Coronavirus Africa: news summary for 31 August

Coronavirus live Africa: latest Covid-19 news - 31 August

Africa Covid-19 update: 21:00 WAT on Monday 31 August (22:00 CEST)

Latest figures published by Johns Hopkins University.

Worldwide

Cases: 25,325,617
Deaths: 847,847
Recoveries: 16,665,663

South Africa

Cases: 625,056
Deaths: 14,028

Egypt 

Cases: 98,727
Deaths: 5,399

Nigeria

Cases: 53,865
Deaths: 1,013

Algeria approves more measures to ease coronavirus lockdown

Algerian authorities said on Monday they will carry out further measures to ease a coronavirus lockdown from 1 September, including lifting a ban on some cultural activities such as reopening museums and libraries.

Nurseries would also be reopened with 50% of their capacity but prohibit the use of air conditioners and access to children by family members. The new steps will also end a paid leave for pregnant women and those with children under 14 years.

Algeria has already eased restrictions linked to the novel coronavirus, including reopening some businesses, mosques, leisure venues and beaches. It has so far reported 44,494 infections and 1,510 deaths.

South Africa reports 1,985 new cases

South Africa has reported 1,985 new cases of coronavirus to take its total caseload to 627,041. The death toll has increased by 121 to reach 14,149.

“We extend our condolences to the loved ones of the departed and thank the health care workers that treated the deceased patients. Our recoveries now stand at 540 923 which translates to a recovery rate of 86%," said a Dept. of Health statement. 

Coronavirus tracker: Africa

Cases in Africa are nearing 1.25 million, as the death toll has surpassed 240,000. Africa accounts for around 5% of the total global caseload.

Emergency authorisation of Covid-19 vaccines needs great care - WHO

The emergency authorisation of Covid-19 vaccines requires a "great deal of seriousness and reflection", the World Health Organization said on Monday after the United States announced it was considering fast-tracking candidate drugs.

Although every country had the right to approve drugs without completing full trials, "it is not something that you do very lightly", WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan told a news conference.

The head of the US Food and Drug Administration said he would be willing to bypass the normal approval process to authorise a Covid-19 vaccine as long as officials were convinced the benefits outweigh the risks. Russia has already granted regulatory approval to a Covid-19 vaccine this month after less than two months of human testing, prompting some Western experts to question its safety and efficacy.

The WHO's preferred approach would be to have a full set of data which could be used for the pre-qualification of vaccines, Swaminathan said. The WHO would then consider the efficacy and safety of each drug on a case by case basis, she added.

The WHO has used experimental drugs to combat Ebola in Africa, a measure which proved successful, Mike Ryan, the head of the organisation's emergencies programme, said. But he stressed that a fast-track approach without full trials required intensive monitoring and safety follow-up work, and should be halted immediately if problems occur. 'If you move too quickly to vaccinate ... millions of people, you may miss certain adverse effects,' Ryan said. (Reuters)

Kampala crackdown

Kampala Metropolitan Police arrested more than 500 people at the weekend in renewed operations against breaches of Ministry of Health directives on the prevention of coronavirus. According to Johns Hopkins University data, Uganda has fewer than 3,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 30 deaths related to the disease. 

South Africa's ruling party says officials charged with corruption must step aside

(Reuters) South Africa's governing party decided at a meeting of its executive over the weekend that party officials formally charged with corruption and other serious crimes must step aside from their positions, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.

The African National Congress (ANC) has been rocked in recent weeks by reports of corruption during the coronavirus crisis, with state investigators probing irregularities in government tenders worth 5 billion rand ($297 million).

Scientists see downsides to top Covid-19 vaccines from Russia, China

(Reuters) High-profile Covid-19 vaccines developed in Russia and China share a potential shortcoming: They are based on a common cold virus that many people have been exposed to, potentially limiting their effectiveness, some experts say.

CanSino Biologics' vaccine, approved for military use in China, is a modified form of adenovirus type 5, or Ad5.

The company is in talks to get emergency approval in several countries before completing large-scale trials, the Wall Street Journal reported last week.

A vaccine developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Institute, approved in Russia earlier this month despite limited testing, is based on Ad5 and a second less common adenovirus.

"The Ad5 concerns me just because a lot of people have immunity," said Anna Durbin, a vaccine researcher at Johns Hopkins University. "I'm not sure what their strategy is ... maybe it won't have 70% efficacy. It might have 40% efficacy, and that's better than nothing, until something else comes along."

SA

A worker waits for customers outside a newly reopened bar in Long Street, normally bustling with foreign tourists, as coronavirus lockdown regulations ease in Cape Town, South Africa. Picture taken August 24, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

With borders closed, S.Africa pins hopes on cash-strapped local tourists

Lisa Krohn's Ashanti Lodge in Cape Town - normally abuzz with backpackers from around the world - today sits largely empty, a sign of how the pandemic has crushed South Africa's tourist industry.

"This place is like a morgue," she said, contemplating the Victorian-era building's deserted foyer.

Following a five-month lockdown, South Africa is easing domestic travel restrictions, allowing hotels to reopen. With international borders still closed, the government is pinning its hopes on domestic tourism, echoing a strategy being tried from Vietnam to New Zealand with mixed results.

South Africa remains among the countries hardest hit by the pandemic however. And with recession-battered consumers watching their pocketbooks, many in the sector foresee an uphill battle.

"When your tourism industry is all geared towards international tourism, domestic tourism will not compensate," said Olivier Ponti, vice-president at ForwardKeys, which studies global travel trends. "It's just impossible."

Global view

Want to know more about how the pandemic is affecting the rest of the world? Check out The Guardian's latest update.

In the world’s coronavirus blind spot, fears of a silent epidemic

The global scramble to thwart the coronavirus has a vast blind spot: sub-Saharan Africa.

In Tanzania, the government outlawed coronavirus testing and declared its national outbreak defeated, even as hundreds of people died monthly from unexplained respiratory problems. Last month in Zambia, 28 people died at home in a single day with Covid-19-like symptoms while waiting to be tested. In South Sudan, government forces barricaded thousands of people inside refugee camps, claiming they were infected but refusing to conduct tests.

Hunting for SA's uncounted Covid-19 toll

Scientists researching the number of excess deaths during the pandemic are pushing the government to fast-track processing.

Morocco: Clashes over coronavirus Ashura ban

Clashes erupt between young Moroccans and security forces after the authorities banned Ashura commemorations in some regions as a preventive measures against the spread of the coronavirus.

Uganda to review reopening of schools

Judith Nabakooba, minister of ICT and national guidance told reporters that President Yoweri Museveni instructed the taskforce to review the possibility of a phased reopening of schools, starting with candidate classes and clinical medical students.

The taskforce is also supposed to review the status of the remaining sectors that are still closed like tourism, reopening of Entebbe International Airport among others.

Nabakooba said the team is supposed to report back to the president early next week and thereafter he will address the country on the next step forward.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti leads Africa's fight against Covid-19

Africa, like the rest of the world, is engulfed by the Covid-19 pandemic but the continent has one of the finest minds leading the fight against the deadly coronavirus.

The World Health Organisation's (WHO) Africa director, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, was born on our soil, in KwaThema, near Springs in Ekurhuleni.

SA set to replace Japan in eight-team tournament

World champions South Africa are being lined up to replace Japan in an eight-team tournament at the end of the year.

The Brave Blossoms, who hosted last year's World Cup, pulled out because of coronavirus travel restrictions.

Georgia were touted as replacements but World Rugby vice-chairman Bernard Laporte says they are now in "advanced discussions" with South Africa.

"It would be great to be able to face the Springboks, world champions, but it's not yet done," he said.

A spokesperson for South Africa Rugby said they had "no knowledge of such an arrangement being planned".

Covid-19 catch-up

Here is a selection of some of the coronavirus-related stories that have been making the headlines over the last 24 hours:

Kenya Airways has posted a pre-tax loss of $133m (£100m) for the first six months of the year, as its performance stalled during the coronavirus pandemic

Ghana will reopen air borders to international travel as of Sept. 1 after closing them in March to limit the spread of the coronavirus

Africa has become polio free as the world battles a pandemic, and lessons learned can help its fight against Covid-19

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa will appear before the governing African National Congress party’s integrity commission over controversial campaign donations

Schools will reopen in Nigeria's commercial hub of Lagos next month as part of plans to revive the economy as Covid-19 cases decline

Supporters packed the Benjamin Mkapa stadium in Dar es Salaam today as Young Africans SC presented their new season kits ahead of a friendly game

Africa Covid-19 update: 06:00 WAT on Monday 31 August (07:00 CEST)

Latest figures published by Johns Hopkins University.

Worldwide

Cases: 25,222,709
Deaths: 846,395
Recoveries: 16,618,168

South Africa

Cases: 625,056
Deaths: 14,028

Egypt 

Cases: 98,727
Deaths: 5,399

Nigeria

Cases: 53,865
Deaths: 1,013

Coronavirus Africa - Good morning

Hello and welcome to AS English's live coverage of the coronavirus in Africa on Monday 31 August.

We'll be bringing you breaking news, reaction and the latest figures from the continent throughout the day, as well as the biggest coronavirus news from across the globe.

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