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COVID vaccine imports slows down causing a third wave sweeps across Africa

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WHO says continent urgently needs more jabs as eight countries report rise of 30% in cases in a week

African countries face a last-ditch battle against a third wave of Covid infections, as the supply of vaccines to the continent “grinds to a halt”, top health officials have warned.

“The threat of a third wave in Africa is real and rising. Our priority is clear – it’s crucial that we swiftly get vaccines into the arms of Africans at high risk of falling seriously ill and dying of Covid-19,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization (WHO) regional director for Africa.

The WHO said the pandemic was now trending upwards in 14 countries and in the past week alone, eight countries had witnessed an abrupt rise of over 30% in cases. However, vaccine shipments to African nations have ground to a near halt.

“While many countries outside Africa have now vaccinated their high-priority groups and are able to even consider vaccinating their children, African countries are unable to even follow up with second doses for high-risk groups,” Moeti said.

Only 50m doses have been received in Africa, of which 31 million doses had been administered in 50 countries with a combined population of more than a billion.

There are widespread fears among senior health officials that the continent could suffer similar or worse devastation to that seen in India, which has a more robust health system than many African countries.

Africa has officially registered almost 5m Covid-19 cases and more than 130,000 deaths, a figure representing 2.9% of global cases and 3.7% of deaths, but many experts believe the total is a very significant underestimate, and that the death toll is likely to be many times higher.

The UN-backed Covax vaccine-sharing facility that many African countries hoped would ensure equitable access worldwide has failed to provide more than a tiny fraction of the shots needed, as rich nations buy up all available supplies and Indian producers of the favoured AstraZeneca vaccine service only local demand.

Burkina Faso, which has a population of 20 million, this week received just 115,000 doses from the Covax Facility, while Rwanda and Togo each received about 100,000 Pfizer vaccine doses. In Zimbabwe, hundreds of people are being turned away from vaccination centres as the country’s supplies of China’s Sinovac vaccine appear to have run out.

Infections are also surging in Angola, Namibia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where 32 members of parliament and several aides to the president, Félix Tshisekedi, are among those who have died.

Prof Jean-Marie Kayembe, a member of DRC’s anti-coronavirus taskforce, told the UN’s Radio Okapi that rising numbers of cases and “saturation” of healthcare centres made it clear that the country was “in the third [wave] at the moment”.

In South Africa, where a faltering vaccine campaign has been further delayed by problems at plants in the US making the Johnson and Johnson shot, authorities are reporting a sustained increase in cases and deaths. Less than one in 40 of the population of sub-Saharan Africa’s most developed nation have received a jab and excess mortality statistics suggest the actual toll may be two or even three times higher.

Uganda, which has received only a third of 3m vaccines expected from Covax, recorded a 131% week-on-week rise last week, with infection clusters in schools, rising cases among health workers and isolation centres and intensive care units filling up.

The country’s president, Yoweri Museveni, further toughened virus curbs on Sunday night, ordering the closure of schools for six weeks and banning most gatherings.

Uganda has counted 52,935 cases of coronavirus, of which 383 have been fatal, figures believed to be undercounted as a result of low testing.

“In this wave, the intensity of severe and critically ill Covid-19 patients, and deaths is higher than what we experienced in the first wave of the pandemic,” Museveni said in a televised address.

“We are concerned that this will exhaust available bed space and oxygen supply in hospitals, unless we constitute urgent public health measures,” said Museveni.

Such shortages are almost universal. In a survey last month, the WHO found health facilities and personnel crucial for critically ill Covid patients are grossly inadequate in many African countries.

Of 23 countries surveyed, it found that most had less than one intensive care unit (ICU) bed per 100,000 population and only one-third had mechanical ventilators.

By comparison, rich countries such as Germany and the United States have more than 25 ICU beds per 100,000 people.

“Treatment is the last line of defence against this virus and we cannot let it be breached,” Moeti told reporters, calling for better equipment for hospital and medical staff.

A recent study followed 3,000 coronavirus patients admitted to intensive care units across 10 African countries between May and December last year. Almost half of them died within 30 days of admission.

Tanzania, Burundi, Chad and Eritrea are yet to start any vaccination campaign. There has been a resurgence of infection in Seychelles despite it being the most vaccinated country in Africa, possibly due to new variants and the relatively low efficacy of China’s Sinopharm vaccine.

Studies have shown that millions of people in Africa will be pushed into poverty and many more forced to surrender hard-won gains in income and quality of life as the effects of the pandemic continue to surge across the continent. Although analysts predict a steady economic recovery on the continent during 2021, the outbreak has undone years of growth.

Analysis by the US Pew Research Center found that the recession caused by Covid has pushed 131 million people into poverty across the world. Sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia accounted for most of the increase, reversing years of progress.

About 494 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, out of a total population of 1.14 billion, were expected to be living in poverty before the pandemic in 2020. That total has risen by 40 million, the Pew analysis estimated.

Culled from the Guardian

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Africa

IPOB Leader, Nnamdi Kanu Sues Kenya Government For ‘Illegally Detaining, Extraditing’ Him To Nigeria

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According to the lawsuit filed on Tuesday, there are five respondents which are the Cabinet secretary, Director of Immigration Services, Director of Criminal Investigations, Commanding Officer of Police at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and the Attorney-General of Kenya.

Germany-based Kingsley Kanu has filed a suit against the Kenyan government at the High Court of Kenya, Nairobi for its involvement in the abduction and extraordinary rendition of his brother and leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu to Nigeria.

According to the lawsuit filed on Tuesday, there are five respondents which are the Cabinet secretary, Director of Immigration Services, Director of Criminal Investigations, Commanding Officer of Police at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and the Attorney-General of Kenya.

Kanu’s special counsel in Nigeria, Aloy Ejimakor disclosed this to the media on Thursday with evidence of court documents.

The lawsuit read partly, “This petition concerns the unconstitutional and unlawful removal engineered by the respondents through abduction, denial of fair administrative action in violation of the human dignity of the subject: Nwannekaenvi Nnamdi Kenny Okwu’Kan (Mr Kanu) whose presence in Kenya was lawful and non-threatening.

“This petition seeks a declaration of rights and appropriate reliefs against the involuntary and illegal return of Mr. Kanu to Nigeria when there were substantial grounds for believing that the person would be in danger of being subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment that is prohibited  by the Constitution of Kenya and the human rights treaties in force in Kenya.

“The petitioner is a German citizen ordinarily residing in Munich within Germany. This petitioner brings this petition on behalf of his brother, Mr. Kanu.”

While speaking on the suit with BBC according to the audiotape obtained by SaharaReporters through Ejimakor, Kanu’s lead counsel in Kenya, Prof. George Wajackoyah said there are pieces of proof that the Kenyan government was culpable despite its denial of involvement.

Wajackoyah stated that Kanu cannot be tried in Nigeria because there was no due process in repatriating him to Nigeria, which made it an extra rendition, and the fact that Kanu is a British citizen and has renounced his Nigerian citizenship.

He said. “We filed a petition today (Tuesday) against the Kenyan government and various actors in this case for their unconstitutional and unlawful removal which denied our client his human rights, which was engineered by 1st to 5th respondents in the violation of human rights of Nnamdi Kanu.

“We are serving the respondents and from there, we take on. Once we filed and served, then the court will give us a date, and that should be within a very short period of time because it was served under a certificate of urgency.”

Speaking on the evidence that indicted the Kenyan government, the Kenyan lawyer disclosed, “We have copies of his passport and a stamp that he was indeed in Kenya. We also have evidence he was in his residence on a particular day. We also have material proof that he was at the airport on a particular day to meet a friend and there he was arrested. Definitely, he was kidnapped.”

Wajackoyah further told BBC, “Why on earth will the Kenyan government deport a British citizen to Nigerian territory.  Kanu has renounced his Nigerian citizenship. Extradition and extra rendition are two things. Extradition has to follow due process, you can’t just pick up somebody and throw him. That’s barbaric. It’s outlawed by international law.

“If they are trying a Nigerian national, certainly (they will win). But, if they are trying a British national, not at all. It is an abuse of the court process for the Nigerian court to try a British citizen who has no connection with Nigeria and without due process. So, I have been given instruction by his family in London and his brother in Germany to file a lawsuit against the Kenyan government.”

Culled from the Sahara Reporters

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Nine killed as crane collapses in Nairobi

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Nine people, including two Chinese, were killed and two others injured Thursday after a crane collapsed at a construction site in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, police said.

The crane came crashing down while a team of workers was attempting to dismantle it, ZJCC, the Chinese construction company behind the project, said.

Seven Kenyans and two Chinese died in the accident, which also injured two people, said Andrew Mbogo, police chief of Kilimani neighbourhood, where workers were building the 14-storey student hostel.

The cause of the collapse was not immediately clear.

Eyewitnesses said they heard people screaming as the crane slammed into the ground.

“We were having lunch when we heard things falling and thought part of the building was coming down,” 27-year-old construction worker Michael Odhiambo told AFP.

“When we got there, we found a crane had snapped and tumbled down,” he said, adding that one of the workers managed to escape with his life thanks to a safety harness.

Josephine Matere, a food hawker, described seeing the green crane swing wildly as people desperately clung to it, their colleagues watching in horror.

“They were screaming and watching their colleagues fall,” she said, showing a video of the incident.

Fire fighters arrived at the scene nearly two hours after the bodies had been taken to a morgue in a police lorry.

The injured victims were being treated at a nearby hospital, police said.

ZJCC released a statement offering condolences and promising a full probe into the accident.

“We have since sealed off the site and are collaborating with the Kenya Police Service and the Directorate of Occupational Safety & Health Services (DOSHS) in conducting further investigations into the incident in accordance with laws and regulations governing construction sites in Kenya.”

The incident happened opposite the headquarters of the defence ministry, with military police now guarding the site.

Shoddy construction and flouted regulations have led to many such deadly accidents in Nairobi.

The East African nation is undergoing a construction boom, but corruption has allowed contractors to cut corners or bypass regulations.

At least three people died in December 2019 when a residential building collapsed in Nairobi.

That incident came three months after seven children died and scores were injured when their school was flattened in an accident blamed on third-rate construction.

In April 2016, 49 people were killed when a six-floor apartment building crumbled in the northeast of the capital after days of heavy rain caused floods and landslides.

The building, constructed two years earlier, had been scheduled to be demolished after being declared structurally unsound.

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Kenya Police Fail To Prosecute Citizen Who Stole N26.5million From Nigerian Investor

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Hashil conspired with people who pretended to be police officers and arrested and handcuffed him before driving him around town.

The police in Mombasa have released a Kenyan man suspecting of having masterminded the abduction and robbing at gunpoint of some $53,000 (N26,500,000) from Bitcoin accounts belonging to a Nigerian national (name withheld).

Police reports seen by the media indicated that Abdulmanaf Hashil is alleged to have used his closeness with the Nigerian man who is a Bitcoin trader to rob him of the currency from his mobile telephone.

The Nigerian, who has since gone underground for fear of his life and that of his immediate family including his Kenyan wife and four-year-old son, said that he had known Hashil since he arrived in Mombasa two years ago.

“Hashil even assisted me in getting a house in Nyali where I lived with my family.He regularly visited me and we become close as family even attending family outings together,” the Nigerian said.

The Nigerian man said that last week, Hashil conspired with people who pretended to be police officers and arrested and handcuffed him before driving him around town .

“All this time they were in constant communication with a person who was giving them instructions.A gun was pointed to my head and I was ordered to reveal the mobile pin number of my Bitcoin account,” he said

He managed to break free from his abductors on the night he was hijacked after he spotted police patrolling.

“I shouted for help calling on police to come to my rescue. My abductors seemed to know their game plan well and even handed me over to police and left. I was promptly arrested and told I had broken curfew rules as it was past 10.00 pm,” he said.

He added that all this time, his wife and a neighbour were searching for him and had reported him missing at the Nyali Police station.

The abductors are said to have gotten in touch with his wife pretending to be police officers and demanded to be sent money for him to be released.

His wife obliged and sent sh50,000 to the abductors.

The second day upon his release, the Nigerian discovered that all the monies in his Bitcoin accounts had been transferred from his mobile telephone.

”I reported the matter to Nyali Police station and was issued with an OB number OB 38/17/08/2021,” he said.

The media gathered that instead of charging Hashil to court, the police on Tuesday morning released him.

“He was supposed to be in court but was released this morning by the police. The police failed to charge him to court. Hashil even threatened the Nigerian man in the station right in presence of the police,” a source told the media.

Culled from the Sahara Reporters

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