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CORONA VIRUS

Rwanda Uses Trained Dogs To Detect Covid-19 Patients

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Passengers arriving at Kigali International Airport in Rwanda can now be tested for COVID-19 without inserting swabs into their nose or throat to collect lab samples and wait for minutes to receive results.

Instead, the airport is using trained sniffer dogs to detect Covid-19 by smelling sweat samples taken from passengers with just cotton patches. The collected samples are then taken to the sniffing cabin set up in a separate area.

With an accuracy close to that of a PCR test in about one minute, a dog quickly detects which of the samples in the cabins has COVID-19.

This initiative was launched on Friday June 4, at Kigali International Airport as a three-month pilot with five dogs acquired from Police Dogs Centre Holland B.V, which supplies working dogs and related services to police, customs and security companies all over the world.

Rwanda says sniffer dogs will reduce the time and cost of testing at the Kigali International Airport. The Rwanda Biomedical Center says it has plan to scale up the use of sniffer dogs at mass gatherings based on the outcomes of this pilot phase, a partnership between Rwanda and Germany.

Germany supplied the Detection Dog Training System from Kynoscience, a German firm that also trained the dog handlers from the Canine Brigade of the Rwanda National Police.

It is believed that dogs can distinguish between more than a million different smells, they can detect even the finest traces of scent, and just a few molecules are enough for them to smell a substance.

In July 2020, researchers from Germany trained army sniffer dogs to distinguish between samples of fluids from patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 and healthy donors.

In this particular study, the researchers under the leadership of Dr. Esther Schalke, a vet at Germany’s armed forces school for service dogs and Prof. Holger Volk, Department Chair for Small Animal Diseases of Hanover’s University of Veterinary Medicine trained eight Bundeswehr (German Army) detection dogs over the period of a week to detect the saliva and secretions from the lungs and windpipe of patients who had been infected with SARS-CoV-2.

The 1st Secretary of the Germany Embassy in Rwanda, Renate Charlotte Lehner, said that Rwanda reach out to Germany to try the dogs in the effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus and create a solid foundation for future studies to investigate what the dogs smell and whether they can also be used to differentiate between different times of illness or clinical phenotypes.

The dog expert, Hans Ebbers, who is also CEO of Kynoscience, says there is no special breed but certain dogs are more talented.

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CORONA VIRUS

Facebook Now Allows ‘Covid-19 is man-made’ Posts

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Facebook has been blocking posts claiming that Covid-19 is man-made.

Facebook, a social network says its new policy comes “in light of ongoing investigations into the origin”.

In February, Facebook explicitly banned the claim, as part of a broad policy update aimed at “removing more false claims about Covid-19 and vaccines”.

In a public statement at the time, it said: “Following consultations with leading health organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), we are expanding the list of false claims we will remove to include additional debunked claims about the coronavirus and vaccines.”

For those that have been posting claims that Covid-19 was “man-made or manufactured” could have seen their posts removed or restricted, and repeatedly sharing the allegation could have led to a ban from the site entirely.

However, on Wednesday, Facebook said; “In light of ongoing investigations into the origin of Covid-19 and in consultation with public health experts, we will no longer remove the claim that Covid-19 is man-made from our apps.”

It added that, “We’re continuing to work with health experts to keep pace with the evolving nature of the pandemic and regularly update our policies as new facts and trends emerge.”

The change follows a Wall Street Journal report that US intelligence sources believe there is some evidence to warrant further investigation of the “lab leak” theory.

According to the newspaper, three staff members at the Wuhan Institute for Virology sought hospital treatment for flu-like symptoms in November 2019.

Others have criticised the reporting, noting that it still relies on circumstantial evidence and speculation.

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CORONA VIRUS

Africa To Begin Manufacturing Covid-19 Vaccines

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Africa will begin manufacturing its own covid-19 vaccines, the Africa-France Heads of States Summit on Africa Financing has agreed.

Africa’s capacity to manufacture these vaccines will first require sharing intellectual property and actively transferring technologies and know-how consistent with international legal frameworks – such as through entering into license pooling and manufacturing agreements to enable local production.

DRC President Félix Tshisekedi the current chairperson of AU said that there were some concerns about the use of vaccines made elsewhere.

“We must try to manufacture vaccines in Africa that would have a significant impact on the attitude of people. Economic consequences will also follow,” President Félix Tshisekedi told the Summit.

Leaders at the summit also expressed commitment to stand united and ensure equitable access in Africa to safe and affordable vaccines, treatments and diagnostics.

Official data show that more than 49 million vaccine doses have been delivered through Covax so far.

“We will strive to accelerate these efforts, to make sure more vaccines are allocated to Africa, including through doses-sharing, supporting advance market commitments and facilitating trade along the entire value chain,” reads the communique in part.

“We are committed to building the local capacities needed to distribute vaccines. We also need, in partnership with the private sector, to speed up vaccine production, by developing manufacturing capacities in Africa.”

In another development, French President Emmanuel Macron said the Summit in Paris agreed to work towards persuading rich nations to reallocate $100 billion in International Monetary Fund (IMF) special drawing rights (SDRs) monetary reserves to African states by October this year.

World finance chiefs agreed in April to boost SDRs by U$650 billion and extend a debt-servicing freeze to help developing countries deal with the pandemic, although only U$34 billion was to be allocated to Africa.

President Macron said France had decided to redirect its SDRs and that there had been an accord to try to get rich nations by October to reallocate U$100 billion to Africa.

“Our work in the next few weeks will be to make the same rate of effort as France, starting with the United States of America, and I know all the work that we will have to do with Congress and the executive, but I am confident,” he told media.

“The African economies which have been hit by the Covid-19 must not be left behind in the post-pandemic economic recovery.

“A substantial financial package is needed to provide much-needed economic stimulus, African and European leaders concluded at a summit in Paris,” President Macron told the summit.”

The summit was part of Macron’s efforts to recast France’s engagement in Africa.

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CORONA VIRUS

COVID-19: Over 150 Arrested In Prohibited Parties

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Rwanda National Police (RNP) in collaboration with local leaders arrested 153 people over the weekend after they were found holding separate parties in Rusizi and Nyanza districts.

Those arrested include 50 people, who were on Sunday, May 26, found holding a bridal shower in Kadashya Village, Ruganda Cell of Kamembe Sector in Rusizi District.

Police and local leaders found the group, all female, in the bridal shower party in the house of one Janvier Niyikiza located in Kadashya village.

“They were overcrowded in the living room, no face masks and drinking,” said Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Bonaventure Twizere Karekezi, the Police spokesperson for the Western region.

Other 30 violators were arrested the same day at Hotel du Lac located in Mururu Sector, also in Rusizi District where they were found drinking and playing Pool game

CIP Karekezi thanked residents, who reported the violations and facilitated the enforcement of the directives.

The motel has since been closed and all the violators subjected to Covid-19 test at their cost as well as related administrative fines.

Meanwhile, in Nyanza District, Police arrested a group of 73 people who attending a traditional marriage at Kingdom Village motel located in Mukoni Village, Kavumu Cell, Busasamana Sector.

Superintendent of Police (SP) Theobald Kanamugire, the Police spokesperson for the Southern region, said the group was caught on Saturday, May 15, at about 11am.

“Police received information that morning about a traditional marriage ceremony that was underway at Kingdom Village motel, owned by one Emmanuel Rekeraho.

Police and local leaders went to the motel where 73 people were arrested, including the bride and the groom, although Rekeraho, the owner of the motel, managed to flee,” said SP Kanamugire.

Celestin Fodi, the master of ceremony at Gusaba event, argued that they were trying to “follow and respect the tradition.”

Violators were also subjected to Covid-19 test at their cost as well as administrative fines. Kingdom Village motel was also closed.

Traditional marriage and bridal shower are among the prohibited gatherings under the national directives to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

SP Kanamugire warned against such errant and risky behaviours and thanked members of the public, who are playing a role in the enforcement of the directives and facilitating government efforts against the pandemic.

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