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COVID-19: Africa Doing Better Than Other Continents — WHO Declares

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared that Africa is doing better than other continents in the management of the coronavirus pandemic with lowest number of cases and deaths so far recorded.

Figures it released yesterday showed that Africa has 1.5 per cent of global reported cases of COVID-19 and less than 0.1 per cent of deaths.

Latest COVID-19 Situation Report–127 (Data as received by WHO by 10:00 CEST, May 26, 2020) showed that Africa has 83,044 cases and 2,214 deaths compared to 5,404,512 global cases and 343,514 deaths.

America has highest number of cases with 2,454,452 and 143,739 deaths, followed by Europe with 2,041,705 cases and 173,213 deaths; Eastern Mediterranean with 438,900 cases 11,293 deaths; South-East Asia with 210,273 cases and 6,140 deaths; and Western Pacific with 175,397 cases and 6,902 deaths.

Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the media briefing on May 25, 2020, said, “So far, although around half of the countries in the region have community transmissions, concentrated mainly in major cities, Africa is the least-affected region globally in terms of the number of cases and deaths reported to WHO.

“Africa has 1.5 per cent of the world’s reported cases of COVID-19 and less than 0.1 per cent of the deaths. Of course, these numbers don’t paint the full picture, because testing capacity in Africa is still being ramped up and there is a likelihood that some cases may be missed.”

However, a professor of pharmacology and pioneer Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), Professor Charles Wambebe and Chairman, Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists of Nigeria (AHAPN), Dr. Kingsley Chiedu Amibor, have explained why chloroquine should be useful in the management of COVID-19.

Wambebe said, “From theoretical considerations, chloroquine should be useful in the management of COVID-19. Firstly, chloroquine has antiviral activity. The Chinese scientists confirmed it before they started using it to treat their patients. Secondly chloroquine has immune-modulatory property.

“There is a current trial involving hydroxychloroquine in Australia which involved about 2000 patients. It is called Ascot Trial, which is still in progress.”

Meanwhile, the WHO and United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) have explained why women who have contracted COVID-19 could breastfeed their babies.

A new report they released yesterday in conjunction with the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) encouraged women to continue breastfeeding their children even if they have the virus.

“While researchers continue to test breast milk from mothers with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, current evidence indicate that it is unlikely that COVID-19 would be transmitted through breastfeeding or by giving breast milk that has been expressed by a mother who have COVID-19.

“The benefits of breastfeeding substantially outweigh the potential risks of illness associated with the virus. It is not safer to give infant formula milk,” it noted.

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Africa

AU Disqualifies Okonjo-Iweala From Vying For World Trade Organisation Director General

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The African Union has disqualified Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala from vying for the office of the Director General of the World Trade Organisation, it has been reported.

In July 2019, the Executive Council of the AU invited member states to present nominations into the office of the DG of the WTO so that the AU would agree on a consensus candidature.

Nigeria initially nominated Fedrick Agah while Benin and Egypt fielded Messrs Eloi Laourou and Abdulhameed Mamdouh respectively.

On June 4, 2020, Nigeria withdrew the nomination of Fedrick Agah and replaced him with Okonjo-Iweala.

However, in a document from the Office of the Legal Counsel of the African Union, Reference Number: BC/OLC/24/5056.20 dated June 15, 2020, the African Union says the nomination of Okonjo-Iweala violates Rule (11), 1, 2 and 3, Rule 12 and Rule 15(3) of the rules of procedure of the committee on candidatures within the International System of the AU as well as Council’s Decisions Ex CI 1072 (XXXV), Ec CI Dec 1090 (XXXVI) and Assembly Dec 795 (XXXIII).

The AU says its Executive Council had endorsed the nominations of Fedrick Agah, Eloi Laourou and Abdulhameed Mamdouh before Nigeria sought to substitute its nomination.

Meanwhile, the council’s endorsement was for the nominees in person and not for their countries.

In addition, the AU says Nigeria’s new nomination of Okonjo-Iweala did not meet the submission deadline and there are no more vacancies into, which Nigeria can make nomination.

The AU wrote, “It is a recognised principle of international law that a sovereign state has the right to substitute and replace a nomination of its citizens as it may wish for a position.

“However, the sovereign right does not endow that state any right to change existing rules, relevant decisions of the Executive Council and decisions of the ther policy organs of the union. A decision of the Executive Council should only be changed by another decision of the council not by any member state and a decision of the Assembly should be changed by a decision of the Assembly not by a member state.”

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China Assures Africa On Coronavirus Vaccine

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Chinese President

The President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, has assured African countries that they would be among the first countries to benefit from a coronavirus vaccine being developed by China.

The Embassy of China in Nigeria made the pledge in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.

According to the statement, Jinping made the pledge in his keynote address on Wednesday in Beijing at the virtual extraordinary China-Africa Summit with African Presidents on solidarity against COVID-19.

He said that listing African countries as first beneficiaries of its vaccines was part of China’s support to Africa’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, explaining that effective response called for solidarity among world leaders.

“First, we must stay committed to fighting COVID-19 together. China will continue to do whatever it can to support Africa’s response to COVID-19.

“China will lose no time in following through on the measures I announced at the opening of the World Health Assembly.

“We will continue to help African countries by providing supplies, sending expert teams and facilitating Africa’s procurement of medical supplies in China.

“China will start ahead of schedule, the construction of the Africa CDC headquarters this year.

“China will work with Africa to fully deliver the health care initiative adopted at the FOCAC Beijing Summit, and speed up the construction of China-Africa Friendship Hospitals.

“We will also speed up cooperation between paired-up Chinese and African hospitals and together, we will build a China-Africa community of health for all.

“We pledge that once the development and deployment of COVID-19 vaccine is completed in China, African countries will be among the first to benefit.’’

Jinping noted that in the face of COVID-19, China and Africa had offered mutual support to each other and that China would remember the invaluable support from Africa at the peak of its coronavirus battle.

He added that when Africa was struck by the virus, China was the first nation to rush in assistance and had since stood firm with the African people.

Jinping stated that COVID-19 was still affecting many parts of the world, stressing the need for both China and Africa to face the task of combating the virus while stabilising the economy and protecting people’s livelihoods.

He stressed the need for leaders to mobilise necessary resources, stick together in collaboration and do whatever they could to protect people’s lives and health.

The Chinese president noted that greater priority needed to be given to cooperation on public health, economic re-opening and people’s livelihoods.

Jinping stated that through the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) framework, China would cancel debts of some African countries in the form of interest-free loans, due to mature by the end of 2020.

“For those African countries that are hardest hit by the coronavirus and are under heavy financial stress, China will work with the global community to give them greater support.

“We encourage Chinese financial institutions to respond to the G-20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative and to hold friendly consultations with African countries according to market principles.”

Jinping said that China would work with the UN, WHO and other partners to assist Africa’s response to COVID-19 and do it in a way that would respect the will of Africa.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that participants at the virtual summit included, President Muhammadu Buhari, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, Chair of the African Union, among others.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Director-General of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus were invited as special guests to the summit.

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President Magufuli Declares Tanzania Free Of Coronavirus

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President John Magufuli of Tanzania on Monday June 8, declared the East African country “coronavirus-free”.

The President who attributed the claimed success over the worldwide pandemic to prayers and fasting that the people of Tanzania offered to God, also commended the priest and worshippers for not wearing gloves and masks to protect themselves from the virus.

Magufuli said;

“It gives me joy to be the leader of a country that puts God first, God loves Tanzania.

“The works of the devil will always be defeated in Tanzania because Tanzanians love God and that is why even the corona has been defeated by God.”

This is coming after the World Health Organization (WHO) expressed concern over the government’s strategy on the pandemic which includes not publishing data on the number of Coronavirus cases in the country.

As at April 29 when the last official data was released, 509 cases and 21 deaths had been recorded in Tanzania.

BBC reported that Mr Magufuli had said last week that only four patients were receiving treatment in the largest city, Dar es Salaam. He also dismissed a US embassy warning that hospitals in Dar es Salaam were “overwhelmed” and that the chances of contracting the virus was “extremely high”.

Kenya closed its borders with Tanzania and Somalia due to rising cases of imported COVID-19 cases

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