the central government in setting up red zones around some of northern Lombardy region’s hot spots, during the first phase of the coronavirus pandemic.

The inquiry was opened by the Bergamo city’s prosecution office, after a group of COVID-19 victims’ relatives filed public legal complaints with regard to the creation of red zones around two Lombardy’s small towns — Nembro And Alzano — which, they said, should have been ordered as soon as the outbreak was spotted.

Besides the prime minister, prosecutors also questioned Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Health Minister Roberto Speranza in the Italian capital on Friday.

In an interview with La Stampa newspaper ahead of meeting with prosecutors in the morning, Conte stressed he was not at all worried about the probe. “I acted with conscience and according to science,” he said.

CALL FOR STATES GENERAL OF ECONOMY

Meanwhile, local media unveiled a draft schedule for the beginning of the States-General of Economy, set on Saturday.

Conte was expected to deliver a key opening address, followed by governor of the Bank of Italy Ignazio Visco, President of the European Parliament David Sassoli, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, and European Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni, Ansa news agency reported.

A panel of Italian and foreign economists would then gather in the afternoon on the theme “Policy in the Post-COVID world: challenges and opportunities,” according to Ansa.

Launched by the government earlier this month, the event will take place at the historic Doria Pamphilj palace in the Italian capital, and was intended to draw economic experts and officials in order to plan Italy’s post-COVID recovery.

“We will hold the States-General of the Economy … with the best of our country’s forces, we will discuss and gather the most useful ideas, and the most effective advice,” Conte had explained during an event on the digital economy on June 4.

“We will seek (advice from) the most brilliant minds of the country’s productive body…in order to later unveil our Recovery Plan to the public opinion.”

In a report issued on June 8, the country’s National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT) forecast the Italian gross domestic product (GDP) would contract by 8.3 percent this year due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by a partial recovery of 4.6 percent in 2021.

(XINHUA)

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