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South Africa Imposes New Restrictions as WHO Warns of Worse Pandemics

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a ban on the sale of alcohol and said face masks will be compulsory in public after the country became the first African nation to record one million cases.

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The sale of alcohol has been banned and the wearing of masks in public made mandatory in South Africa from Tuesday after a surge in coronavirus cases. This follows the World Health Organisation (WHO) warning that pandemics far more deadly than Covid-19 may lie ahead.

Though the rollout of vaccines gathers pace in North America and Europe, the global caseload of COVID-19 is close to 81 million.

On Monday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a ban on the sale of alcohol and said face masks will be compulsory in public after the country became the first African nation to record one million cases.

“We have let down our guard, and unfortunately we are now paying the price,” Ramaphosa said, blaming “super-spreader” social events and an “extreme lack of vigilance over the holiday period” for the spike.

The President said data showed “excessive alcohol consumption” leads to an increase in trauma cases reported at hospitals, causing an “unnecessary” strain on public health facilities.

With the help of science and technology, huge progress has been made to study the virus and develop vaccines at record speed. But WHO senior advisor Bruce Aylward has cautioned that the world was far from ready for the next pandemic.

“We are into the second and third waves of this virus and we are still not prepared to deal with and manage those,” he said.

“While we are better prepared… we are not fully prepared for this one, let alone the next one.”

As of today, South Africa has recorded more than 21,000 COVID-19 related deaths.

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Death Toll of Pigs Killed By Swine Fever in Tanzania Now 1,155

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Tanzania’s Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries says the number of pigs killed by the African swine fever in northern Tanzania has risen from 500 to 1,155, an official said on Wednesday.

Hezron Nonga, the Director of Veterinary Services in the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, told Xinhua in a telephone interview that out of the 1,155 killed pigs, 909 were in Kahama district, 56 in Geita district, 38 in Mbogwe district, 147 in Sengerema district, four in Kyerwa district and one in Misungwi district.

Nonga visited Kahama district to provide support to a team of experts formed by the government to contain the spread of the deadly disease that broke out in Kahama district in late December 2020.

Mashimba Ndaki, the Minister for Livestock and Fisheries, last week directed regional and district commissioners to control the transportation of pigs to curb the spread of the disease.

In March 2018, more than 900 pigs were killed by the African swine fever in Tanzania’s southern region of Ruvuma

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MTN Donates $25M to the African Union

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Telecommunication giant, MTN, has announced a donation of $25million to support the African Union COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Ralph Mupita, President and Chief Executive Officer of MTN Group, on Wednesday in Johannesburg, said that the donation will help secure up to seven million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for health workers across the continent.

This he said will contribute to the vaccination initiative of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

“The devastating impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented and profound, therefore, Public and private partnerships are needed if we are to succeed in the fight against the pandemic.

“The sole objective is to restore social and economic norms for our continent and our communities and most importantly the determination to bring lasting solutions to the disease,

“On Jan. 14, President Cyril Ramaphosa, Chairperson of the African Union, announced that the African Union had secured a provisional 270 million COVID-19 vaccine doses on behalf of its Member States.

“Through advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to US$2 billion to the manufacturers by the African Export-Import Bank.

“This was an important milestone in efforts to ensure equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine for Africa’s people,’’ Mupita said.

He added that with a population of about 1.3 billion, Africa requires many more doses to achieve at least 60 per cent herd immunity.

Contributions by private organisations, like MTN, are therefore essential to help the continent reach its target.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, MTN has made significant contributions to help limit the spread of the disease and save lives and livelihoods within its African market.

This donation is another example of MTN’s efforts to help find lasting solutions to solve the challenges facing the continent and to guarantee a healthy Africa, for all Africans.

“We believe ongoing collaborations with key stakeholders across sectors are essential as vaccines are deployed in all our markets, with communication tools, technology and digital services being vital support infrastructure.

“Therefore, for a successful mass vaccination programme. in the coming months, MTN Group will look at similar support commitments for the markets in which we operate in the Middle East.”Mupita said.

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Nigeria Confirms 15 Additional COVID-19 Deaths

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed 15 additional deaths from COVID-19 complications, bringing the total number of death toll in the country to 1,522.

The NCDC disclosed this on its website.

The centre also said that 1,303 new cases of COVID-19 was recorded, bringing the total number of infection in the country to 124,299.

The new infections were reported in 24 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

The centre said Lagos, FCT and Nasarawa recorded the highest number of COVID-19 infections on Monday, with 478 , 211 and 83 cases respectively.

Others state with new infections are Rivers-72, Kwara-42, Edo-36, Ondo-34, Benue-32, Kaduna-32, Katsina-26, Plateau-26, Kano-25, Taraba-25, Osun-22, Delta-21, Oyo-21, Niger-19, Sokoto-18, Ebonyi-17, Ekiti-14, Gombe-13, Ogun-12, Bauchi-11, Zamfara-eight, Borno-four and Jigawa-one.

The 1,270,523 people have been tested since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was recorded on Feb. 27, 2020.

The agency also announced that 917 patients have been discharged from isolation centres across the country after testing negative to the virus , raising the total number of patients discharged to 99,276.

It added that the discharged included 542 community recoveries in Lagos State, 103 in Plateau and 22 in Kwara, managed in line with NCDC guidelines.

The NCDC noted that a multi-sectoral national Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) activated at Level III, is coordinating response activities nationwide.

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