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Senegalese protesters arrested for kicking against Covid-19 curfew3 minutes read

There were 74 arrests of the protesters– 29 in Touba, 38 in Mbacke, five in Tambacounda and two in Diourbel — Local media reported.

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President Macky Sall of Senegal

The police in Senegal have arrested more than 70 people for protesting against nighttime coronavirus curfew by the authorities in several cities across the West African country.

The protests over the 9pm and 5am curfew started on Tuesday and continued into the night, their severity prompting an appeal for calm by a major Muslim leader.

In Touba, a religious hub 200 kilometres (120 miles) east of the capital Dakar, three police vehicles and an ambulance were set ablaze, a senior official said on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A coronavirus treatment centre there was attacked and the windows of the offices of electricity provider Senelec were smashed, the source said.

Witnesses added that post office buildings in Touba — the seat of the politically powerful Sufi Muslim order called the Mouride Brotherhood — were attacked, an AFP report said.

In the neighbouring town of Mbacke, protesters damaged the local headquarters of radio station RFM, which is owned by singer and former minister Youssou N’Dour, according to the local journalists’ association 3CM.

The group said in a statement that it “firmly condemns these acts of vandalism” and “calls on the authorities to ensure the safety of the media during this period of riots”.

In a separate statement, the Council of Broadcasters and Press Publishers of Senegal (CDEPS) said “those responsible for this rampage must be tracked down and brought to justice”. 

Protestors also erected barricades and burned tyres in Mbacke, other witnesses said.

The Senegalese media added demonstrations also occurred in Tambacounda, in the east of the country, and Diourbel, in the west.

There were 74 arrests — 29 in Touba, 38 in Mbacke, five in Tambacounda and two in Diourbel — a source close to the case said on Wednesday.

– ‘Go home’ -The caliph, or leader, of the Mouride Brotherhood, Serigne Mountakha Mbacke, made a rare late-night TV appearance to call for an end to the protests in Touba, Senegal’s second-largest city with a population of around a million people.

“Go home. Tomorrow we will look at the source of the problems and how to address them. I don’t think we have ever seen this in Touba,” he said.

The curfew, imposed by President Macky Sall on March 23, bans movement between 9pm and 5am.

It is being implemented in tandem with a ban on travel between Senegal’s regions.

The measures have been extended until the end of June, although Sall eased other restrictions on May 11, allowing places of worship and markets to reopen.

High schools in the West African state had been due to reopen on Tuesday, but this step was delayed at the last minute after 10 teachers in the southern region of Casamance tested positive for COVID-19.

The country has recorded nearly 4,000 cases of coronavirus, 45 of them fatalities.

The figures are low compared to countries in Europe and the United States, although experts caution that, as elsewhere in Africa, Senegal is vulnerable to the pandemic because of its weak health system.

Demands for an easing of restrictions have mounted in the face of the plight of many Senegalese who depend on menial day-by-day jobs.

Around 40 percent of the population live below the threshold of poverty, according to a World Bank benchmark.

The government is expected to announce in the coming days whether it will ease some of the emergency curbs.

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U.S Seeks to Conduct and Fund Survey on Extent of COVID-19 Infections in Nigeria

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The United States and Nigeria’s Centre for Disease Control – NCDC – are to conduct a household survey to determine the extent of coronavirus infections in Nigeria.

People in three states – Gombe, Enugu, and Nasarawa – will be asked to voluntarily volunteer in the research which will include antibody blood tests to find out who has had the virus.

The exercise aims to help health professionals understand the transmission patterns and to find out how many people with the virus are asymptomatic.

The survey is supported by the United States, through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S is the sole sponsor of this survey, estimated at $2.1m. It will provide technical assistance as well.

The survey will increase the current understanding of COVID-19 transmission and burden in these three states and inform COVID-19 response efforts of the Government of Nigeria and its partners.

A statement on the US Nigeria embassy website, discloses that, “the survey will estimate the proportion of the population in these states who have ever been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19 disease. This will be done by measuring the presence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in the blood of volunteers. These antibodies, specialized proteins produced by the immune system to fight infections, are generated as part of the body’s response to COVID-19 and are an indication of previous infections.

“The survey will also endeavour to estimate the proportion of people who have the disease but are not showing any symptoms, determine risk factors for infection, and measure the intra-household transmission of COVID-19. The survey will also estimate the prevalence of malaria and its potential relationship to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

“All members of selected households will be offered the opportunity to participate in the survey. If they agree, participants will answer a brief questionnaire, have their blood drawn and tested for the presence of COVID-19 antibodies, and receive a nasal and oropharyngeal swab to test for acute COVID-19. They will also have a rapid malaria test and receive malaria treatment if the test is positive.

The tests will be carried out at the National Reference Laboratory in Gaduwa, Abuja.

“The U.S. CDC is working with the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), one of its implementing partners in Nigeria, to provide technical assistance and oversee field implementation of the survey. The survey will be conducted between September and November with preliminary results expected to be released in December 2020.”

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Africa Records 1.18 Million COVID-19 Recoveries, 35,007 Deaths

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The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over 1.18 million coronavirus (COVID-19) patients have recovered from the disease.

The Centre adds that the death toll from the virus has reached 35,007 and more than 1.43 million people have so far contracted the virus, with the Southern Africa region being the most affected with 727,500 cases. North Africa recorded 314,100 cases, West Africa 173,900, East Africa 164,200 and Central Africa 57,400.

At least 640,500 patients have recovered in Southern Africa, 246,900 in North Africa, 154,500 in West Africa, 92,700 in East Africa and 50,000 in Central Africa.

COVID-19 transmission in Africa has been marked by relatively fewer infections, which have been on the decline over the past two months, owing to a variety of socio-ecological factors as well as early and strong public health measures taken by governments across the region, the World Health Organization (WHO) Africa office stated on Thursday.

“Africa has not witnessed an exponential spread of COVID-19 as many initially feared,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO director for Africa, “but the slower spread of infection in the region means we expect the pandemic to continue to smoulder for some time, with occasional flare-ups.”

“The downward trend that we have seen in Africa over the past two months is undoubtedly a positive development and speaks to the robust and decisive public health measures taken by governments across the region.

Dr Moeti advises that we must not become complacent since other regions of the world have experienced similar trends only to find that as social and public health measures are relaxed, cases start ramping up again.

The pandemic has recently been in a younger age group and has been more pronounced in Western and European countries, suggesting country-specific aspects are driving the pattern of disease and death.

About 91% of COVID-19 infection in sub-Saharan Africa are among people below 60 years, and over 80% of cases are asymptomatic, according to WHO.

WHO says a mix of socio-ecological factors such as low population density and mobility, hot and humid climate are likely contributing to the low cases seen in Africa when compared to the horrendous numbers recorded in the West and across Europe.

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Nigeria Records 125 New Cases, Zero Death

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control – NCDC – says no death was recorded in the last 24-hours, as the country recorded 125 new cases of COVID-19.

The NCDC made this known on its official twitter handle on Thursday.

According to the agency, 125 new cases were confirmed around the country, bringing the total number of infections to 57, 849.

The agency said that the new infection were reported in 13 states of the federation.

It also announced the discharge of 113 patients from isolation centres across the country, bringing the total number of persons discharged to 49,098 persons have so far been discharged.

The NCDC stated that Lagos State recorded the highest number of cases with 37, followed by Plateau with 18 cases , the Federal Capital Territory recorded 17 cases and Ogun State recorded 15 each.

Others are Rivers-10 Benue-seven, Kaduna-seven; Anambra-five; Oyo-three; Cross River-two; Ondo-two; Edo-one and Imo-one.

The centre also said 1,102 deaths were recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

A multi-sectoral national Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), activated at Level III, has continued to coordinate national response activities across the country.

Meanwhile, the NCDC in a Public Health Advisory on COVID-19, continues to gives new information and measures to curb the spread of the pandemic in the country.

“Travel advice, advice for health workers, advice for businesses and how to protect yourself can be found on the agency’s website.

The public health agency said that COVID-19 is still circulating widely and Nigerians must remain vigilant.

According to the NCDC “If everyone would adopt three simple steps … wear a mask, maintain social distance, frequently wash hands / or sanitise hands after contact, it would go a long way to decrease the cause of death from the virus”

Globally, over 32 million people have been infected and about 986,140 deaths recorded.

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