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Egyptian high-school pupils, masked and gloved, head into exams
22 June 2020, 1:27 AM

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptian high-school pupils armed with masks, gloves and hand sanitizers started their final exams on Sunday, despite objections from some parents worried about spreading the coronavirus.

The health ministry was laying on 2 500 ambulances and providing a doctor for each school. Any student with a high temperature is meant to have their exam postponed or sit it in isolation.

The students had their temperatures taken in the morning, before being seated at desks spaced apart from one another.

Nearly 670 000 pupils from state and private schools, and 128 000 from religious schools, were due to sit the exams. They come at a time when Egypt has seen an acceleration of coronavirus cases, with confirmed infections surging to 53 758, including 2 106 deaths.

Authorities have been gradually easing restrictions on movement, though schools and universities have remained shut since March.

The head of Egypt’s doctors’ syndicate had called for the exams to be postponed, private newspaper Al-Youm al-Sabaa reported, and some parents expressed concern about their children’s safety.

“Honestly I was worried, and am still worried, because someone in the class might have something (be infected) without having informed the administration on the way in,” said Ayman Mahmoud, whose two sons were taking exams in Cairo.

Authorities said they had taken all necessary precautions and the education ministry offered students an option to postpone to the next academic year without any penalty.

Below is the dashboard tracking global COVID-19 cases, death toll, recoveries and more:

women holding placards
Government calls upon men to reflect on their roles in society
22 June 2020, 12:30 AM

South Africa is a nation in pain, and action is needed now. The statement emanated from a virtual dialogue hosted by Parliament on Sunday.

This comes as the country continue to deal with Gender-Based Violence.

Stakeholders called upon men to reflect on their roles in society.  The Father’s Day dialogue, was themed Fathers Speak to Heal the Nation.

The dialogue was held in partnership with Social Development and the South African National Aid Council Men’s Sector.

The discussion centred on the role men have to play in building a healthy society.

Deputy National Assembly Speaker, Lechesa Tsenoli called for ideas, to form a strategy to effectively fight violence against women.

There were calls to change strategies already in place.

In his address to the nation on Wednesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa identified two pandemics facing South Africa. One is the COVID-19 virus and the other is Gender-Based Violence.

In this video below, president Ramaphosa calls on citizens to end the culture of silence around gender-based violence: 

There has been a rise in gender-based violence cases since alert Level 3 of the nationwide lockdown began on June 1.

In the past weeks, Tshegofatso PuleNaledi PhangindawoNompumelelo Tshaka and other women in the Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal were found murdered.

In this video below, men are called to join the fight against gender-based violence:

Shelters play a critical role in breaking the cycle of violence. There, victims are not only helped to get back on their feet but are advised on their rights.



Filmmaker Ava DuVernay aims to hold police accountable through art
21 June 2020, 6:50 AM

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay is urging writers, dancers, poets and other artists to help make the names of abusive police officers as well known as their victims.

Media company ARRAY, founded by DuVernay, has launched the Law Enforcement Accountability Project (LEAP) to support works of art that tell stories about police violence, an issue that gained renewed attention following the killing of African-American George Floyd when a US police officer held his knee on his neck for close to nine minutes.

DuVernay, the filmmaker behind “Selma” and “13th,” said the idea grew out of frustration.

“The stories around police abuse of black people who are unarmed and should not be killed is not being well told when officers are able to just disappear into the ether,” DuVernay said in a recent interview with Reuters.

“I can … rattle off 30 names of black people who have been murdered by police on film over the last five years, but I can’t tell you who killed them and I can’t tell you where those people are,” she said. “I think that’s unacceptable.”

The effort will commission projects from film, literature, poetry, theater, dance, fine art and music.

The first piece will be released online in August, DuVernay said, followed by one each month for at least the next two years. Activists will be encouraged to circulate the work via social media to increase visibility.

“This is an active demonstration of resistance so it will be ongoing and it will be consistent,” DuVernay said.

Apple to shut some US stores again due to rising COVID-19 cases
21 June 2020, 5:00 AM

Apple Inc said on Friday it is temporarily shutting some stores again in Florida, Arizona, South Carolina, and North Carolina in the United States, as novel coronavirus cases continue to rise in the country.

Shares of the company, which said the closure would affect 11 stores in these states, were down 0.5%.

However, cases in the United States have been steadily rising, with over 2.2 million people infected and at least 118.396 people dead.

In a letter to Apple customers in May, Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s retail chief, had said the company would look at data on a local basis and that re-closings were a possibility based on that data.

“These are not decisions we rush into — and a store opening in no way means that we won’t take the preventative step of closing it again should local conditions warrant,” O’Brien had said.

Below is the dashboard tracking global COVID-19 cases, death toll, recoveries and more:

Germany’s coronavirus reproduction rate jumps to 179
21 June 2020, 3:15 AM

The reproduction rate of the novel coronavirus in Germany has jumped to 179 after a raft of localised outbreaks, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for public health said on Saturday, far above the level needed to contain it over the longer term.

The number, a sharp increase from 1.06 on Friday, is a setback for the European Union’s most populous country, which has fared better in the pandemic than many European peers due mainly to early testing and social distancing measures.

The institute attributed the rise to a number of local outbreaks, which have been seen in locations such as meatpacking plants, logistics centres, and shelters for refugees. Outbreaks have also been linked to church services and family parties.

The premier of the western North Rhine-Westphalia region warned on Friday it faces the threat of a renewed lockdown amid a spiralling outbreak at a major slaughterhouse.

“Since case numbers in Germany are generally low, these outbreaks have a relatively strong influence on the value of the reproduction number,” RKI said. “A nationwide increase in case numbers is not anticipated.”

When smoothed for short-term effects, the government-affiliated institute estimated the country’s reproduction rate at 155, up from 117 on Friday.

A reproduction rate, or ‘R’, of 179 means that 100 people who contracted the virus infect, on average, 179 other people. A rate of less than 1 is needed to gradually contain the disease.

Even though its management of the coronavirus crisis has been among the most successful in Europe, Germany has seen repeated outbreaks in slaughterhouses, whose employees are often migrants living in crowded company-provided accommodation.

Chancellor Angela Merkel had favoured maintaining lockdown discipline for longer, but Germany eventually eased restrictions following pressure from regional premiers.

Below is the dashboard tracking global COVID-19 cases, death toll, recoveries and more:



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