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US targets Chinese Communist Party members in possible travel ban
17 July 2020, 4:11 PM

The Trump administration is considering banning travel to the United States (US) by all members of the Chinese Communist Party and their families, a person familiar with the matter said on Thursday, an idea that China dismissed as absurd.

Senior officials discussing the matter had begun circulating a draft of a possible presidential order, but deliberations were at an early stage and the issue had not yet been brought to President Donald Trump, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The discussions, first reported by the New York Times, center on whether to deny visas to more than 90 million Chinese in what would be one of Washington’s toughest actions yet in a widening feud with Beijing that some have likened to a new Cold War.

Such a ban, if implemented, could hit the ruling Communist Party from the highest levels down to its rank-and-file and would be certain to draw retaliation against Americans who travel to China. This could include not only diplomats but also business executives, potentially harming US interests in China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying, asked about the possibility of such a travel ban, told reporters on Friday that, should it materialise, it would mean the United States was choosing to stand against 1.4 billion people.

“This is against the trend of the 21st century, and it is very absurd,” she said, noting that no US official had clarified whether the reports of the possible ban were correct.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stopped short of confirming it was under consideration but said: “We’re working our way through, under the president’s guidance, about how to think about pushing back against the Chinese Communist Party.”

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters: “We keep every option on the table with regard to China.”

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have sunk to the lowest point in decades as they clash over China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, its tightening grip on Hong Kong, its disputed claims in the South China Sea, trade and accusations of human rights crimes in Xinjiang.

US officials across multiple agencies are involved in the process, which includes consideration of whether to block Cmmunist Party members’ children from attending American universities, said the source, who has been briefed on deliberations.

The fact that such a sweeping ban is being discussed shows the lengths to which Trump’s aides may be prepared to go as they make the tough-on-China theme a thrust of his campaign for re-election in November.

Mali PM apologises for security force ‘excesses’ during protests
17 July 2020, 3:44 PM

Mali’s Prime Minister has apologised for “excesses” by security forces who opened fire last week on anti-government protesters, but rejected opposition demands that President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita must resign.

Last Friday, the latest in a series of mass protests in the capital Bamako against Keita turned violent, with security forces firing on protesters, some of whom had occupied state buildings.

Clashes continued for several days, with at least 11 people killed in total, the government has said.

“Unfortunately, there were excesses. What happened is very regrettable. We apologise for it,” Prime Minister Boubou Cisse said in an interview with France 24 television aired late on Thursday. He said prosecutors had opened an investigation into the violence.

On Tuesday, Cisse wrote to the security ministry demanding an explanation for the deployment of an anti-terrorist special operations force on the streets of Bamako during the protests.

The coalition of religious, political and civil society leaders behind the protests accuses Keita of failing to address violence by jihadist groups and ethnic militias, of mismanaging the economy and of enabling corruption.

A delegation from the West African regional bloc ECOWAS is in Bamako this week to try to broker a resolution, but Keita’s opponents have so far refused to withdraw their demand that the President resign.

Cisse rejected this idea. “It’s inconceivable because the president … was democratically elected,” he said. “I think it’s important … that anyone who arrives at this level of responsibility in our country arrives there through the democratic process.”

The ECOWAS delegation, led by former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, is scheduled to meet with Keita and opposition leaders on Friday.

The opposition has urged its supporters to mourn those killed in the protests during Friday prayers, but has backed off earlier calls for a mass prayer meeting in the heart of Bamako.

Masuku expecting COVID-19 recovery rate to bypass active cases soon
17 July 2020, 2:56 PM

Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku says he expects the COVID-19 recovery rate in the province to bypass active cases in the next two to three weeks.

The Gauteng Provincial Command Council held a media briefing in Ormode, south of Johannesburg on Friday afternoon.

Gauteng remains the epicentre of the country.

In this video below, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma says South Africa has the 8th highest number of COVID-19 infections:


The Gauteng Health Department has welcomed the regulations announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week and hope that this will help stabilise the number of cases.

As it stands, the province is leading the pack and makes up for 36% of the country’s confirmed cases and 46% of the active cases.

Dr Bandile Masuku says, “The problem essentially is that the virus spreads during the movements of people and that is why we have welcomed the president’s announcement in terms of the curfew which is an important aspect of this nature.”

The MEC notes a concern in the number of child fatalities and says medical experts are in the process of analysing the cause behind this.

“Young kids are dying, a matter that is being analysed to find underlying issue.”

Meanwhile in the education sector, Provincial Education MEC is worried about the Grade 12 attendance of which the 30% of the country’s matriculants are not accounted for.

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says, “Those that have applied to study at home are only 56%. The 30% not available don’t add up. We have a substantial number of matriculants that are not at school and we don’t know where are they and what are they doing.”

On the largely debated issue of the closure of schools, Lesufi believes the schooling environment is safer and more organized.

“We strongly believe that the schooling environment is more organised because learners can social-distance and wear their masks and if their environment at home is not organized we believe we have a situation. As I said, we are relying on experts and if they believe we should shut down schools, we will be in the situation to be influenced by their decision.”

The country is drawing closer to the peak which is expected to begin in August.

The department says its plans to increase healthcare staff is in motion, about 500 more doctors and nurses will be employed towards the peak time to help strengthen the fight against the virus.

COVID-19 cases increased significantly after lifting of alcohol ban: Mkhize
13 July 2020, 7:01 PM

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says coronavirus cases increased significantly in South Africa when the alcohol ban was eased some weeks ago and this has necessitated a reintroduction of the measure.

He says there was a significant reduction in alcohol-related trauma cases at the country’s hospitals when the ban on sales was first introduced at the beginning of the lockdown in late March.

Mkhize was briefing the media in Pretoria.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday that the ban on the sale of alcohol would be reinstated with immediate effect.

Mkhize says projections show that the country could alleviate the pressure on hospitals by stopping thousands of alcohol-related trauma cases in only the first week of the alcohol ban.

“Now we are very concerned about the fact that the consumption of alcohol in the country is pretty high and its estimated that is 31% and of all, we are really saying is that we plead for understanding and patience as we try to navigate through a difficult time in the country.”

“This is one of the issues that we think at the end of the day it would be inexcusable to actually end up with beds blocked by something that’s completely preventable and avoidable, the consumption of alcohol, and end up with lives of people with a difficult viral infection being compromised.”

Earlier on Monday, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma also defended the suspension of alcohol sales.

“When people are drinking in groups they let their guard down, their masks and social distancing will go. That is when the spread happens. We have seen it in many instances. It socially brings people together, discourages people from using masks, social distancing, sanitising. But more importantly, when people have taken liquor, they get drunk, indulge in irresponsible behaviour and some of them become violent.”

There are 276 242 confirmed coronavirus cases – of which around 135 000 have recovered. Over 4 000 people have died from COVID-19-related illnesses.

Gauteng is currently the epicentre of the virus followed by the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape.

Below is a provincial breakdown of COVID-19 cases in SA:

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SA to remain at Level 3

President Ramaphosa says despite huge concern about the escalation in coronavirus cases, the government has decided that the country will remain at Level 3 of the lockdown.

In the video below, the President urges citizens to take COVID-19 seriously and act responsibly:

A curfew from 21:00 to 04:00 is also now in force from Monday.

People will also now be legally obliged to wear a mask when they leave their homes.

As the coronavirus continues to spread, it is the responsibility of every South African to maintain vital social distancing and hygiene practices to keep themselves and others safe. pic.twitter.com/jUaNeQZxqs

— Presidency | South Africa 🇿🇦 (@PresidencyZA) July 12, 2020

Reallocation of resources for COVID-19 has adversely impacted health of women: Ramaphosa
13 July 2020, 5:42 PM

President Cyril Ramaphosa has told an independent United Nations (UN) panel that the health of women has been adversely impacted through the reallocation of resources in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The South African President and current African Union Chairperson was the opening speaker at the Independent Accountability Panel for Every Woman, Every Child, Every Adolescent, a group appointed by the Secretary-General in 2015 to oversee progress on the global strategy to shore up healthcare for these demographics.

Ramaphosa says the pandemic is placing a burden on already constrained health systems.

“The health of women has been adversely impacted through the reallocation, particularly in sexual and reproductive health services. There is a real danger that this will contribute to a rise in maternal and new-born mortality, increased unmet need for contraception and an increased number of unsafe abortions and sexually transmitted infections,” he said.

South Africa believes sexual and reproductive health services are crucial for a thriving society, including access to maternal health care and interventions related to gender-based violence.

Ramaphosa called on the nations of the world to ensure that the pandemic does not worsen existing inequalities or impede the realisation of the rights of women and girls.

In the video below,  the launch of the UN Report:

Ramaphosa also called for developing countries to have equitable access to safe and effective medicines and new health technologies.

“We call on upon the global community to undertake the actions that are urgently needed to ensure collaboration on the development of knowledge, intellectual property and data for existing and new therapeutics, vaccines and diagnostics for COVID-19. I would like to commend governments around the world for their collaborative efforts towards advancing Sustainable Development Goal 3 on ensuring health and well-being for all. This includes a bold commitment to end HIV and Aids, tuberculosis, malaria and other communicable diseases by 2030,” he said.

 

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