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Kenya Looks to China for COVID-19 Vaccine

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President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya has ordered the ministry of health to shop for coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine in China, a government official has disclosed.

Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe, in a statement on Monday, said President Kenyatta gave the order following the increasing cases of the disease in Kenya.

“Covid-19 seems to be making a comeback with a vengeance and for us in Kenya, the cases in the counties seem to be growing,” Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe said on Monday.

“While Kemri continues to collaborate with AstraZeneca and Oxford University in the trials for this vaccine, the government remains open to other collaborative opportunities.”

On Monday, 302 people tested positive for the virus, from a sample of 3,038 bringing the total of positives since March 13 to 83,618.

The death rate remains high and yesterday 17 people succumbed to the virus, bringing total fatalities to 1,469.

There are now more than 80,000 people who have been confirmed Covid-19 positive in Kenya. More than 1,400 have died from the disease.

The country’s decision comes in the wake of rich countries in the west buying nearly 3.8 billion doses of vaccines currently in development, according to a study by Duke Global Health Innovation Centre.

China has five home-grown vaccine candidates in phase three trials, usually, the last step before government regulators vet the vaccine for approval.

Chinese President Xi Jinping already promised the successful candidates will be offered to Africa at a discounted price leading to China being accused of ‘vaccine diplomacy.’ However, countries, where the Chinese vaccines are being tested, will receive preference.

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East Africa News

Cases of Sexual Violence Reported in Tigray – UN Envoy

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The United Nations (UN) has revealed that serious allegations of sexual violence are being reported in Tigray, northern Ethiopia.

Pramila Pattern, a Mauritian-British barrister and UN envoy on sexual violence in conflict, said the reports included a high number of alleged rapes in Mekelle, Tigray’s capital.

Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) seized control of Mekelle from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) on 28 November after several weeks of fighting.

“There are also disturbing reports of individuals allegedly forced to rape members of their own family, under threats of imminent violence,” Ms Patten said in a statement.

“Some women have also reportedly been forced by military elements to have sex in exchange for basic commodities.

“While medical centres have indicated an increase in the demand for emergency contraception and testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) which is often an indicator of sexual violence in conflict.

“In addition, there are increasing reports of sexual violence against women and girls in a number of refugee camps.”

She called on those parties involved in the hostilities “to commit to a zero-tolerance policy for crimes of sexual violence”.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a ground and air offensive on 4 November to oust the region’s ruling party, after its troops captured federal military bases.

He declared victory in Tigray after a month’s conflict, but fugitive TPLF leaders vowed to continue the fight.

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COVID-19: Kenya Airways Suspends Flights to 2 European Hubs

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Kenya Airways said on Friday it has suspended flights to two major European hubs following the introduction of new regulations as a result of a new variant of the coronavirus.

The Airline said the suspension of the flights is temporary.

The service suspension affects flights to France – Charles de Gaulle Airport and the Netherlands – Schiphol Airport through the month of February 2021.

“The temporary suspension is due to the new COVID-19 regulations in Europe that have resulted in depressed demand,” the airline said in a statement.

The airline expects to resume regular services to France on 3 March, 2021, and to the Netherlands on 7 March, 2021.

The airline said the resumption of the flights will be communicated. “We will keep customers updated in case of any changes to these resumption plans,” the airline added.

KQ said customers who had booked their flights to these two destinations, would be provided with alternative flight options.

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15-Day COVID-19 Lockdown: Rwanda Distributes Food to Vulnerable Families

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Following its decision to lockdown Kigali, its capital, the Rwanda authorities have begun the distribution of COVID-19 palliatives to vulnerable families in affected by the restriction.

News Central reports that the Rwandan government had, on Monday, imposed a 15-day lockdown on Kigali to curb the spread coronavirus after a surge in cases in the capital.

All movements outside homes require an approved permit from the police, except for essential service providers.

However, to help some 3,000 families – identified as the most vulnerable – cope with the lockdown the government is distributing food rations to households.

Local and international reports said that as of Thursday evening households have started receiving sacks of rice, maize flour and beans.

Some 3,000 families have been identified as the most vulnerable. The city has a population of about one million people.

There have been concerns that hundreds of thousands of residents who live hand to mouth would face hunger during the lockdown.

The authorities have assured that food will reach the most vulnerable, as well as poor Covid-19 patients being treated at home.

The rations were being delivered by volunteers who had tested negative before the programme started, city officials said.

A free phone line is available for requests from “those who want and merit the food aid to be delivered at their doorsteps”.

On Thursday Rwanda reported nine Covid-19 deaths, the highest daily fatalities so far, and 310 new cases.

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