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Over 90 pct of COVID-19 deaths in Ireland aged over 65

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Over 90 percent of the people who have died from COVID-19 in Ireland were those aged over 65, said the country’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) on Friday.

A total of 1,518 people had died from COVID-19 as of May 15 since the country reported its first COVID-19-related death on March 11, said the CSO, adding that an analysis of these death figures showed that almost 92 of them were elderly people aged over 65.

The death figures came from the Health Protection Surveillance Center (HPSC) of Ireland, said the CSO.

HPSC is an official organization responsible for collecting and releasing the COVID-19-related figures in Ireland.

The analysis of the HPSC figures revealed that people aged over 65 were the hardest hit group among all the age groups during the pandemic, said the CSO.

Almost 88 percent of the people who died from COVID-19 had underlying conditions, said the CSO, adding that the median age of these deaths was 83, the same as that for all deaths.

The CSO’s analysis also showed that the highest amount of COVID-19-related deaths occurred during the week ending April 17 when 270 people lost their lives while the lowest amount of deaths took place during the week ending May 15 when only 65 people died.

Ireland reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on Feb. 29. As of Thursday, there were altogether 24,391 people who have contracted COVID-19 in Ireland and 1,583 of them have died of the disease, according to the Irish Department of Health.

(XINHUA)

Olawale Olukoga: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

Foreign

Niger lost $120 million in arms deals over three years Gov’t audit

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Almost 40 per cent of the $312 million Niger spent on defence procurement contracts, over the last three years, was lost through inflated costs or materiel that was not delivered, according to a government audit of military contracts seen by Reuters.

The deals for military vehicles, ammunition and attack helicopters were mainly signed with local contractors who then sourced from firms abroad, including Ukraine, France, Russia and China.

Niger, an ally for France and the U.S. in the fight against Islamic State and al Qaeda-linked extremists in the Sahel, is one of the world’s poorest countries but has ramped up military spending in the last few years.

Hundreds of Nigerien troops have been killed in fighting and soldiers frequently complain about conditions on the frontline.

The audit was handed to Niger’s top prosecutor in April, who said at the time those involved would be held accountable.

The government spokesman referred Reuters to the prosecutor for comment.

The audit, which reviewed 177 contracts struck between 2017 and 2019, concluded the state had lost a total of 71.8 billion CFA ($120 million) from total spending of 185.9 billion CFA.

“The suppliers unanimously recognised the accusations that were made against them,’’ the report said.

It added that public officials, who were in charge of the procedures, were also to be blamed.

The report found numerous cases of unfair and fictitious competition.

In one case, three companies belonging to the same supplier competed against each other for the same contract.

“By giving the illusion of competition, the supplier imposed the price by disqualifying the fake competitors that he had chosen himself,” it said.

A provisional report, completed in February, found that a total of 76.1 billion CFA had been lost.

However, this final report includes further evidence and the cross-questioning of suppliers, who provided further explanations on the contracts.

Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world with a GDP of around $9 billion, according to the World Bank.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Foreign

Kenyan government under fire over quarantine centres

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Kenya’s government is facing growing criticism over quarantine centres it set up to curb the spread of the coronavirus, with witnesses saying some are squalid and expose residents to the risk of contracting COVID-19.

Since mid-March, the government has enforced a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for anyone who flies into the country,or has direct contact with someone infected and lives in an area where self-isolation is not allowed.

Those who can pay spend the quarantine in an upmarket hotel.

Others are placed in government-run facilities established in buildings such as schools or universities.

Demonstrations have broken out in some centres, break-outs have been reported, and the government faces two lawsuits over alleged mistreatment which it has yet to respond to.

Reuters interviewed 12 people who have spent time in quarantine in the government-run centres; meanwhile two said conditions were satisfactory.

The other 10, who asked not to be identified to avoid stigma, described filthy conditions with bedbugs, overflowing toilets and bad food.

Reuters sought comment from the facilities where these people were housed but telephone and text messages sent over several weeks received no responses.

Health Ministry spokeswoman Judy Sirima declined comment.

One woman told Reuters she was quarantined at Nairobi’s Kenya Medical Training Centre for two weeks and tested negative for the coronavirus.

Then others at the facility, where people were crowded together at mealtimes, tested positive, although she was kept another week, and then tested positive too.

“I got it from the quarantine; we were sharing washrooms; we were sharing everything,” she said.

However, Reuters could not verify where she contracted the virus.

A woman in quarantine at the Karen Cooperative Retreat and Conference Centre said she and others received no protective gear.

“We are not given masks; no gloves, no sanitiser,” she said.

However, neither facility responded to requests for comment.

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye (NAN)

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Foreign

Iranian president urges parliament’s cooperation to overcome problems

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday called for cooperation of the new Iranian parliament with his administration to overcome the existing problems.

Addressing the opening session of Iran’s new parliament, Rouhani said that the government is “seeking cooperation with the parliament at this tough year.”

Cooperation between the two major institutions of the Islamic establishment will help defeat U.S. sanctions and contain the novel coronavirus, he said.

Iran’s new parliament for the next four years kicked off on Wednesday.

The 11th parliamentary elections of the Islamic republic were held on February 21.

The Iranian parliament has 290 members who are elected by the people for four-year terms.

(XINHUA)

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Oil & Gas

Oil-crisis: IPMAN commends FG over stable supply, distribution of PMS

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Chairman of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Kano State branch, Alhaji Bashir Danmallam, has lauded the Federal Government for its steadfastness in ensuring that the oil industry remained robust.

Speaking with newsmen in Kano on Wednesday, the chairman observed that despite the near collapse of oil prices occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic, the oil industry in Nigeria did not suffer much setback.

He reiterated that the Federal government took swift measures and ensured constant and uninterrupted supply and distribution of petroleum products across the country.

He further commended the Federal authorities for its tireless effort in ensuring interfacing with various state governments, which also guaranteed seamless and hitch-free movement of petroleum products to service stations nationwide.

The IPMAN chairman also commended the Federal Government for its humanitarian efforts in lending a helping hand by providing equipment in support of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Danmalam assured government of his association’s commitment to supporting moves  aimed at  sustaining uninterrupted supply of petroleum products across the country.

The chairman further urged other stakeholders to follow suit so as to ensure adequate supply and distribution of the commodity in the country.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma (NAN)

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Environment

Abia monarch raises alarm over erosion threat to Imo River Bridge

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Eze Philip Ajomiwe, the Traditional Ruler of Oriendu Autonomous Community of Abia, has raised the alarm over the impact of erosion threatening the Imo River Bridge situated in the area.

Ajomiwe, who conducted newsmen round the bridge on Wednesday, expressed concern over the washing away of some portions of the bridge by erosion.

He feared that the facility might collapse “soon if urgent steps are not taken to arrest the menace.

“I appeal to both Abia and Imo governments to save the bridge from imminent collapse,” he said.

The monarch said that the bridge helped to shorten the transportation time of goods and persons between Ohuhu axis of Umuahia North Local Government Area (LGA), of Abia and Ihite Uboma LGA of Imo.

He said that the bridge was constructed by the Niger Delta Development Commission in 2004, during the tenure of Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, an indigene of the area, as chairman.

He said that before the bridge was constructed, his people usually travelled to Umuahia town to board vehicles whenever they wanted to travel to their neighbouring Ihite Uboma communities.

“The bridge made it easy for our people to travel straight to Ihite Uboma and Owerri within few minutes without going through Umuahia.

Ajomiwe described the bridge as a great asset to both Abia and Imo, saying that it facilitated rapid development in the neighbouring Abia North and Ihite Uboma communities in Imo.

He further decried the alarming rate of gully erosion in the Southeast, saying that available statistics showed that Abia alone had about 1,000 active erosion sites.

He said that the menace had wreaked havoc in many communities in the zone, rendering many people homeless.

The monarch, therefore, called on the federal and state governments to urgently address the erosion problem in the zone.

Edited By: Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Foreign

Palestine warns Israeli annexation would extend all over West Bank

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Palestine on Wednesday warned that the Israeli plan to annex parts of the West Bank territory will extend to take over the entire territory, urging the international community to prevent it.

Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization Saeb Erekat told the official Palestinian radio station that “the Israeli plan is fully backed by the United States.”

“There is an American green light to Israel to go ahead and annex all of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which would be the biggest attempt to take over Palestinian lands and undermine the chances of establishing an independent Palestinian state,” he said.

The Palestinian leadership is holding contacts with world leaders, Erekat added.

He urged the international community to intervene with serious steps to prevent Israel from going ahead with its plan to take over wide areas of the West Bank.

At the same time, Erekat warned of a possible “escalation” on the ground in light of the Palestinian decision to abolish ties with Israel and the United States last week over Netanyahu’s move.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

European Commission proposes borrowing 750 bln euros as recovery fund

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The European Commission on Wednesday proposed borrowing 750 billion euros (826 billion U.S. dollars) in its name from the financial market to help the world‘s largest trading bloc recover from a recession owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

The money is proposed to be channeled to member states through European Union programs and repaid over a long period of time throughout future EU budgets, not before 2028 and not after 2058.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Wharton dean expects global economic recovery to take longer amid COVID-19

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Global economic recovery is expected to “take a longer time” as countries slowly start to loosen containment measures amid COVID-19, Geoffrey Garrett, dean of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a recent video interview with Xinhua.

“Part of that will be logistical. It’s just really hard, for example, to rebuild global supply chains or open them up,” Garrett said, noting that reopening the economy will be a gradual process.

“But I think the bigger element is psychological. People are going to have to be confident enough to go back to live the daily lives. And I think that’s just going to take some time,” he said.

When asked about the major challenges for the global economy, the Wharton dean said “the fact that demand has collapsed in this economic hibernation is just a profound thing.” However, that demand could come back, he added.

Another key challenge, Garrett believes, is that good businesses could go bankrupt because of a lack of revenue, and government bailouts are not unlimited. “I think that would slow the recovery,” he said.

Despite the overall gloomy picture, Garrett has seen a silver lining. “The two obvious things to say, that technology and healthcare companies will do well coming out of the crisis,” he said, noting that NASDAQ, a U.S. stock index powered by big tech companies, is actually up for the year.

Beyond that, Garrett highlighted the potential for the finance sector, saying that the world of private equity, hedge funds and venture capital will “probably boom” during the pandemic as they did after the global financial crisis.

Looking back to the period after the 2008 financial crisis, Garrett said major governments, including China, the United States and Britain, had taken enormous action in response to the crisis, and also had lots of collaboration and coordination mostly through the Group of 20.

“I think that kind of international collaboration has just been absent so far in response to the pandemic. And I hope we can change that,” said Garrett, noting that each country’s fiscal and monetary stimulus, though strong and appropriate, has a national and inward-looking focus.

“It’s understandable for governments to want to use national policy tools to affect the national economy. But if they can do that in a way that promotes international coordination and international openness, that’s a better way to go,” he said.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Roundup: Tokyo stocks close higher on continued hopes for economic recoveries

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Tokyo stocks closed higher Wednesday after early losses were recouped, as continued hopes for increased economic activity in Japan and other countries, where coronavirus pandemic restrictions have been eased, bolstered risk appetite.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average added 148.06 points, or 0.70 percent, from Tuesday to close the day at 21,419.23.

The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, meanwhile, gained 14.74 points, or 0.96 percent, to finish at 1,549.47.

After an initial round of profit-taking in early trade following the market’s steep rise a day earlier, buying was underpinned by continued hopes that global economies, including Japan’s, where virus-linked restrictions have been eased and will see a revival in economic activities.

Market analysts said in terms of global industrial output hampered by the coronavirus pandemic, the worst had been overcome.

“The underlying consensus is that factory activities have seen the worst period on the virus front,” Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co., was quoted as saying.

The yen’s softer tone versus the U.S. dollar also contributed to a largely upbeat mood that saw losses in earlier trade recouped and gains extended.

While helping exporter issues reliant on a weak yen to boost profits when repatriated, a softer yen versus the U.S. currency usually buoys the broader market, investment analysts here highlighted.

The U.S. dollar was quoted at 107.52-53 yen at 5 p.m. local time, compared with 107.52-62 yen in New York and 107.82-83 yen at 5 p.m. on Tuesday in Tokyo.

The euro, meanwhile, fetched 1.0964-0965 dollars and 117.89-93 yen against 1.0977-0987 dollars and 118.06-16 yen in New York and 1.0934-0936 dollars and 117.89-93 yen in late Tuesday afternoon trade in Tokyo.

Financial issues, including banking, insurance and securities, found favor, with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group adding 3.6 percent, while Nomura Holdings climbed 5.7 percent. Dai-ichi Life Holdings, meanwhile, closed the day 6.3 percent higher.

Nissan Motor accelerated 5.5 percent, after reports said the automaker is planning a hefty cost cutting initiative to mitigate the effects the global pandemic has had on its sales and output.

Semiconductor-linked issues came under pressure, however, with Advantest Corp. sliding 2.7 percent, while Tokyo Electron Ltd. lost 3.6 percent by the close.

Transportation-oriented issues also tracked lower, as investors took profits following the sectors’ recent rally triggered by Japan completely lifting its state of emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic on Monday.

ANA Holdings Inc. fell 2.0 percent, while West Japan Railway Co. finished 2.8 percent lower.

By the close of play, securities house, iron and steel and rubber product-linked issues comprised those that gained the most, and issues that rose outpaced those that fell by 1,431 to 662 on the First Section, while 77 ended the day unchanged.

On the main section on Wednesday, 1.763 billion shares changed hands, rising from Tuesday’s volume of 1.472 billion shares.

The turnover on the third trading day of the week came to 2.875 trillion yen (26.694 billion U.S. dollars).

(XINHUA)

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