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Coronavirus Africa: news summary for Tuesday 23 June

Commuters wait for the bus during a protest by taxi operators over the government's financial relief for the taxi industry, during the coronavirus lockdown, in Soweto, South Africa.

Coronavirus live Africa: latest Covid-19 news - 23 June

Africa map

Africa Covid-19 update: 07:00 WAT on Wednesday 24 June (08:00 CEST) 

According to the latest figures published by Johns Hopkins University9,263,570 cases have been detected worldwide, with 477,584 deaths and 4,630,394 people have recovered.

South Africa: 106,108 cases / 2,102 deaths

Nigeria: 21,371 cases / 533 deaths

Ghana: 14,568 / 95 deaths

NDLEA worried Coronavirus lockdown may worsen drug addiction

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency reports that the ongoing lockdown in states affected by coronavirus could lead to a rise to drug addiction and experimentation of newer substances.

Chairman of the agency, Col. Muhammad Abdallah expressed those concerns a virtual news briefing to commemorate the 2020 International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking on Monday in Abuja. “In the light of the prevailing atmosphere of COVID-19, drug-dependent persons are more acutely at risk because of their usually attendant underlying health issues, social stigmatization, and the dearth of access to health care Making matters worse is the fact that the front burner currently is the exclusive pressure of COVID-19, other matters less so. That is why there has never been a time much worse for drug-dependent persons. The lockdown merely accentuated the dilemma,” he said.

The NDLEA boss disclosed that as drugs of choice became scarce, there may be increased experimentation with newer, different substances by drug users.

Nigeria government passes on repatriation costs to evacuees

Nigerians stranded in South Africa due to COVID-19 travel restrictions are set to be evacuated back home at the cost of between $840 to $1350.

The cost of evacuation is despite the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation announcing on May 19 to use N1bn raised to pay for the evacuation of about 4,000 Nigerians abroad, who have indicated interest in returning home.


Nigeria president Buhari sees threat to West African currency plan

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said on Tuesday that West Africa's plan to adopt a common currency was being put at risk by some countries' attempts to progress more quickly than the agreed timetable.

Nations in the region are aiming to adopt a single currency to boost trade and economic growth. Nigeria, the largest economy in West Africa, currently operates a managed float for its currency, while several other countries peg theirs to the euro. Buhari told the heads of state of the 15-member West African Community of African States in a virtual meeting that he was concerned francophone countries - such as Ivory Coast and Senegal - had decided to replace their currencies with the new unified one, the Eco, ahead of others.

"It, therefore, gives me an uneasy feeling that the UEMOA Zone (francophone countries) now wishes to take up the Eco in replacement for its CFA Franc ahead of the rest of the member states" the Nigerian leader said, arguing the move could jeopardise the project.

Buhari said Nigeria was committed to the single currency and urged leaders to take a common position to safeguard the region. "We cannot ridicule ourselves by entering a union to disintegrate, potentially no sooner than we enter into it," he told the meeting. 

SA cases top 100,000

As the tally from positive cases in South Africa passes the 100,000 mark, experts warn that the nation is still expected to see this figure with the country being the hardest hit nation on the continent.


Trials with Oxford COVID-19 vaccine to start in Brazil

Human clinical trials in Brazil for a potential coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University started this weekend, sponsor Lemann Foundation said in a statement late on Monday.

Trials will count on 2,000 health worker volunteers in Sao Paulo and 1,000 people in Rio de Janeiro and are being conducted by Universidade Federal de Sao Paulo and hospital chain Rede D'Or, respectivelly.

Brazil's health regulator Anvisa approved human clinical trials for the potential vaccine, developed by Oxford and supported by AstraZeneca Plc, earlier in June.

Brazil, where the disease is still rife, is the first country outside the United Kingdom to start testing the Oxford vaccine.

Researchers expect to launch the vaccine by year-end.

Some 2,000 people in South Africa will be involved in what is widely considered to be one of the earliest and most advanced trials for a vaccine to tackle the pandemic.

Aspen could produce 10 million dexamethasone tablets within a month, says CEO

South African drug company Aspen could provide 10 million dexamethasone tablets within a month, Chief Executive Stephen Saad told Reuters on Tuesday.

Results from a trial showed that dexamethasone reduced death rates by about a third compared with a placebo in severely ill hospitalised COVID-19 patients, University of Oxford scientists said last week, calling the discovery a major breakthrough.

"Aspen has looked at the short-term needs and can provide 10 million tablets in the next three to four weeks. We would look to ramp up further should there be a need for additional product," Saad said without indicating current production volumes.

South Africa's biggest supplier of drugs, with a 22% market share in sub-Saharan Africa, manufactures both the injectable and tablet forms of dexamethasone, which is mainly used for treatment of tumours, asthma and other respiratory ailments.

The South African government has contacted Aspen to source the drug not only for its domestic market but also for rest of the continent, the company said on Monday.

South Africa has passed a very concerning milestone of 100,000 cases. They have suffered 1,991 deaths so far too.

Egypt to ease coronavirus restrictions from end of week

(Reuters) Egypt will reopen restaurants, cafes, and places of worship from the end of the week but will keep some restrictions in place to limit crowding, the prime minister said on Tuesday, as new coronavirus cases continue to climb.

Restaurants and cafes will operate at 25% capacity and shut at 10 pm from Saturday, while mosques and churches will be open for daily praying but not for end-of-week prayers or services, Mostafa Madbouly said.

Cinemas and theatres will also reopen at 25% capacity. Beaches and parks will remain shut and public transport will be suspended from midnight until 4 am. The decisions to ease restrictions introduced three months ago could be revoked if people do not follow the rules still in place, Madbouly said.

South Africa to start vaccine trial

South Africa plans to trial a vaccine known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 on 2,000 people starting this week. The vaccine was developed by the Oxford Jenner Institute and is being studied ahead of a planned trial in the UK. 

South Africa's unemployment rate hits record high in first quarter

(Reuters) South Africa's unemployment rate rose to a record high in the first quarter of this year, driven by job losses in the formal and agriculture sectors, the national statistics agency said on Tuesday.

The country's economy was already in recession before the coronavirus pandemic hit, with the strict lockdown implemented at the end of March further squeezing businesses and consumers.

The unemployment rate of 30.1% was up from 29.1% in the final quarter of last year, Statistics South Africa said its quarterly labour force survey, and higher than the 29.7% forecast in a Reuters poll.

"This is the first ever that we have hit the 30% mark," Statistician General Risenga Maluleke said.


A woman walks past members of the military during a protest by taxi operators over the government's financial relief for the taxi industry during the coronavirus lockdown in Soweto, South Africa. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Dexamethasone breakthrough 

Africa latest updates

According to the latest statistics, there are now over 300,000 recorded cases of the novel coronavirus on the continent, with over 8,000 people losing their lives to the disease. 

South Africa reaches 100,000 cases

South Africa has the highest number of recorded coronavirus cases on the continent with the overall tally now standing at over 100,000, local media reported.  

Nigerian doctors suspend strike over benefits to hold talks

Resident doctors in Nigerian public hospitals have suspended a strike they began last week in which they demanded better benefits, including the provision of more protective equipment, as they battle the coronavirus, the union said on Monday.

The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), launching the industrial action last Monday, said it would give the government two weeks to meet its demands or else those treating Covid-19 patients, who stayed on the job, would also walk out.

Resident doctors are those who have graduated from medical school and are training as specialist consultants. They are pivotal to frontline healthcare in Nigeria as they dominate the emergency wards in its hospitals.

The NARD has sought a Covid-19 pay supplement in addition to life insurance for doctors and more funds in the federal budget for their training, among other demands.

Ghanaian government criticized over unduly harsh Covid-19 measures


Ghanaian government criticized over unduly harsh Covid-19 measures

The Ghanaian government has been criticized for a recently-signed law which is aimed at containing the coronavirus outspread in the country.

South Africa: taxi drivers on strike due to Covid-19 consequences


South Africa: taxi drivers on strike due to Covid-19 consequences

Taxi workers in Gauteng are dissatisfied with the government relief grant and are demanding far more financial support.

Namibia eases coronavirus restrictions

Namibia's president, Hage Geingob, has announced that the country will move from stage 3 to stage 4 of its reopening plan, despite registering 17 new cases of the coronavirus in the past 48 hours, Reuters said.

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