Coronavirus Africa news summary for Wednesday 17 June

Coronavirus live Africa: latest Covid-19 news - Wednesday 17 June

Africa

Africa Covid-19 update: 07:00 WAT on Thursday 18 June (08:00 CEST)

According to the latest figures published by Johns Hopkins University8,349,972 cases have been detected worldwide, with 448,962 deaths and 4,073,955 people have recovered.

Nigeria: 17,735 cases / 469 deaths
South Africa: 80,412 cases / 1,674 deaths
Ghana: 12,590 cases / 66 deaths

Workers' rights seen crumbling as coronavirus threatens further setbacks

Labour rights are being eroded worldwide as more countries deny workers the ability to strike, unionise and negotiate better terms, a global trade union said on Thursday, warning that the coronavirus pandemic could lead to further setbacks.

Violations of labour rights have hit a seven-year high as a rising number of governments have prevented workers from forming unions or collectively bargaining, the Global Rights Index by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) revealed.

About 2.5 billion people - more than 60% of the world's workforce - are informal workers, leaving them particularly at risk of being underpaid, overworked and abused, the ITUC said. 

Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt and Honduras were rated as the worst countries, according to the annual index, which ranked 144 nations on the degree of respect for workers' rights.

"The index exposes a breakdown in the social contract that governments and employers have with working people," Sharan Burrow, secretary general of the ITUC, said in a statement.

"We are already seeing some countries take things further, and under the cover of measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic they are advancing their anti-workers' rights agenda," Burrow added. "This has got to stop, and be reversed."

After controlling the data to account for various differences among the cohort members, the researchers found that among people diagnosed with COVID-19, having HIV was associated with a 2.75-fold increase in the risk of dying from COVID-19. This finding held regardless of whether the people with HIV had a fully suppressed viral load.

WHO halts trial of hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients

The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that testing of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in its large multi-country trial of treatments for COVID-19 patients had been halted after new data and studies showed no benefit.

WHO expert Ana Maria Henao-Restrepo said investigators leading the so-called Solidarity Trial testing the drug - which had been promoted by U.S. President Donald Trump - had reviewed recent evidence and decided to stop recruiting new patients.

"After deliberation, they have concluded that the hydroxychloroquine arm will be stopped from the Solidarity Trial," Henao-Restrepo told a media briefing.

In a statement issued later on Wednesday, the WHO said the decision was based on evidence from the Solidarity Trial itself, as well as from a UK-led trial that had found the drug did not help COVID-19 patients, and from a review of other evidence on hydroxychloroquine.

Data from those studies "showed that hydroxychloroquine does not result in the reduction of mortality of hospitalised COVID-19 patients," the WHO statement said.

Egypt and South Africa remain two hotspots for the virus.

African countries have shown impressive ingenuity in dealing with the coronavirus. But the legacies of colonialism and Western-imposed austerity have left them ill-equipped to attack the deadly virus.

Always look on the bright side of life.

Kenya's government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna has told Kenyans they can not go to bars to watch the restart of the Premier League.

80,412 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa as deaths climb to 1,674 but restrictions continue to be eased.

Nhial Deng spends a day in a refugee camp in Kenya during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ramaphosa ends his address by again noting that South Africa is confronting two pandemics, the coronavirus and gender-based violence. "I do believe that we can overcome" both, he says. "It is indeed in all our hands to ensure that we do overcome."

Zimbabwe hikes govt salaries 50% as nurses picket for pay in dollars

Zimbabwe raised salaries for government workers by 50% on Wednesday, hours after nurses stopped work at a major government hospital in the capital Harare, demanding to be paid in dollars because of soaring inflation.

Workers fear the country is returning to the 2008 era when a bout of hyperinflation rendered salaries and savings worthless.

The government brought back the Zimbabwe dollar last June. Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said in a statement the salary hike would take immediate effect, adding that workers would also get a monthly allowance of $75.

Inflation has risen to 785%. The price of bread and sugar increased by at least 30% this week alone.

Africa

Parents wearing protective masks wait to register their newly-born child at the Home Affairs offices in Cape Town, South Africa, Wednesday June 17, 2020. The country now has more than a quarter of the coronavirus cases on the 54-nation African continent with more than 73,000 cases after new, record-high infections were registered in South Africa over the weekend. (AP Photo/Nardus Engelbrecht)

A look at the rising cases in Africa

“Even though these cases in Africa account for less than 3 percent of the global total, it’s clear that this pandemic is accelerating,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the W.H.O.’s regional director for Africa, said in a video briefing last week.

Covid

Around 9% of Guinea-Bissau health workers have been infected with COVID-19

More than 170 of Guinea-Bissau's 2,000 health workers have contracted COVID-19, a World Health Organization expert said on Tuesday, warning that hospitals were close to being overwhelmed.

The tiny West African nation's under-equipped healthcare system has been struggling to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has infected over 1,400 people and killed 15.

Health authorities have raised the alarm over a lack of oxygen to treat patients.

App helps Nigerian children carry on learning amid schools closure

The app Quizac is helping pupils at secondary-education level to keep on studying, while also having fun, amid the closure of schools in Nigeria as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. "Learning is not an affliction - it shouldn't be an affliction, it should be fun," says the app's co-founder, Tade Samson.

Reopening of places of worship suspended in Nigeria

Tunisian economy may shrink by 6 to 7% due to coronavirus

Tunisia's economy may shrink by up to 7% this year due to the effects of coronavirus pandemic, the investment minister said on Wednesday.

The number of unemployed people in Tunisia will increase by 275,000, according a government study in partnership with the United Nations Development Program, the minister, Slim Azzabi, said.

The study expects the economy to shrink by 4.4% but Azzabi said that figure might rise to as high as 6 or 7%. (Reuters)

Opposition leader calls for reinstatement of SA alcohol ban

Opposition politician Julius Malema has urged South Africa's government to reimpose a ban on alcohol sales, which was partially lifted at the start of June. "This country has made a reckless decision," the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader said of the relaxing of restrictions on buying alcohol, which is reported to have contributed to a rise in violent crime in South Africa.

Latest WHO figures for Africa: more than 256,000 cases, leading to over 6,800 deaths

"Life is more important than watching the Premier League"

Government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna has urged patience from people in Kenya eager to go out and watch the returning Premier League in bars, telling an interview with NTV that they will remain closed in line with coronavirus safety measures.

“What is important, to go and watch the English Premier League in a bar and then catch an infection that may actually make you become past tense?” Oguna said. “Or would you rather wait for a while, let things stabilise, and then get your chance to watch your favourite team?

My advice to our people is that life, once lost, can never be recovered. However, a match that is missed can still be watched later on when it is replayed. So really, life is more important than watching the Premier League.”

Over three months since the 2019/20 season was suspended because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Premier League resumes on Wednesday as Aston Villa take on Sheffield United and champions Manchester City meet Arsenal.

Your Covid-19 questions answered

'Breakthrough' treatment from SA

Dexamethasone has been proven to reduced deaths by one-third in patients on ventilators, the University of Oxford said in a statement.

It reduced fatalities by a fifth among those who received oxygen support.

Catch up

A look back at some of the coronavirus headlines making the news over the past 24 hours:

- Congo mining provinces impose new Covid-19 lockdowns

- Around 9% of Guinea-Bissau health workers have been infected with Covid-19

- Germany offers financial aid to help African farmers

- Lagos state suspends plans to reopen places of worship

- Red Cross fears coronavirus spreading silently in Somalia's displaced camps

Africa Covid-19 update: 07:00 WAT on Wednesday 17 June (08:00 CEST)

According to the latest figures published by Johns Hopkins University8,173,940 cases have been detected worldwide, with 443,685 deaths and 3,955,169 people have recovered.

Nigeria: 17,148 cases / 455 deaths
South Africa: 76,334 cases / 1,625 deaths
Ghana: 12,193 cases / 58 deaths

Nearly 150,000 cases

According to the World Health Organization's most recent count, there have been over 248,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases in Africa, leading to approximately 6,600 deaths.

Coronavirus Africa live updates: welcome

Good morning and welcome to our live, Africa-focused coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, which has now registered over eight million cases worldwide.

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