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Experts urge S. Africa to tackle root causes of xenophobic attacks



Experts said the South Africa should work with its African counterparts to finally tackle the underlying root causes of the xenophobic attacks.
Somadoda Fikeni, a political analyst with the University of South Africa, said on Tuesday that the issue of limited resources in poor communities could not be ignored and the governments should be serious about getting to the bottom of this.
“There’s no doubt that if the underlying issues are not addressed, the next attacks are as certain as the sunrising in the morning.
“The government has not dealt with the source which is fuelling the attacks which is the struggle for resources in poor areas,” he said.
Since 2008, South Africa has been dealing with sporadic attacks on migrants which have claimed over 70 lives.
Trust Matsilele, a political analyst that it was clear that other African governments were not pleased with South Africa’s actions to stop the attacks.
“If the government ensures that the rule of law is obeyed, it would help to restore its image.’’
However, he agreed that if “we’re failing to address the push factors that are pushing citisens from other countries to South Africa we would fail to deal with this.”
After President Cyril Ramaphosa sent a team of special envoys to Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia to apologise for the attacks, Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu admitted that root cause behind the anti-migrant sentiments must be tackled.
“We fully agree with our president that the xenophobic violent attacks on our fellow African brothers and sisters have damaged our reputation and our standing as a country.
“We must stop these attacks whilst at the same time addressing the underlying factors,” Mthembu said on Twitter.
Fikeni said that South Africa wouldn’t be able to address the problem without involving other nations.

(Edited by Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim)


Experts urge Nigerians to embrace natural foods, proper hydration



A Professor of Biochemistry at Lagos State University (LASU) has urged Nigerians to embrace natural foods and proper hydration to boost their immune system to fight against COVID-19.

Prof. Babajide Elemo made the call at the sixth LASU Virtual Public Lecture, entitled; “COVID-19: Effective Use of Science in Overcoming the Pandemic,” on Wednesday in Lagos.

He said that regular consumption of natural foods and balanced nutrition were part of the keys to stay free from contracting COVID-19 and any other diseases.

World Health Organization recently published a nutrition advice that people should eat fresh and unprocessed food, drink enough water, eat moderate amount of fat and oil, amongst others.

“Balanced diet and hydration are vital during COVID-19 pandemic, while nutrition status plays an important role in the functioning of the immune system,” Elemo said.

Dr Josephine Sharaibi, Lecturer, Department of Botany, Faculty of Science, LASU, said that absence of cure for COVID-19 necessitated that everyone consumed the right foods and herbs as a means of boosting the immune system against the virus.

Sharaibi said that plants were critical to both the prevention and eventual cure of the disease and advised participants on the responsible use of herbs and herbal medicines in their search for solution to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said that there were many local herbs which included ginger, garlic, tumeric and cinnamon that could be taken as immune boosters.

“There are also anti-malaria herbs such as moringa lucida (Brimstone tree), alstonia boonei (God’s tree), enantha clorantha (African whitewood) and the popular Dogonyaro tree, all of which can be used to treat symptoms of the virus.

“We should also regularly detoxify our system by taking herb drinks and natural fruit smoothies but avoid processed foods and as much as possible, stay natural,” Sharaibi advised.

Also speaking, Prof. Sunday Omilabu, Director, Centre of Excellence on Human and Zoonotic Virology, Lagos State Biobank, warned against unapproved testing process of COVID-19.

Omilabu said that till date, no serological testing platform had been licensed for COVID-19, and even when available, was not meant to replace the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction for diagnosis of the virus.

Prof. Richard Adegbola, Research Professor and Consultant, Nigeria Institute of Medical Research, Yaba, recommended three pronged approaches to prepare for future pandemics.

Adegbola said that the three approaches were consistent surveillance for data aggregation and trend monitoring; modelling for prediction and forecasting; and translation and research that turned basic research into health-improving products.

He said there was need for multidisciplinary approach to problem solving because research alone would not be enough to solve all science-related problems.

“Technology and other fields, have major roles to play in keeping our world together,” Adegbola said.

Edited By: Razak Owolabi/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Spotlight: Israeli experts call for change as COVID-19 crisis exposes lack of int’l cooperation




The world is lacking a coordinated global response to the raging COVID-19 pandemic and its economic ramifications, several Israeli experts have said recently.

To better cope with the COVID-19 crisis, they have urged all countries to come together to form cohesive policies on such issues as vaccine research and international travel.




Many previous crises in history, such as the financial crisis of 2007-08, have witnessed countries making joint efforts to tackle problems, yet the current COVID-19 crisis, which has so far recorded over 6 million infections worldwide and more than 380,000 deaths, has seen a lack of coordinated response across the world with some countries shirking responsibilities expected of them, experts said.

For example, international flights were canceled and airports shutdown following the outbreak. The United States, the sole superpower which should have taken the lead in promoting global cooperation, halted exports of masks and respiratory machines to neighboring Canada, as well as Latin American countries.

Amnon Lahad, chairman of Family Medicine at the Hebrew University, found the real situation quite contrary to such expectations “that the United States would lead and that there would be a global response.”

“There should have been an agreement on the implementation of World Health Organization (WHO) decisions. But every country made their own policy,” Lahad told Xinhua.

Noting that politics have overshadowed the response process, he said that the current crisis “became a political problem rather than a health problem.”

“Medicine mixed with politics, which made decision-making difficult,” he said.

“What we witnessed is not a global world,” Ronni Gamzu, CEO of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, told Xinhua, adding that the lack of cooperation against the epidemic has also darkened the global economic outlook.




In the face of the deadly virus, experts have urged countries to make changes as soon as possible, such as by forming cohesive policies on developing vaccines.

The international community should coordinate a push for progress in research for vaccines and treatment, they said.

Lahad warned that under the current circumstances, “vaccines will be distributed unevenly, not according to morbidity but according to financial or manufacturing abilities.”

Still, he said the above-mentioned situation could be avoided with firm international resolve, adding that global leaders must not be shortsighted when dealing with this global issue.

The experts also called on countries to set the same standard on pre-travel testing, and to form a common policy on how to compensate people who were and may still be hit by travel bans and flight cancellations.

“Now is the time to begin working,” Lahad said, adding, “there should be an international summit with experts from all countries that will manage the crisis before a second wave.”

The WHO needs to improve its operative multi-national arm,” suggested Gamzu, calling for solidarity among the members of the global agency.


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Washington using pandemic to pursue unilateralism, play blame games — experts




The U.S. administration led by President Donald Trump is taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to pursue unilateral policies while pinning the blame for a mismanaged national health emergency on others, said experts from Latin America.

Trump has repeatedly tried to scapegoat the World Health Organization (WHO), claiming the United States is paying the price for the agency’s mishandling of the pandemic, Guatemalan political observer and former diplomat Manuel Villacorta told Xinhua.

At a time when the international community should be more united than ever, Trump is pulling the United States out of the WHO citing the global body’s alleged mishandling of the novel coronavirus outbreak, said Villacorta, describing the move as a grave error.

In fact, the U.S. handling of the health emergency has been “devastating,” he said, noting upwards of 100,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, more than any other country, and 40 million Americans have lost their jobs and numerous businesses have gone under.

That’s why President Trump is looking to blame someone else. First he did it with China and now he’s doing it with the WHO — an unprecedented political mistake,” said Villacorta, who served as Guatemala’s ambassador to Israel.

Other Latin American observers agree that the U.S. government fails to take action after the WHO declared COVID-19 a global emergency on Jan. 30.

Not only did Washington drop the ball on taking timely preventive measures, but its inaction shows that the United States is not leading a global initiative of this kind, said Argentine political columnist Andres Oppenheimer.

“Instead of launching a serious campaign to promote social distancing, and ordering tests and ventilators, Trump constantly minimized the pandemic,” Oppenheimer wrote in a May 4 article.

What Washington has done is using the pandemic as an excuse to unilaterally fast-track deportations of undocumented immigrants across the border into Mexico, without considering the health implications amid the pandemic.

A so-called “expedited removal,” which allows authorities to deport immigrants without going through the normal legal process of holding hearings before an immigration judge, began on March 21. In a few weeks, about 10,000 immigrants, many from Central America, had been deported to Mexico.

The prestigious El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (El Colef), a Mexican research center that studies Mexico-U.S. border issues, recently warned that “the United States‘ unilateral and rapid deportations of migrants to Mexico at late hours of the night make it difficult to provide these migrants with a medical check-up and follow-up, and raise the possibility that infected persons are entering the country.”

According to Claudia Masferrer, a research professor at Mexico City’s El Colegio de Mexico, the pandemic has become an excuse for Trump to continue cracking down on migrants.

For President Trump … migrants have always been scapegoats for everything,” said Masferrer.


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Spotlight: Turkish health experts call for vigilance amid reopening of restaurants




Turkey has taken an important step towards normalization on Monday, allowing restaurants, cafes and many shops to reopen after more than two months of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, but health specialists call for vigilance.

Restaurants and cafes were permitted to serve customers again, as long as they adhere to physical distancing rules established by the health ministry.

Museums, some gyms and pools, and also public parks also opened their doors. Worshippers were allowed to return to mosques for prayers, wearing masks and obeying distancing rules.

Istanbul’s landmarks, the Grand Bazaar and the ottoman Topkapi palace, have begun to receive visitors.

Despite cloudy weather following a rainy weekend, many young people returned to the cafes in downtown Ankara.

“We have been waiting for this day for a long time, we really want to go to normal life, as possible as we can. It is difficult to stay at home when the weather is so good (in previous weeks),” Ece Tekin, a university student, told Xinhua in a shop located on the busy Tunali Hilmi Avenue.

The young women, who was sipping coffee with a mask under her chin, said that she was still alert about the situation.

“I will try to make the best of this time because I don’t know if it will last. People are talking of a new wave of outbreak, I hope it will not be the case and hopefully we will wake up from what seems a science fiction movie,” she said.

The restaurant staff are required to wear masks and gloves. Social distancing rules also limited the businesses to run at around 50 percent capacity.

“It’s hot and wearing with this protective gear is not easy, but we must do, at least the customers are back,” said a waiter. “Although we cannot accommodate them all, we are glad to be back and trying to adapt to this.”

Tables were also moved further apart and disinfectants were placed on them.

In the Segmenler and Kugulu parks located nearby, people were enjoying timid rays of sunshine, but some of them were not wearing masks.

The two-month lockdown brings significant setback for most of the restaurants and cafes, which were already hit by high inflation before the outbreak.

Some shops have closed in downtown Kizilay, as they were unable to afford the rent and personnel wages during the lockdown.

The number of new infections in Turkey has been dropping each day, according to health officials who still urged for vigilance against a resurgence of the pandemic.

“We must remain vigilant and wear masks when we go outside. Whether there will be a resurgence depends on how we are protecting ourselves and others. We can do it if we abide by three rules: masks, distancing and hygiene,” tweeted professor Tevfik Ozlu, a virologist and member of the Coronavirus Science Board.

Some citizens and scientists are uneasy about the progress of normalization, which they argued is too fast as daily infections numbers are still around 800-900.

“While the outbreak is not fully under control, opening kindergartens, shopping centers and gyms, which are common places, poses a serious risk,” said public health expert Tugrul Erbaydar.

“This normalization is going too fast,” he stressed, hoping that the country doesn’t return back “to square one” in its fight against the coronavirus.

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Chinese medical experts awarded by Serbia for assistance in fighting COVID-19




Another three members of a six-strong Chinese expert medical team to Serbia were awarded on Monday with military memorial medals for their assistance in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The medals were awarded by Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin to the three members, who arrived on May 4 to replace their colleagues.

Following the award ceremony, Cheng Shouzhen, a member of the Chinese medical team, said the team has toured many places in Serbia, such as COVID-19 hospitals, elderly care facilities, and child care centers.

“We shared our experience gained in China and especially in Wuhan. We openly exchanged suggestions and opinions in line with the current epidemiological situation about treatment of patients, abolition of the state of emergency, gradual return to work and restarting production, as well as opening borders,” she said.

Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo congratulated the country on excellent response to COVID-19, adding that the joint battle against the pandemic strengthened ties between the two countries.

“The Chinese expert medical team to Serbia became a symbol of the friendship between our two countries,” Chen said.

Defense Minister Vulin thanked the Chinese experts for their help. “We learned from you as doctors, but also as human beings. You have demonstrated discipline, endurance and diligence,” he said.

The Chinese medical expert team has been assisting Serbia in fighting the COVID-19 since March 21. On May 6, Serbia lifted the state of emergency, and opened borders for passengers recently.


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Chinese medical experts in Sudan hold video conference about COVID-19




Chinese medical experts in Sudan on Sunday held a video conference with Chinese people in the country over the prevention of COVID-19.

Workers from Chinese companies and Chinese people living in Sudan participated in the video conference, during which Chinese medical experts answered questions related to the coronavirus and introduced the personal protection measures.

The Chinese medical team arrived in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Thursday from Algeria after ending its two-week anti-coronavirus mission there.

“We are paying attention to the collection of questions and give more video exchanges in recent days,” Zhou Lin, the expert team leader, told Xinhua.

On May 30, the medical experts were divided into two groups for the anti-coronavirus mission in Sudan. One of them provided an on-site training for the Chinese doctors from Omdurman Friendship Hospital of Sudan.

The other group went to an office of a Chinese company in Sudan to give an on-site training to the staff.

China has offered help to Sudan in its fight against COVID-19.

In late March, the Chinese Embassy in Sudan donated over 400,000 surgical masks to the Sudanese government.

On April 23, Chinese medical experts held a video conference with Sudanese counterparts to share China‘s experiences in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.


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Experts call for inclusive slums upgrade in Lagos,other cities



Some experts on Saturday called  for the upgrade  of slums in Nigeria through sustained efforts to build resilient cities that would enhance good health and welfare of  the residents.


The experts who made the calls  at a zoom meeting organised by the Lagos State Chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP),also said that such upgrade would protect the environment.


The theme of the meeting was: `’Cities beyond Pandemic’’.


They urged leaders in Lagos State and across the country to plan for  inclusive urban settlements that would reduce migration,tackle infrastructure problems,  and avert spread of diseases from overcrowding.


The experts also called for sustained slums upgrade plans for local communities that would make electricity, education, transportation, security, employment and mass housing availalable to the residents.


In her presentation, Chiara Tomaselli, the Urban Resilience Project Manager, Resilience, Sixense Engineering, Paris, stressed the need for knowledge to face the uncertainties of COVID-19.


Tomaselli ,who spoke on:  “Managing Cities Development Need in Post Pandemic’’, said that ignorance and limited resources were some  of the challenges facing  African cities in preventing outbreak of  diseases.


She called on African  leaders to  immediately begin to address underlying issue of infrastructure deficit that had given rise to urban slums.


Tomaselli commended the Lagos State  Government’s response to COVID-19,adding that it was important for the state to build urban resilience that would  provide good transportation,health and other needs for her citizens.


“We need to increase mobility without compromising health issues. Mobility shouldn’t ignore climate change.


“Also public health capturing in urban metropolitan area is important to curb the transmission of the virus. Improper water and sanitation also lead to outbreaks, ” she said.


She, however, warned that realistic planning should capture the most vulnerable people through adequate provision of affordable food, shelter and other basic needs.


“We have to know  that cities are places of opportunities and they will keep growing,” she said.


According to her, technology can be used to tackle the problem of overpopulation citing Japan and Korea as examples of countries leveraging on technology to deal with congestion.


Also,  Mr Nelson De Lamare, a climate change expert, emphasised the importance of the local government in driving clean climate agenda  that would have direct impact on a healthy environment.


Lamare said  that carbon emissions had reduced in several countries due to the COVID-19  pandemic as  there had been less industrial activities and vehicular movement.


He, however, noted that the difference in carbon emissions was not so visible in Lagos because of inadequate power supply which had  increased the use of generators inspite of the COVID-19 lockdown.


“Fighting climate change does not only require behavioural changes but also systemic changes,” he said.


Lamare listed other causes of climate change linked to human action, and called for a need to  reduce both the COVID-19 curve and that of global warming  for more resilient cities.


He said that the global warming curve could only be flattened if local authorities take swift political decisions to safeguard both health and the environment.


Lamare said that town planners should be at the forefront of driving resilient cities agenda while calling for political will on the part of leaders to evolve and implement policies.


“Post pandemic recovery plans must tackle the climate crisis by improving how cities are built, organised and used, by adjusting policies towards greener and cleaner economies and increasing resilience to future crisis.


“Mainstream climate mitigation and adaptation properties in stimulus packages and investments to recover from the crisis, while setting accompanying measures for the most vulnerable groups who may be disproportionately affected,’’ he said.


Also,  Mr Paul Okunlola, the Program Officer of UN Habitat in Abuja ,said that  COVID-19 had shut down economic and social activities in several countries including Nigeria.


Okunlola said that the crisis had presented opportunities for town planners to drive the agenda of tackling challenges of urbanisation and urban slums.


He gave statistics of COVID-19 incidences and fatalities in countries and compared the figures with Ebola crisis, and called for focus on how cities develop and  enforce planning to remove pressure on infrastructure.


“Urban planning will need  a new Central role in the post COVID-19 recovery era. The stimulation presents a unique opportunity to rethink the way cities are planned, built and managed,’’ he said.


He called for a new city plan that  would capture the informal sector and the poor to accommodate changing travel, shopping and work lifestyles of urban dwellers.


An architect,Mr Jorgen Andersen, who spoke  on “Pandemics and Planning in African Cities’’ also noted the  huge infrastructure deficit due to lack of sustained planning.


Andersen, an associate professor at the  Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture, Denmark, made slide presentations of poor living densities of various African communities including Mokoko in Lagos State, vunerable to  COVID-19 infection.


According to him, most of the inhabitants lived and worked in the informal economy in compact settlements and houses which make social distancing impossible.


“How can you have social distancing when we live in settings like this, how can you go into self isolation if you are living in a condition like this. This is a challenge for regional and urban planners.


“In order to build better cities  preparing for future pandemics, communities should be carried along to become involved, upgrade slums.


“Planning is governance and governance is about interest ,and it should capture the ordinary people,’’ he said.

Edited /Peter Dada

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Experts on U.S. filing frivolous lawsuits against China over COVID-19




It is a premeditated political conspiracy for some U.S. politicians to request so-called “compensation” from China over the loss from the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese experts said.

The law only protects the legitimate right of action and reasonable demands, said Huang Huikang, a member of the International Law Commission of the United Nations.

Making false accusations and frivolous lawsuits are against the principles of equity and justice, and will disrupt social order and waste judicial resources, Huang noted in an article carried by Thursday’s Guangming Daily, adding that such acts have always been banned by laws of various countries.

Huang called such accusations and lawsuits a “political farce” and voiced against politicizing the pandemic.

China, where COVID-19 was first identified, has made valuable contributions to the fight against the virus and the protection of rights to life and health, said Liu Huawen, vice-director of the Institute of International Law under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

In an article published in Friday’s Guangming Daily, Liu said considering that source tracing of the virus has not seen notable progress, some U.S. politicians and a small number of legal figures are already eager to shift the blame to China, blatantly violating the principle of state immunity, which is also acknowledged by the U.S. laws and legal precedents.

China and the Chinese government are exempt from the jurisdiction of other country’s courts, meaning that they cannot be listed as defendants in such lawsuits, said Xu Guojian, a lawyer based in Shanghai, in an article in Friday’s Legal Daily.

The lawsuits demanding compensation from China over COVID-19 lack legitimate and reasonable excuses, Xu said.

It makes no sense for serious and scrupulous legal workers to file lawsuits against China merely based on media reports and ideas from academic papers, said Xu.

Claiming China‘s coronavirus response as a “commercial action” will be hardly supported by the court, said Wang Zhengzhi, a lawyer based in Beijing, in an article in Saturday’s Legal Daily.

Stressing that the global impact of the novel coronavirus is not caused by China‘s epidemic containment measures, Wang noted that the source of the virus remains unknown so far.


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Greece-China cooperation under BRI will progress despite COVID-19 pandemic: officials, experts




After the initial shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, China reiterated during the just-concluded “Two Sessions” its determination to further increase trade and investment ties with countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Greek officials, experts and entrepreneurs told Xinhua here in recent interviews that Greece-China cooperation under the BRI will undoubtedly progress with strong momentum to the benefit of both sides.

“I said from the first moment this crisis broke out that we will not allow COVID-19 to harm Greece-China relations,” Adonis Georgiadis, Minister of Development and Investment, wrote in a written statement to Xinhua.

“We believe in the ties between the two countries. We appreciate China as a true friend of Greece and a significant investor in our country… All our investment plans continue normally, and we are waiting for our Chinese friends to continue with even greater momentum,” he noted.

The Greek minister also expressed his admiration for the way in which the Chinese government has dealt with the pandemic, stressing that this global crisis affects all of humanity regardless of race, nationality or religion, and that “all together humanity will move forward.”

China‘s COSCO Shipping Taurus docks at Piraeus port, Greece, Feb. 26, 2018. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)

China‘s COSCO Shipping Taurus docks at Piraeus port, Greece, Feb. 26, 2018. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)

Nicolas A. Vernicos, vice chair of the Silk Road Chamber of International Commerce, and Fotis Provatas, chairman of the Chamber of Greek-Chinese Economic Cooperation, highlighted the success of the flagship investment project of China‘s COSCO Shipping in Piraeus, Greece‘s largest port, over the past decade, saying they were confident that Greece and China will take further steps to boost bilateral economic cooperation.

The image of the Port of Piraeus has improved drastically in recent years through a series of upgrades that continue this year despite the novel coronavirus challenge.

In the framework of China‘s new Maritime Silk Road project under the BRI, Greece and the Port of Piraeus — which under Chinese management has become the largest container port in the Mediterranean — provide a secure hub for Chinese traders and investors in the countries of the central, southern and eastern Europe as well as in the countries of the Mediterranean, Vernicos and Provatas noted.

“Now is the appropriate moment for China and Greece to bolster their trade and investment cooperation in order to win back the time lost during the pandemic,” the two entrepreneurs agreed.

“We are working intensively to create a great ‘Mediterranean Silk Road Alliance‘ in our region that will unite the most active entrepreneurial organizations in our broader area to support, enforce and guarantee the BRI‘s development policies,” they said.

Vasilis Trigkas, research fellow at the Belt & Road Strategy Centre at China‘s Tsinghua University, was also confident that the BRI will move forward to the benefit of all its participants.

Photo taken on Nov. 7, 2019 shows the Piraeus Port in Greece. (Xinhua/Fei Maohua)

Photo taken on Nov. 7, 2019 shows the Piraeus Port in Greece. (Xinhua/Fei Maohua)

Asked about the state of Sino-Greek collaboration today, he highlighted the great potential in the tourism sector, a pillar in the Greek economy.

The sector, which helped pull Greece out of the bailouts era in the past decade, has suffered a significant blow this year due to the pandemic. The summer season will start with a delay and the country will most likely not manage to break a new record for arrivals, as it did in previous years.

Considering that both China and Greece have managed to limit the scale of the pandemic within their territories, there is a great opportunity for Chinese tourists to make Greece their No.1 summer destination, especially since Greece will be the safest destination in Europe, Trigkas stressed.

Fanis Soulis, a tour operator who over the past eight years has been living and working in Beijing and continues to help enhance bilateral cooperation in tourism, has no doubt that this is a great opportunity for both sides.

China has been the world‘s largest market in outbound tourism since 2012, growing at a fast rate over the last decades. As a tourism professional working in China for many years, I can reassure you that the majority of Chinese travelers favor and think highly of Greece as a tourism destination,” he told Xinhua.

In order to make the most of this opportunity, Soulis suggested that Greece should modify its planning and operational model when it comes to attracting and welcoming Chinese travelers. He proposed, for example, more promotional campaigns targeting Chinese travelers’ special needs and introducing lesser-known destinations across Greece.


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