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CORONA VIRUS

EU, Rwanda Discuss Actions Against COVID-19, Recovery

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Europe is engaging Africa on prospects of combating the COVID-19 pandemic that is ravaging the world as scientists struggle to find solutions to secure lives from the wrath inflicted by the virus.

The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, who is in Rwanda on an official visit, met with Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame, and held discussions on various topics including the pandemic.

Michel said on Sunday evening that he had discussed with President Kagame on “broad range of bilateral, regional and global topics…”

Specifically, he said, that discussions focused on concrete action to fight the pandemic and prepare post-COVID-19 recovery.

President Kagame appreciated the EU’s commitment to strengthening Africa-Europe ties, including with the private sector. “We look forward to collaborating on equitable access to vaccines and improved management of current and future pandemics,” he said.

Michel met Kagame together with EU Member of Parliament, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou alongside Secretary General of the La Francophonie, Louise Mushikiwabo. “Thank you for your work to support multilateral cooperation in the fight against COVID-19,” Kagame expressed gratitude later in the evening.

Earlier in the day, Michel had travelled to the countryside, in Mayange Health Centre, to witness the inoculation of first anti-COVID-19 vaccines distributed by COVAX, a global initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines led by GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and others.

EU is one of the main contributors to this international solidarity initiative, Germany being the major contributor, with the plan to deliver close to 2 billion doses of COVID 19 vaccines globally in 2021 including at least 1.3 billion to the 92 economies eligible for support through the COVAX Advanced Market Commitment (AMC).

On Wednesday March 4, Rwanda received about 340,000 shots of vaccines from COVAX, (240,000 of the AstraZeneca/Oxford and 102,000 of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA).

Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, a medical doctor, had the opportunity to join Mayange Health Centre staff in administering vaccines, before addressing residents. Rwandan health workers and other priority populations vulnerable to COVID-19 have received the life-saving coronavirus vaccines since Friday.

By Sunday evening about 160,000 Rwandans had been vaccinated under a meticulous exercise.

By Sunday, March 7, Rwanda had recorded 19,551 infections at least 268 deaths, 1443 active cases, 17,840 recoveries and 198,453 vaccinations administered.

“Nobody will be safe until everybody is,” Michel said after the tour.

Meanwhile, GAVI CEO, Seth Berkley, also commended Rwanda for setting an important example by “having a clear vaccination strategy that prioritizes those most at-risk and vulnerable. “Great to see that work begin!” he said on Sunday afternoon.

CORONA VIRUS

WHO Supports Tanzania’s About-turn On Covid-19

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Tanzanian leadership’s about-turn on the coronavirus received support from the World Health Organization and Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which could help the country obtain vaccines and start to catch-up with other nations on the continent.

The east African country’s new president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, announced plans earlier this week to appoint a panel of experts to advise her on how best to curb the spread of the virus.

The move is a complete shift from her predecessor’s stance, which was to initially deny the existence of the disease and stop the publication of Covid-19 infection data just months after the pandemic broke out.

The response to the virus by President John Magufuli, who died last month, raised concerns that not only was the local severity of the disease being downplayed, but that there was increased risk of the spread of significant variants that could affect vaccine efficacy across the continent.

“We welcome very sincerely this initiative by the new president of Tanzania, as well as the statements she’s made to the population to ensure people accept the virus is circulating in Tanzania and that she is seeking to understand better the situation,” WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said in a briefing Thursday.

The WHO has been in talks with Tanzania and offered expertise and discussed ways to access Covid-19 vaccines, she said.

In a separate online briefing, Africa CDC Director John Nkengasong said he’s “extremely encouraged with the signals” from Tanzania and that the body has offered clinical assistance.

“They have not officially requested anything from us, but we look forward to engaging with them further as they move forward with this task force,” he said.

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CORONA VIRUS

Professor Niyongabo Warns of Covid-19 Second Wave in Burundi

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For most part of 2020, Burundi government had chosen to ignore existence of covid-19 pandemic and only confided in God as the only shield against the fast spreading virus across the world.

As of Friday, Burundi has officially reported 3,027Total cases, 773 Recovered, and 6 Deaths.

In an exclusive interview with  Burundian Professor Théodore Niyongabo, he opens up slightly on Covid-19 situation in East Africa’s most isolated country and hints that “The vaccine is the only way to control Covid-19”.

Professor Théodore Niyongabo is a specialist in internal medicine and infectious diseases. He looks back on all the current questions related to the pandemic. Here are some excerpts as adapted from local outlet Iwacu.

Faced with the surge of positive cases, can we speak of a second wave in Burundi?

Given the number of cases tested positive for covid-19 on a daily basis, those hospitalized. It is obvious that this is a second wave of contamination.

What do you think is the cause?

Hard to say ! Because the determinants of a wave vary from country to country. Are we in the presence of a new variant, has there been a relaxation somewhere in the population with regard to barrier gestures … The hypotheses are legion.

Once cured, can we be recontaminated? Can we be recontaminated a week after healing?

No, I do not think so. From experience, recontamination is often late. In this regard, the figures are clear.

So far, during the month of February, we have recorded less than 10 cases. Usually, recontamination will take place a year or more later. Granted, this is not yet fully verified, but the facts are there.

If not, can a mother continue to breastfeed her child once she has Covid-19?

Absolutely. In fact, this is what we recommend to them. She should continue to breastfeed. Because breast milk does not transmit Covid-19. But, if the mom has tested positive for the disease, she should wear a mask.

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CORONA VIRUS

Mozambique Announces 21-day Lockdown

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President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique has announced a 21-day lockdown effective Tuesday April,6 as part of measures aimed at preventing the further spread of Covid-19 pandemic.

“As of 00:00 am tomorrow, all provincial capitals will be in curfew, between 10:00 pm and 4:00 am,” President Nyusi said on Monday.

The President said he is hopeful that in the next communication he will announce relief related to preventive measures. His Government hopes to prevent the dramatic situation faced in January and February from repeating itself in the country.

According to President Nyusi, Mozambique continues to have an epidemiological picture of risk.

So far as of Tuesday Mozambique has Total cases 68,227, Recovered 57,234,and Deaths 782. Mozambique completed, on March 22, one year since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Due to restrictions, Mozambique has seen a reduction in the number of cases and deaths. The reduction, said the President, has been progressive, but at a slow pace. The gains that are being made are the result of the collective effort and sacrifice of Mozambicans.

According to Filipe Nyusi, the second wave of the pandemic was more intense than the first, with five times more cases, six times more hospitalizations and seven times more deaths.

The causes are attributed to the new variant. In other words, although the number of cases is decreasing, the current situation is more serious than the second wave.

To give you an idea, Mozambique has 10 times more cases than in the last week of December. The number of deaths doubled in relation to the end of December.

Nyusi recalled that the interruption of classes has a negative impact on children and adolescents.

For this reason, the Government decided to restart classes on March 22, considering that children and adolescents are at lower risk of infection, according to scientific studies.

Even so, Nyusi called for increased attention from supervisors, staff and all school stakeholders.

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