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Coronavirus
A look at the impact of COVID-19 on Africa’s growth
22 May 2020, 11:25 AM

Next week Monday, the 25th of May is Africa Day, a commemoration of the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity on 25 May 1963. While it’s a time to galvanise Africans to work towards the stability and economic prosperity of the continent, it’s challenging times in the era of COVID-19. The impact of the global pandemic will have far-reaching implications for the continent’s growth.

SABC Foreign Editor Sophie Mokoena chats further on the issue:

 

 

VIDEO: WHO briefing on COVID-19
15 May 2020, 5:29 PM

The World Health Organisation (WHO) briefing on the coronavirus.

Video: Minister Gordhan’s briefing on SAA
15 May 2020, 3:00 PM

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has briefed SCOPA on the latest at South African Airways (SAA).

Last week, Gordhan said in discussions with trade unions, they agreed to take salary cuts of up to 40% to ensure SAA’s survival.

The Minister briefed the joint Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises and the Select Committee on Public Enterprises and Communications during a virtual joint meeting on Wednesday last week.

Video of Gordhan’s briefing below:

World has changed even if pandemic ends, vaccine found: Canada’s Trudeau
14 May 2020, 9:11 PM
Canadians should accept the world will change even if a vaccine is found and the coronavirus pandemic ends, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday, urging people to adjust to a new normal that will require modified behaviour.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waits for a meeting of the special committee on the COVID-19 pandemic to begin, as efforts continue to help slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada May 13, 2020. REUTERS/Blair Gable

Trudeau unveiled new measures to support hard-hit sectors, including C$470 million ($334 million) for fisheries, and the partial reopening of some national parks.

“We have to recognize that things will change in this world, even after the end of this pandemic, even after a vaccine,” he told reporters. “COVID-19 will be one of the things that create changes in our society. There will be adjustments.”

World Health Organization emergencies expert Mike Ryan said on Wednesday that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could become endemic like HIV and “may never go away.”

More Canadian provinces are lifting restrictions and moving to restart more economic activity, while the warmer weather is spurring more people outdoors.

Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, will permit some retail stores as well as vehicle dealerships and construction sites to reopen on May 19, in the first of three stages to restart the province’s economy. It is not possible to put a date on the next stage, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said, adding it was contingent on a continued decline in cases.

“The truth is we can’t predict where things will go so we need to be ready,” Ford told reporters. “As we get more and more people back to work, the risk of flare-up is real so we must be vigilant.”

Canada’s coronavirus death toll edged up by 2.5% to 5,337 from Wednesday, one of the smallest daily increases, according to public health agency data.

More than 60% of the deaths have occurred in Quebec, the second-most populous of the 10 provinces.

Premier Francois Legault said the situation in Montreal, Canada’s second-largest city, was fragile. Many enterprises are still closed and a planned reopening on May 25 can only happen if the daily death toll starts to fall, he said.

“I understand some people in the business community are a bit discouraged, but we have to think about our health most of all,” Legault told a briefing, urging people to wear masks.

Legault also said Montreal schools would stay shut until the start of the new year in late August rather than reopen this month as originally planned.

Besides support for fisheries, Ottawa will also extend the federal wage subsidy program to encourage more employers to keep workers on the payroll.

Canadian farmers and agriculture businesses have claimed most of the C$5 billion ($3.55 billion) in extra credit offered by Ottawa to boost their cash flow during the coronavirus pandemic, in less than two months.

In an annual review of Canada’s financial systems, the Bank of Canada said that while the coronavirus remains a massive challenge, measures it has taken “are showing signs of succeeding.”

Canadian manufacturing sales in March slumped by the most in over 11 years as the pandemic forced the shutdown of many firms, and April looks set to be worse, Statistics Canada said.

Children released in South Sudan
First war, now COVID-19 threatens South Sudanese in crowded camp
14 May 2020, 8:20 PM

Add to that the challenge of enforcing social distancing in such cramped quarters, and aid workers fear many more deaths are inevitable after years of war, famine and displacement.

The United Nations said on Wednesday that two people had tested positive at the displacement camp – accommodating nearly 30,000 people – that it runs in the capital, Juba.

The news has sparked alarm among aid workers who fear the virus will spread like wildfire, overwhelming what is already a fragile health system in one of the world’s poorest countries.

“There are tens of thousands of internally displaced persons living there, so they live in quite cramped conditions,” said James Reynolds, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in South Sudan.

“You have got lots of people living in a single home without running water – it’s very difficult for people to respect handwashing, social distancing, wearing a mask, all these things.”

South Sudan, which split from its northern neighbour Sudan in 2011, is reeling from years of civil war between government forces under President Salva Kiir and those allied with Vice President Riek Machar.

The five-year conflict claimed an estimated 400,000 lives, triggered a famine and created Africa’s biggest refugee crisis since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

More than 190 000 people are still sheltering in several UN-run camps, such as the one in Juba.

Aid workers said the camps were filled with families, with up to 12 people sharing small, flimsy shelters with little access to water or soap – making it almost impossible to contain the spread of the virus.

“If we add the fact that many people are at a higher risk due to co-morbidities – such as malnutrition, malaria, HIV – it is easy to see how COVID-19 could have catastrophic consequences in South Sudan,” said Claudio Miglietta, head of the medical charity Medicins Sans Frontieres in South Sudan.

There are 203 cases of the virus with zero deaths in the country, according to the latest Johns Hopkins University data.

UN officials said on Wednesday that the arrival of COVID-19 in the Juba camp was not unexpected given the rising number of cases confirmed elsewhere in the city.

“The UN continues to urge displaced people in the sites to follow prevention measures such as social distancing, handwashing, and isolating themselves if they become sick,” said Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for the U.N.

He said the UN had doubled the water supply, brought in extra handwashing facilities and distributed three months’ worth of food so people didn’t need to go out shopping so often.

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