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‘Stop attacks on Covid-19 response teams’, DR Congo warns citizens2 minutes read

The government also denied any manipulation of its figures for coronavirus cases and deaths.

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A Congolese health official checking the temperature of a kid. The vast central African country reported its first Covid-19 case on March 10./AFP

The Democratic Republic of Congo has condemned and warned citizens over attacks on coronavirus prevention and response teams in Kinshasa, urging the minister of justice “to act rigorously against the perpetrators of these acts”.

The Council of Ministers took the decision at the weekend following an increase in attacks on health workers and other government officials on field assignments to respond to Covid-19 cases and sensitize citizens on personal hygiene.

The government also denied any manipulation of its figures for coronavirus cases and deaths.

The controversy came as health officials announced DR Congo’s latest COVID-19 figures which stand at 63 deaths from 2,025 cases, most of them in the capital, Kinshasa. So far, 312 people have recovered since the country reported its first case on March 10.

Late on Friday, the government reported that a doctor and a hospital administrator had been arrested and later released over allegations of false declaration of coronavirus cases. 

A government news bulletin stated that the arrests were made following “the controversy over a patient who died this month”. 

The country’s Council of Ministers met on Friday after President Felix Tshisekedi asked the health minister to investigate rumours of fake patient deaths linked to the virus. 

“A negative media campaign is being waged against our country by some foreign media, with the aim of tarnishing its image in connection with the management of COVID-19,” the Council of Ministers said in the minutes of the meeting. 

Meanwhile, Parliament voted on Friday to extend the state of emergency order by 15 days for the third time. 

A team of Chinese medical experts who arrived Kinshasa earlier this month found no evidence that the number of virus cases or deaths were distorted, Jean-Jacques Muyembe, DR Congo’s coronavirus front man, told a news conference on Friday. 

“Cases are less severe here than in Europe or the United States. We have a younger population that is more resistant to infection,” Muyembe said. 

Zhu Jing, the Chinese ambassador to DR Congo, said the team of Chinese doctors did not find any “fake patients”. 

“The hospitalised patients are indeed suffering from the pandemic,” he said. 

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Bitter sweets: Madagascar minister fired over candy plan

Minister Rijasoa Andriamanana said last week she was ordering $2.2 million worth of sweets to go with the Covid-Organics concoction, which some experts have warned is useless against COVID-19.

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President Andry Rajoelina of Madagascar.

Madagascar’s education minister was sacked Thursday after announcing a plan to buy sweets for students to take the edge off the “bitter taste” of a herbal tea the president says is a coronavirus remedy.

Minister Rijasoa Andriamanana said last week she was ordering $2.2 million worth of sweets to go with the Covid-Organics concoction, which some experts have warned is useless against COVID-19.

She told the press that “a purchase of sweets and lollipops” had been made, with all students in the Indian Ocean island nation to receive three each.

She added that it was for the “bitter taste” of the drink, which President Andry Rajoelina has been promoting for export, saying it is the country’s “green gold” which will “change history”.

The potential benefits of Covid-Organics, have not been validated by any scientific study. 

That such expense was going to sweets in one of the world’s poorest country’s sparked outrage, fanned by the Malagasy press, and the order was cancelled.

The minister defended the plan, but it was not considered by the cabinet, which relieved her of her duties in a dry statement.

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Equatorial Guinea accuses WHO of inflating Covid-19 tally, sacks country representative

“We don’t have a problem with the WHO, we have a problem with the WHO’s representative in Malabo,” Prime Minister Pascual Obama Asue said in remarks broadcast on state television.

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World Health Organization signpost.

Equatorial Guinea has joined its Burundian counterpart in sacking the representative of the World Health Organization, accusing her of “falsifying” the country’s tally of coronavirus cases, a government statement said.

In a document dated May 26, the foreign ministry asked the World Health Organization’s regional office in Africa “to end the duties” of its representative in Equatorial Guinea, Dr. Triphonie Nkurunziza, “and immediately oversee her departure from Malabo.”

Prime Minister Pascual Obama Asue while appearing at the Senate last week had accused Nkurunziza of “falsifying the data of people contaminated” by COVID-19, AN AFP report said.

“We don’t have a problem with the WHO, we have a problem with the WHO’s representative in Malabo,” he said in remarks broadcast on state television.

A source at the UN office in Malabo, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the government’s request but declined to go into details.

“The government has asked her to go, we have received a document — she is accused of falsifying COVID-19 figures,” the source said.

However, Dr. Nkurunziza is still in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea’s island capital, as there are no flights enabling her to leave, the source said.

The authorities say that as of June 1, there were 1,306 recorded cases of coronavirus, 12 of them fatalities, in a population of 1.3 million

Meanwhile, Burundi in mid-May 2020 sacked the World Health Organization’s top official in the country just days before the May 22 presidential election and after the WHO raised concerns about crowded political rallies. 

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Senegalese protesters arrested for kicking against Covid-19 curfew

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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