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Cameroon receives 200 000 doses of Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine
12 April 2021, 4:03 AM

Cameroon took delivery on Sunday of 200 000 doses of China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccines, the first vaccines to arrive in the country, which will enable it inoculate frontline workers as it battles rising cases of coronavirus, the health ministry said.

The Central African nation has been hit hard by a second wave of the pandemic. The health ministry has so far reported over 61 700 cases with 919 deaths since the outbreak.

Reuters data shows that daily average numbers of coronavirus-related deaths reported in Cameroon has reached a new high of more than 53.

The health ministry said in a statement on Friday the doses would help the country, which is yet to start its vaccination campaign as it awaits vaccines that are in tight supply.

Cameroon is expected to receive vaccines through the COVAX global vaccines sharing scheme aimed at helping poor nations access vaccines. It was allocated around 1.75 million doses in the scheme and has ordered 1.29 million doses.

Australia abandons COVID-19 vaccination targets after new advice on AstraZeneca shots
12 April 2021, 3:41 AM

Australia has abandoned a goal to vaccinate nearly all of its 26 million population by the end of 2021 following advice that people under the age of 50 take Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine rather than AstraZeneca’s shot.

Australia, which had banked on the AstraZeneca vaccine for the majority of its shots, had no plans to set any new targets for completing its vaccination programme, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a Facebook post on Sunday afternoon.

“While we would like to see these doses completed before the end of the year, it is not possible to set such targets given the many uncertainties involved,” Morrison said.

Authorities in Canberra changed their recommendation on Pfizer shots for under-50s on Thursday, after European regulators reiterated the possibility of links between the AstraZeneca shot and reports of rare cases of blood clots.

Australia, which raced to double its order of the Pfizer vaccine last week, had originally planned to have its entire population vaccinated by the end of October.
Australia’s hardline response to the virus largely stopped community transmissions but the vaccination rollout has become a hot political topic – and a source of friction between Morrison and state and territory leaders – after the country vaccinated only a fraction of its four million target by the end of March.

About 1.16 million COVID-19 doses have now been administered, Morrison added, noting the speed of Australia’s vaccination programme was in line with other peer nations, including Germany and France, and ahead of Canada and Japan.

Australia began vaccinations much later than some other nations, partly because of its low number of infections, which stand at just under 29,400, with 909 deaths, since the pandemic began.

Update on investigation into use of AstraZeneca vaccine: Stuart Smith

Ecuador candidates cast their votes in presidential runoff
12 April 2021, 3:16 AM

Ecuador’s presidential candidates cast their votes on Sunday in the presidential runoff election. 
    
The country will decide whether to maintain the pro-market policies of the last four years or return to the socialism of the preceding decade as the Andean country seeks to revive its stagnant economy. 
    
Left-wing economist Andres Arauz is offering cash handouts and a return to the socialist policies of his mentor, former President Rafael Correa who is living in Europe and has been convicted on graft charges. Banker Guillermo Lasso is promising open markets and renewed foreign investment to create jobs. 
    
The vote is being closely watched by foreign investors, who say Arauz’s social spending plans are ambitious in the face of the government’s delicate financial situation and a weak economy that has been made worse by the coronavirus pandemic. 
    
Disappointment in the candidates appeared to be reflected in a thin turnout. 
    
A mere 45% of registered voters had cast ballots by mid-afternoon, National Electoral Council President Diana Atamaint said in a televised broadcast, urging citizens to vote to “give legitimacy to the next elected authorities.” 
    
Results are expected on Sunday night. The new president will take office on May 24. 
    
The oil-exporting nation’s economy was already weak due to low crude prices when the coronavirus outbreak started. The pandemic has pushed a third of the population of more than 17 million into poverty and left half a million people unemployed. 
    
President Lenin Moreno, who did not seek re-election, imposed painful austerity measures as part of a $6.5 billion financing agreement with the International Monetary Fund, but was unable to kick-start the economy. 

Man Utd beat Spurs, West Ham maintain top-four charge
12 April 2021, 2:39 AM

Manchester United underlined their ‘comeback kings’ tag by recovering from a first-half deficit to beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 on Sunday and cement their place in the Premier League’s top four.

Victories for Chelsea and Liverpool on Saturday and West Ham United earlier on Sunday meant defeat at Tottenham might have induced some jitters at Old Trafford.

But they responded to going behind to Son Heung-min’s opener to win 3-1 with goals by Fred, Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood. Victory ‘narrowed’ Manchester City’s lead to 11 points but more importantly for United they are nine points above fifth-placed Chelsea with seven games remaining.

United had an opener scored by Cavani controversially disallowed after Scott McTominay was harshly adjudged to have fouled Son in the build-up – accidentally catching the South Korean in the face with a trailing hand.

“When you get the injustice and adversity, that decision (to disallow the goal) is just shocking,” said Solskjaer, whose side have now earned an incredible 28 points from losing positions this season.

“But we came together and composed ourselves. We went there as a team on a mission, we looked like a team on a mission. After they scored, we felt the injustice and adversity and that went into our players’ heads. It was good character we showed and we had to come back.”

West Ham maintained their audacious assault on a Champions League berth with a 3-2 home win over third-placed Leicester City, having taken a 3-0 lead for the third successive game.

Jesse Lingard’s double, taking his total since arriving on loan from Manchester United to eight, and Jarrod Bowen’s goal just after halftime made it 3-0.
But just as against Arsenal, who hit back to draw 3-3 last month, and Wolverhampton Wanderers in midweek when West Ham hung on for a 3-2 win, they gave manager David Moyes a fright.

Kelechi Iheanacho scored twice for Leicester but West Ham hung on to move back into fourth place with 55 points from 31 games, two ahead of Chelsea and three ahead of Liverpool.

Tottenham are six points behind West Ham with their top-four hopes now fading fast.

“We can’t do it that way too many more times, it’s not good for the ticker!” Moyes said of his side’s nervy finale.

“We need to learn our lesson, we have been 3-0 up in the last three games and made hard work of it.”

Leicester are only a point ahead of West Ham and now looking over their shoulders, having looked nailed on for a top-four place not long ago. Their cause was not helped by manager leaving out trio Ayoze Perez, James Maddison and Hamza Choudhury for a breach of COVID-19 protocols.

RELEGATION BATTLE

Sheffield United’s 3-0 home defeat by Arsenal left them on the cusp of relegation. They are 18 points behind the safety zone with seven games remaining.
But Newcastle United took a massive step towards ensuring their survival as they came from a goal down to beat Burnley 2-1 on Sunday — a result that put them six points above third-from-bottom Fulham, having also played a game less.

Burnley had led through an 18th-minute goal from Czech striker Matej Vydra but Frenchman Allan Saint-Maximin came off the bench to turn the game around for Newcastle.

Two minutes after coming on Saint-Maximin set up Jacob Murphy for an equaliser, then claimed victory for Newcastle with a brilliant solo goal.
Newcastle still have to face Manchester City, Liverpool, Leicester and West Ham but are edging towards safety.

“It is three points towards that magical figure,” said manager Steve Bruce, whose team had just two wins from their last 19 league matches. “It is a lot more healthier now than it was this morning.”

Amid COVID-19 concerns and multiple candidates, Peru votes for new president and Congress
12 April 2021, 2:07 AM

Peru’s presidential candidates sought to drum up enthusiasm on Sunday as the country picked a new leader, with one arriving at a voting station on horseback and others pledging to turn the page on the corruption and mismanagement of recent decades.

The election for a new president and Congress comes against the backdrop of a fierce second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and widespread public apathy that has meant none of the 18 candidates to lead the country has polled more than 13%.

Polls are scheduled to close at 7 p.m. (0000 GMT), when Ipsos is expected to publish an exit poll, followed about two hours later by fast counts. The first official results are expected by 11:30 p.m. (0430 GMT Monday).

Two contenders from opposite poles of the political spectrum could face off in the second round in June. Hernando de Soto, a liberal economist, and leftist professor Pedro Castillo, have both edged to the front of the pack following late gains in support, according to the latest opinion poll.

Keiko Fujimori, the conservative, US-educated daughter of jailed former President Alberto Fujimori, is close behind, followed by populist candidate Yonhy Lescano, ultraconservative Rafael López Aliaga and leftist candidate Veronika Mendoza.

Voting early in the capital, Lima, Peru’s interim president, Francisco Sagasti, who has led the Andean nation since a political crisis sparked by the impeachment for alleged corruption of a predecessor last November, insisted voting was safe.

“All possible measures have been taken to avoid contagions. There should be no fear of complying with your civic duty,” said Sagasti, who is not a candidate.

The country’s 25.2 million eligible voters were told to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and bring their own pens to mark ballots. Peru reported 384 COVID-19 deaths on Saturday, a record daily high for the country.

Fujimori told an election breakfast that voters should turn out to guarantee a new Peru.

“I know voter apathy is not just because of the pandemic but also because of the abandonment of recent decades, of an inefficient and incapable state that has not been able to meet the expectations of the Peruvian people,” she said.

“I call on you to vote once more, with joy, enthusiasm and conviction. Absenteeism is not an option, nor is a blank vote.”

In the Cajamarca region of northern Peru, Castillo arrived to vote in his trademark white sombrero and on a horse that took fright at the crowds and attempted to bolt.

Among voters Castillo had impressed was Juana Rivera, 33, a street hawker voting in the San Borja district of Lima.

“I will vote for Castillo because he has said he will increase the salary of teachers and police, and because everyone else is corrupt,” she said.

MARKET JITTERS

The tight race has led to jitters among market watchers of the world’s second-largest copper producer.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. (1200 GMT), and long lines had formed by midmorning outside polling stations, which were unable to open because voting supervisors – picked at random from among the populace – failed to show up.

Peru’s National Elections Office (ONPE) said 75% of voting booths were operational by 9 a.m. After an appeal for more volunteers, all but a handful were up and running by midafternoon.

Pedro Barragan, a member of Peru’s large expatriate population casting votes abroad, told Reuters TV in Buenos Aires he hoped the new president delivered on campaign promises.

“Not like the previous candidates who made promises but ultimately left without doing anything for the country,” he said.

 

 

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