AFRICA LIVE: TANZANIA CORONAVIRUS 'HAS ENDED' - POLITICIAN




A senior politician has sparked disbelief among Tanzanians by claiming that coronavirus in the country "has ended".


Paul Makonda, regional commissioner of the country's biggest city Dar es Salaam, called on the public to celebrate in the streets on Sunday. He even told residents which shops had 80%-off sales, so they could buy new clothes for the street party.


Paul Makonda

His comments go against World Health Organization (WHO) social distancing advice.


Tanzania stopped publishing figures of daily confirmed cases three weeks ago, raising questions about the true scale of its Covid-19 problem. The United States said earlier this month that Tanzania was widely under-reporting the spread of the virus.


President John Magufuli has also urged the nation to hold three days of prayer from today until Sunday to show gratitude for an alleged decline in cases.


Opposition MP Zitto Kabwe criticised that move, saying it was not true that the number of cases in the country was declining.


There have been 509 reported cases in the country and 21 reported deaths.


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NIGERIANS RUSH TO STOCK UP ON HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE

Chloroquine, like most other drugs, can be bought over the counter without a doctor's prescription in NigeriaImage caption: Chloroquine, like most other drugs, can be bought over the counter without a doctor's prescription in Nigeria


The authorities in Nigeria say they are concerned that people are buying large quantities of hydroxychloroquine - a drug touted, but not yet proven, to help cure Covid-19.


Head of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, Boss Mustapha, said the government had through its surveillance system, received reports of abuse of the anti-malaria drug.


“We wish to reiterate that this drug has not been certified for use in treating Covid-19 in Nigeria by the relevant health and pharmaceutical authorities.


"Self-medication of any kind is fraught with the danger of increasing risks of avoidable casualties," he said.


Chloroquine has been phased out as a front-line anti-malaria drug in Nigeria, where malaria is endemic, following widespread resistance to it.


However, the drug has been approved for clinical trials in the treatment of coronavirus in Lagos state, Nigeria's epicentre for the virus which has so far recorded more than 3,000 cases.


Chloroquine has not yet been shown to be safe and effective in the prevention or treatment of coronavirus and the World Health Organization has warned that individuals who self-medicate risk causing themselves serious harm.


In late March, there were reports of people in Nigeria overdosing on the drug with some ending up in hospital, after US President Donald Trump touted hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for Covid-19.


This week, Mr Trump said he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventative measure against Covid-19, although scientists have warned about side effects.


Nigeria has reported 4,898 active cases of Covid-19 with 211 deaths and 1,907 recoveries.



FOOTBALL FANS IN MALAWI PUSH FOR RETURN OF THE LEAGUE

Football fans in Malawi have demanded that the local league, halted as one of the measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, should resume.


Led by supporters of the country's two most followed clubs, Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers, they petitioned the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) saying they saw no reason why football could not return while political rallies, which attract huge numbers of people, were being held by politicians ahead of the expected 23 June presidential election re-run.


The 2020 Malawi football season was scheduled to start in March but was called off after government banned all gatherings of more than 100 people.


The head of FAM, Walter Nyamilandu, said he was consulting relevant authorities before deciding whether to allow the league to resume.



IRC WARNS OF UNDETECTED VIRUS OUTBREAKS IN AFRICA

African countries are at risk of having undetected coronavirus outbreaks due to low testing rates, according to the International Rescue Committee (IRC).


Nigeria, Chad and Mali are listed as having the lowest rate of coronavirus testing in the continent.


Nigeria, with a population of about 200 million, has conducted just 40,000 tests.


South Africa, with a population of 57 million, has conducted 525,433 tests.


Chad and Mali have also been listed by IRC as having low testing rates - at 105 per million and 173 per million respectively.


The IRC is appealing for international support for countries with low testing rates.


The organisation also expressed concern about countries like Tanzania whose data is either not shared publicly or is inconsistent.


This "makes tracking the spread of the virus, particularly amongst the world’s most vulnerable, all the more challenging", the IRC said.


It, however, praised Uganda for "instituting early mitigation measures".



ZIMBABWE TEACHERS THREATEN TO STRIKE IF SCHOOLS REOPEN

Teachers in Zimbabwe have opposed a phased reopening of schools saying safety measures were not yet in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the state-owned Herald newspaper reports.


The teachers' union chairperson, Sifiso Ndlovu, was quoted in the paper as saying that if the government proceeded with the plan, teachers would go on strike.


Zimbabwe's education ministry recently announced plans to reopen schools starting with final year students to allow them to sit for national examinations starting on 29 June.


"Learners are not in the right psychological space to write examinations," the Herald quoted Mr Ndlovu as saying.


He urged the government to consider cancelling the exams like the private Cambridge international examinations body had done.


Several African countries are planning to reopen schools in June including Tanzania and South Africa.



MALAWI ELECTION: WHAT NEXT AFTER RESIGNATION OF ELECTION CHIEF?
Protesters had demanded that Jane Ansah stand down

The resignation of Jane Ansah, the electoral commission boss, has divided Malawians just like their assessment of how she performed her role during last year's contested election.


The opposition and civil society groups blamed her for the irregularities that undermined the fairness of the poll that elected President Peter Mutharika for a second term. The election was however nullified by judges of the constitutional court and the Supreme Court because of irregularities.


Ms Ansah's departure should ordinarily pave the way for a new leadership, acceptable to both sides ahead of the election expected to be held on 23 June. But in the short term it appears to have brought more confusion than clarity.


The actual words Ms Ansah used in announcing her departure were: “I have written to the appointing authority tendering my resignation.”


Sceptics believe the “appointing authority” - meaning President Mutharika - will choose not to accept the resignation and the saga will simply continue.


But should President Mutharika agree there will still be more questions to answered:

Who takes over? When? and Will they have time to deliver a free, fair and credible election in less than two months?


According to the law, the head of the electoral commission must be a judge, nominated by the judiciary and formally appointed by the president.


The rest of the electoral commissioners are political party representatives, nominated by parties represented in parliament and formally appointed to the job by the president.


As things stand, it is President Mutharika who will have a big say about what happens next.


He may choose not to act on Ms Ansah's resignation letter or reject it and allow the political bickering to continue, or he may choose to accept the resignation and, accordingly engage in consultation with the judiciary and opposition parties, to name a commission to take charge of fresh elections.


But that still won’t guarantee the elections will be held.


The country is yet to get all the money it needs for holding the poll at a time when it is dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.


Ms Ansah may have announced she is departing the stage, but Malawi's political drama is set to continue.



CORONAVIRUS: TANZANIA WALKING ALONE
President Magufuli has been criticised for not releasing data on coronavirus

President Magufuli has been criticised for not releasing data on coronavirus

Tanzania has distinguished itself as an outlier in the middle of the biggest global health crisis of modern times.


With much of the world scrambling to stop the outbreak through restrictions of movement and ramping up testing, Tanzania has chosen an unusual approach.


Whilst there exists no template of what works against the Covid-19 pandemic, the general consensus is that being able to measure the extent of the spread of the virus is a necessary step towards controlling it.


Tanzania has been doing the opposite. Since 19 April the East African nation has not published data on new infections.


President John Magufuli has questioned the reliability of testing kits, shut the national laboratory and a month on declared victory over the virus.

It is not known if testing has resumed.


Foreign missions in the country and neighbouring countries are raising the alarm.


The US embassy urged its citizens to be cautious, saying there was a high probability of getting infected in the commercial capital, Dar es Salam.


The UK has been repatriating its citizens.


Kenya said recently that 182 foreigners tested positive at the countries' shared border and denied them entry.


The decision infuriated the Tanzanian government, leading top officials to accuse Kenya of sabotaging its tourism sector.


Zambia has also closed its border after finding a significant number of new imported cases.

Tanzania will no doubt be the subject of many lessons on responding to pandemics in the coming months and years.



CHINESE NATIONALS ARRESTED WITH $250,000 BRIBE

Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has arrested two Chinese nationals for allegedly offering a $250,000 (£203,000) bribe in local currency to one of its senior officials.


Meng Wei Kun and Xu Koi were arrested on Tuesday inside in their office in the northern city of Sokoto as they gave the money stacked in boxes to the official who pretended to have accepted the bribe, the commission said.


The alleged bribe was said to be an attempt to scuttle an investigation into multi-million dollar corruption allegations involving a Chinese construction company in Nigeria where the two suspects work.


The bribe money was stacked in boxes

The EFCC said it was investigating alleged corruption involving about $130m (£105m) in contracts for roads and water projects.


It is also investigating money-laundering allegations.


The contracts were awarded by Nigeria’s Zamfara state government to China Zhonghoa Nigeria Limited between 2012 and 2019.



Neither the Chinese company nor its officials have commented on the matter.


Arrests of officials of foreign companies linked to corruption are rare in Nigeria.


NIGER REOPENS MOSQUES AND CHURCHES
Worshippers will have to adhere to social distancing

Niger has further relaxed coronavirus restrictions, allowing mosques and churches to reopen from Wednesday.


Places of worship had been closed for nearly two months as part of measures to contain the spread of the virus.


The authorities say they are reopening them because the situation has improved. But worshippers have to adhere to social-distancing rules, wear face masks and regularly wash their hands.


Mosques and churches must also be disinfected before prayer sessions or services.


A dusk-to-dawn curfew in the capital, Niamey, has also been lifted. But hotels, airports and land borders remain closed.



In a statement, the government warned that mosque and churches could be closed if the situation deteriorates.


Niger has confirmed a total of 854 coronavirus cases.


Senegal reopened places of worship on Tuesday and reduced the hours of its night-time curfew.




US ISSUES COVID-19 RISK ALERT ABOUT TANZANIAN CITY
Dar es Salaam residents can be seen wearing face coverings

The US embassy in Tanzania has said there is an "extremely high risk" of contracting coronavirus in Dar es Salaam, the country’s commercial hub.


In a health alert, the embassy cautioned there was an exponential growth of the Covid-19 pandemic in the East African country.


It alleged that hospitals in Dar es Salaam were overwhelmed and warned that because of the limited capacity of the healthcare system in the country, patients might face life-threatening delays for medical care.


“The embassy has strongly recommended that US government personnel and their families remain at home except for essential activities (eg grocery shopping) and substantially limit into [their] private homes the entry of anyone but regular residents,” the statement posted on its website and social media pages says.


The BBC asked the embassy to comment further on the allegations.


“Regarding your specific questions on Covid-19 in Tanzania, I refer you to the Ministry of Health, which is responsible for leading the Covid-19 response for the Tanzanian people,” said Brinille Eliane Ellis, the embassy's counsellor for public affairs.


Tanzania, which has not released regular Covid-19 updates - its last one was in April, has recorded more than 500 cases, including 21 deaths.


President John Magufuli has caused controversy by questioning the accuracy of virus tests and imposing far fewer restrictions compared to other countries in the region.


The government has denied allegations that it is wavering in its fight against coronavirus.



Credit to Source: BBC

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