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Africa’s COVID-19 cases pass 100,000 mark



The number of confirmed COVID-19 positive cases across Africa surpassed 100,000 as of Friday afternoon, the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said.

The Africa CDC in its latest situation update issued on Friday revealed that the number of confirmed COVID-19 positive cases across the continent rose from 95,201 on Thursday to 100,330 as of Friday afternoon.

The death toll due to the COVID-19 pandemic across the African continent had surged to 3,101, according to the Africa CDC.

It disclosed that some 39,416 people who had been infected with the COVID-19 had recovered across the continent as of Friday afternoon.

The continental disease control and prevention agency also noted that the virus had spread into all of the 54 African countries.

It said that the Northern African region is the most affected area across the continent both in terms of positive COVID-19 cases, as well as the number of deaths.


The African countries are mobilizing resources and taking measures to fight against COVID-19.

Many countries on the continent have imposed night curfew and suspended international flights so as to curb the spread of the virus. Wearing face masks is mandatory at public places in many countries.

They also have the support from international organizations, and countries including China.

In addition to taking actions including sending medical teams to relevant African countries and providing anti-epidemic materials in short supply within its capacity, China said it will establish a cooperation mechanism for its hospitals to pair up with 30 African hospitals.

The Asian country added it will also accelerate the building of the Africa CDC headquarters to help the continent ramp up its disease preparedness and control capacity.

The World Bank announced on Wednesday that it had approved 107 billion shillings (about 1 billion U.S. dollars) for Kenya to address the COVID-19 fiscal financing gap.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement on Thursday that it is working with governments in Africa to train health workers, improve surveillance, testing, contact tracing and treatment.

More than 7,000 health workers, including over 400 in Tanzania, have been trained in WHO African Region since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the statement.


The WHO said in the statement that most countries on the continent, however, do not have the capacity to manage many critically ill COVID-19 patients.

There are on average nine intensive care unit beds per one million people, according to a March 2020 survey based on self-reports by 47 countries in the WHO African Region.

Improvements are being made to increase the number of ventilators in intensive care units and more critical care clinicians are being trained, it added.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called for international action to help Africa deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These are still early days for the pandemic in Africa, and disruption could escalate quickly. Global solidarity with Africa is an imperative — now and for recovering better,” said Guterres in a video message for the launch of a policy brief on the impact of COVID-19 on Africa.

Ending the pandemic in Africa is essential for ending it across the world, he said.

“We are calling for international action to strengthen Africa’s health systems, maintain food supplies, avoid a financial crisis, support education, protect jobs, keep households and businesses afloat, and cushion the continent against lost income and export earnings,” said Guterres.

He warned that the pandemic threatens African progress. “It will aggravate long-standing inequalities and heighten hunger, malnutrition and vulnerability to disease. Already, demand for Africa’s commodities, tourism and remittances are declining. The opening of the trade zone has been pushed back, and millions could be pushed into extreme poverty.”



Protests over killing of African American held in Dublin




Two separate protests were held here on Sunday over the brutal killing of an African American in the United States, reported Irish national radio and television broadcaster RTE.

One was held outside the United States embassy in Ballsbridge, an area in Dublin where many diplomatic missions are located, while another was carried out outside the official residence of the U.S. ambassador to Ireland inside Phoenix Park, the largest public park in the country, according to the report.

About 100 people took part in the protest outside the U.S. embassy, said the report.

Photos carried by the report showed that people of different colors gathered at the main entrance of the U.S. embassy, holding up placards and shouting slogans.

Slogans written on the placards include “I can’t breathe,” “Black Lives Matter” and “Justice for George Floyd,” said the report.

The report didn’t mention the number of people protesting outside the official residence of the U.S. ambassador to Ireland, nor did it mention the names of the organizers of the two protests.

Both protests were peaceful, said the report.

George Floyd was an African American who stopped breathing after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for minutes. In a video, the victim was heard repeatedly begging the police officers around him “I can’t breathe.”

The incident has triggered violent protests against racism in the United States, forcing curfews to be declared in many parts of the country.


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Sri Lanka begin training on Monday, South Africa to follow suitp



A select group of Sri Lanka cricketers, mainly bowlers, will return to training on Monday, amid efforts to restart the game after the coronavirus shutdown, the cricket board said on Sunday.

Professional cricket has been suspended since March because of the pandemic, with Sri Lanka’s home series against England and South Africa among its casualties.

Thirteen players will check into a hotel for a 12-day residential camp at the Colombo Cricket Club, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) said in a statement.

“The players taking part in the camp represent a general squad chosen from across all formats, and primarily consist of bowlers, as they need more time for conditioning before going into active competition,” it said.

A coaching and support staff of four will oversee the training, during which players will not be allowed outside the hotel premises and the practice venue.

The SLC would ensure everyone at the training camp adhered to the government health regulations, it added.

Sri Lanka are preparing to host India for a limited-overs series in July.

However, India’s cricket board has said it will wait for more clarity regarding curbs on international travel before making a decision on the tour.

On Saturday, South Africa also allowed training and playing of professional non-contact sport, a decision welcomed by its cricket board.

“This is a big boost for the operational side of our cricket,” Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) acting chief executive, Jacques Faul, said in a statement.

CSA’s COVID-19 steering committee will meet on Monday to draw up a protocol for the return to training and playing, he added.

On Saturday, Britain allowed elite competitive sport in England to resume behind closed doors from Monday, in compliance with strict conditions.


Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Ali Baba-Inuwa (NAN)

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Lockdown significantly reduces infection rate in S. Africa: president




Amid scepticism about its effectiveness, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday defended the COVID-19 lockdown which he said has “significantly reduced the rate of infection.”

Before the lockdown the doubling time of coronavirus cases was two days but the lockdown prolonged the time to 15 days, Ramaphosa said at a virtual engagement with the South African National Editors Forum.

South Africa imposed a level-five lockdown on March 27 and later eased it to level four on May 1.

During the easing of the lockdown — with the implementation of level four, the doubling time of coronavirus cases was 12 days, Ramaphosa said.

Now, after 65 days of lockdown, we can reflect on how effective this phase of our strategy has been,” he said.

South Africa has started to flatten the curve, said Ramaphosa.

As of Saturday, the country recorded a total of 30,967 confirmed cases and 643 deaths.

“This is a case fatality rate of 2.1 percent, which is far lower than the global average of 6.4 percent and the European average of 8.5 percent,” Ramaphosa said.

The Western Cape province, he said, has been hardest hit by the disease so far.

The province currently accounts for nearly 65 percent of all confirmed cases, and the doubling time of cases in the province is nine days, as opposed to 12 days nationally, according to Ramaphosa.

“It is of the utmost importance that we reduce the rate of spread in the Western Cape and we do everything possible to prevent other parts of the country from following a similar trajectory,” he said.

As the country moves to alert level three on June 1, South Africa should expect an exponential rise in cases, and “we need to deploy all the means at our disposal to continue to flatten the curve,” the president said.

“Our approach to this pandemic has been informed by the view from the scientific community that most South Africans are likely to be infected by the virus at some point,” he cautioned.

Alert level three will allow eight million people to return to work as most of the economic sector will be reopened.

June 1 “marks a significant shift in our approach to the disease, from lockdown to intensive public health management,” Ramaphosa said.

With the assistance of various governments, companies and foundations, South Africa has been able to mobilize significant quantities of personal protection equipment, other medical supplies and ventilators, said Ramaphosa.

“Our attention has not been limited only to South Africa, but have been working with other leaders to ensure that Africa has the resources it needs,” the president said.

South Africa, he said, continues to work with partners to import materials when supplies are short.

The lockdown would only delay but could not stop the spread of the virus, he said.

The president called on South Africans to brace for a significant increase in infections following the easing of the lockdown.


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Africa’s COVID-19 cases surpass 140,000 mark: Africa CDC




The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the African continent reached 141,535 as the death toll from the ongoing pandemic surged to 4,069 as of Sunday morning, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said.

The Africa CDC in its latest situation update issued on Sunday also revealed the number of confirmed COVID-19 positive cases across the continent rose from 135,292 on Saturday morning to 141,535 as of Sunday morning, eventually registering 5,243 new cases during the past 24-hours period.

The continental disease control and prevention agency, which noted that the virus has so far spread into 54 African countries, also disclosed that some 59,212 people who have been infected with the COVID-19 have recovered across the continent as of Sunday morning.

The Africa CDC also disclosed that the Northern African region is the most affected area across the continent both in terms of positive COVID-19 cases, as well as the number of deaths.


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Anti-COVID-19 restrictions among East Africa countries boon for Kenyan farmers




Restriction of movement between east African countries to curb spread of COVID-19 has come as a boon for Kenyan farmers, whose produce is currently selling at a better price as food demand surges.

The restrictions have seen a decline in food imports, allowing Kenyan farmers’ produce to dominate the market.

Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have each limited movement of goods and people into and out of their borders.

While travel of people between the countries has been banned, movement of goods and cargo is allowed.

However, the transporters have to test for COVID-19 and get certificates to show they don’t have the disease.

The testing has occasioned delays, curtailing free movement of goods, thus creating a boon to Kenyan food producers.

Kenya imports a bulk of food produce from its neighbors Uganda and Tanzania. From Uganda, the country imports cereals, legumes, sugar and eggs mainly.

And from Tanzania comes fruits like oranges, lemons, pineapples and mangoes, onions, potatoes and tomatoes.

“It is a good time to be a farmer in Kenya because prices of commodities are now high due to COVID-19 restrictions. I produce eggs, at least 100 crates a day and for the first time, buyers are scrambling for them,” said Cornelius Mutuku, a farmer in Kitengela on the south of Nairobi.

Farmers growing onions and tomatoes are also enjoying the boom as imports from Tanzania remain restricted.

At Wakulima food market in the capital Nairobi, where most produce from Tanzania is usually offloaded for supply to other parts of the city, very few trucks from the country now deliver food at the market.

From about 40 trucks in a day to now less than 10 arrive daily due to the restricted movement, a trader said.

Beatrice Macharia, an agronomist with Growth Point, an agro-consultancy, observed that Kenyan farmers have been able to sustain the market amid limited imports due to good rains in the March to May season.

“The rains offered a boost in the production but in the long-term we still need the imports,” she said, adding good prices have cushioned farmer from high cost of inputs.

Kenya’s agriculture secretary Peter Munya on May 20 asked local farmers to use the window brought about constrained supply chains to reap from their ventures by supplying the market.

Kenya food imports topped 1 billion dollars in 2019, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, with the high imports blamed on erratic weather during the period.


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S. Africa allows phased reopening of tourism amid COVID-19




The South African government on Saturday announced a phased reopening of tourism, further easing COVID-19 restrictions starting from June 1.

Based on the COVID-19 epidemic expected trajectory, the first phase of the recovery for the sector will be driven by domestic tourism, followed by regional tourism and international tourism next year,” Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said.

On May 24, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the lockdown for the whole country will be lowered from level four to level three effective from June 1, allowing more industries to resume operations and millions of people to return to work, accompanied by the reopening of schools.

Although South Africa will be gradually reopening up in the coming months, depending on how the virus is spreading, the tourism sector is expected to fully recover in the end of this year, said Kubayi-Ngubane.

The past two months of lockdown have been difficult for the tourism sector, she said.

“We continued to see many businesses in the sector fighting for survival and our projections showed that almost 600,000 jobs were at risk if the sector doesn’t come into operation by September 2020,” Kubayi-Ngubane said.

“As we open up the sector, we are therefore confident that measures have been put in place to protect our employees, suppliers, tourists and all those who are involved with the sector,” the minister said.


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S. Africa’s COVID-19 cases surpass 30,000




South Africa has so far recorded a total of 30,967 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 1,727 new cases reported over last 24 hours, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Saturday.

The country also reported 32 more COVID-19 related deaths, bringing the total national deaths to 643, Mkhize said in his daily update, adding that a total of 701,883 tests had been taken across the country.

The Western Cape province, the country’s epicenter of the pandemic, recorded 20,160 cases alone with 465 deaths, the minister said.

Gauteng Province came second with 3,773 cases, followed by the Eastern Cape with 3,759 and KwaZulu-Natal with 2,476.


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I Can’t Breathe: U.S. police brutality against African Americans




The police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old black man, in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota on Monday evening has sparked waves of outrage across the United States.

For the fourth straight night following the death of Floyd at the hands of a white police officer while in custody, thousands of demonstrators have poured into streets in multiple U.S. cities to denounce the police brutality and racial discrimination.

The latest instance of police violence has once again brought the public attention to the racial divide which has kept tearing the U.S. society apart. (Xinhua/Wang Ying, Michael Nagle, Angus Alexander, Marcus DiPaola, Bao Dandan, Gu Xingnan, Yin Bogu, Jim Vondruska, Dane Iwata)


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S. Africa allows limited domestic air travel with further easing of COVID-19 restrictions




The South Afrian government on Saturday unveiled guidelines for resuming domestic air travel with further easing of COVID-19 restrictions starting on June 1.

“Limited domestic air travel for business purposes will be allowed, subject to restrictions on the number of flights per day and authorization based on the reason for travel,” Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said.

Limited domestic air travel also means that flights will only be allowed to depart and land at selected airports in a phased manner, he said.

The resumption of domestic flights will be rolled out in three phases, with the first phase covering four major airports — OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, Cape Town International Airport, King Shaka International Airport in Durban and Lanseria International Airport in Johannesburg.

Commercial aircraft movement will be extended to other smaller airports under phase two and phase three, depending on the containment of the pandemic, according to the minister.

“We have evaluated the plans in full and have also considered the non-pharmaceutical interventions as well as mitigation strategies to be implemented by all airlines operating in our domestic markets and are confident that they will assist in the containment of the spread of the virus,” Mbalula said.

He said the following guidelines must be observed for limited domestic air travel:

Only passengers will be allowed inside the terminal buildings;

Temperature screening will be conducted at the terminal building entrances before any passenger is allowed entry;

No passengers will be allowed inside the terminal buildings without masks;

On arrival, all passengers must be screened as they enter the terminal building, and suspected cases must be referred to Port Health Authorities;

All airline check-in agents will wear face shields and the counters will be installed with protective screens, among others.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last Sunday that the lockdown for the whole country will be lowered from level four to level three with effect from June 1, allowing more industries to resume operations and eight million people to return to work, accompanied by the reopening of schools.

The country imposed a ban on domestic and international air travel following the outbreak of COVID-19 in early March.


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