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Nigerian doctors strike over police harassment during Covid-19 curfew2 minutes read

Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu later granted their request along with previous agitations by journalists and other essential workers to be allowed to go to work or return home freely after work between the 8pm to 6am.

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Health officials wear protective gear to tend to Lassa fever patients at the Institute of Lassa Fever Research and Control in Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital in Irrua, Edo State, midwest Nigeria, on March 6, 2018. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

Doctors and health workers in Nigeria’s commercial city of Lagos, where the highest number of Coronavirus patients have been recorded on Wednesday embarked on a “sit-at-home” action over “continuous harassment” by security agencies in the state while implementing the lockdown order.

“All doctors under our auspices (Nigeria Medical Association) should proceed on a sit-at-home starting from 6pm on Wednesday, May 20, indefinitely, until such time when the government and the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, are clear on how they wish to operationalise the restriction of movement directive as it relates to essential service and service providers, including healthcare services and Doctors”, a statement jointly signed by its chairman and secretary, Saliu Oseni and Ramon Moronkola said.

The doctors union said the level of harassment had been on the increase, and that it received “complaints about several cases of harassment of doctors and other health workers by security officials of the Lagos State Police Command” despite a directive by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to grant essential workers free movement.

Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, was accused of issuing conflicting directives on social and mainstream media to the effect that essential workers, including doctors and other health workers, were not exempted from the ongoing lockdown order.

“There was a most disturbing case of an ambulance conveying an injured patient, which was prevented from moving to the destination, while the attending health workers were harassed and temporarily detained” the doctors said.

The health workers demanded that “a written statement, signed by government and the appropriate Police authorities, with clear terms on the status of essential services, including healthcare services and its providers, be issued, advertised in the social and mainstream media, and a copy submitted to the secretariat of the Lagos State branch of NMA.”

The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu eventually granted their request along with previous agitations by journalists and other essential workers to be allowed to go to work or return home freely after work between 8pm and 6am.

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Algeria insists on hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19 treatment

WHO said on Monday it had temporarily suspended clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for coronavirus.

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Algeria has disclosed plans to continue the use of hydroxychloroquine in tackling the coronavirus, despite the discouragement by the World Health Organization that has suspended clinical trials of such treatments following a study which showed that the drug caused more harm than good.

“We’ve treated thousands of cases with this medicine, very successfully so far,” said Mohamed Bekkat, a member of the scientific committee on the North African country’s Covid-19 outbreak. 

“We haven’t noted any undesirable reactions,” he said.

Bekkat, who is also head of the Order of Algerian Doctors, said the country had not registered any deaths caused by hydroxychloroquine.

“For confirmed cases, we use hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. Then there is a whole protocol for serious cases,” a health ministry official said on Monday.

Bekkat’s comments came days after medical journal The Lancet published a study of nearly 100,000 coronavirus patients, showing no benefit in those treated with the drug, which is normally used against arthritis.

The study found that administering the medicine or, separately, the related anti-malarial chloroquine, actually increased Covid-19 patients’ risk of dying.

The World Health Organization said on Monday it had temporarily suspended clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for coronavirus, following the Lancet study.

Bekkat argued that the Lancet study had led to “confusion” as it “seems to concern serious cases in which hydroxychloroquine is of no help”.

“There is evidence that the use of chloroquine by some Arab and African countries has proven to be effective when used early,” he explained.  

Public figures including US President Donald Trump have backed the drug as a virus treatment, prompting governments to bulk buy — despite several studies showing it to be ineffective and even increasing COVID-19 hospital deaths.

Algeria’s coronavirus outbreak is one of the worst in Africa, with a total of 8,503 cases and 609 deaths officially recorded since February 25.

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Schools reopen in Côte d’Ivoire amidst Covid-19 protective measures

“We also have an imperative duty to ensure that the children entrusted to us can complete their education,” Assoumou Kabran, an education ministry official said.

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Children wear face masks in a classroom at a primary school in the popular district of Attecoube in Abidjan on May 25, 2020 on the first day day after resumption of classes after COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown. (Photo by ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP)

Schools have reopened in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire after the country lifted an almost two-month curfew in its fight against the coronavirus epidemic . Nightclubs, cinemas and bars will remain closed.

Thousands of children in face masks flocked back to school on Monday, and authorities are confident that pupils can study together in safety after the introduction of extra hygiene measures.

“At first we were a little scared. When we saw that the protective measures were being respected, the fear went away,” said 14-year-old Samira Cisse.

With a total of 2,376 cases and dozens of new infections each day, Côte d’Ivoire has yet to contain the virus.

But In Abidjan’s Adjame neighbourhood, children in backpacks queued to wash their hands under a teacher’s watchful eye before entering their school, where they sat just one to a desk with bottles of sanitising gel within reach.

“We also have an imperative duty to ensure that the children entrusted to us can complete their education,” Assoumou Kabran, an education ministry official said.

Reopening classrooms also means thousands of pupils and their teachers must be ferried back to boarding schools outside Abidjan, epicentre of the epidemic.

French teacher Patrick Yobouet, 38, waited with hundreds of others in a sun-baked stadium to board buses out of the city.

“We’re a bit worried as we leave, because we don’t know if we have the coronavirus or not or if the children are contaminated or not,” he said.

Nearby countries are likely to follow closely if Côte d’Ivoire’s decision to reopen schools does not cause a spike in infection. With millions of children still at home, aid agency Save the Children says many could face serious setbacks due to limited options for distance learning in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.

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South Africa to ease lockdown to tier 3 by June 1

President Ramaphosa also said a controversial ban on the sale of alcohol would be lifted for home consumption when the country moves into level three of a five-tier coronavirus lockdown next month.

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced plans by the government to further ease lockdown restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.

In a televised address on Sunday, Ramaphosa noted the harm the disease has caused in the country, but said the indefinite time it may take to develop a vaccine means the country cannot continue being in a lockdown.

He said a controversial ban on the sale of alcohol would be lifted for home consumption when the country moves into level three of a five-tier coronavirus lockdown next month.

South Africans were prohibited from buying alcohol and cigarettes when the country went into one of the world’s strictest lockdowns on March 27.

The booze ban was meant to prevent a spike in violence and reduce pressure on emergency wards as hospitals gear up to face a virus that has infected at least 22,583 people across the country and killed 429.

“Alcohol will be sold for home consumption only under strict conditions on specified days and for limited hours,” Ramaphosa announced in an address to the nation.

“The sale of tobacco products will remain prohibited in alert level 3 due to the health risks associated with smoking,” he added.

South Africa started gradually easing confinement measures on May 1, allowing citizens to exercise outdoors in the morning and some businesses to partially resume operations.

Ramaphosa said the alert level would now be lowered from level four to three from June 1, with a “differentiated approach” to deal with “coronavirus hotspots”.

“Moving to alert level three marks a significant shift in our approach to the pandemic. This will result in the opening up of the economy and the removal of a number of restrictions on the movement of people, while significantly expanding and intensifying our public health interventions,” the president said.

The easing of the lockdown from a level four to a level three will take effect from June 1.
South Africa is the worst affected country by the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa.

President Ramaphosa also called for a fair distribution of any vaccine upon development.
“We have argued that should a vaccine be developed anywhere in the world it should be made freely and equitably available to citizens of all countries,” he said.

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