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CORONA VIRUS

S.Sudan Central Bank Cuts Lending Rate To Deal With #COVID-19 pandemic

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The Central Bank of South Sudan on Tuesday reduced the benchmark lending rate to 10 percent from 13 percent in an attempt to mitigate negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and low oil prices.

The reduction of the Central Bank Rate (CBR) is one of six economic reform measures announced by the apex bank. In April, the bank reduced the lending rate to 13 percent from 15 percent.

Central Bank Governor Gamal Wani Abdalla also reduced the reserve for lenders from 15 percent to 10 percent in a bid to release liquidity to commercial banks.

“The downward revision of the CBR to 10 percent is meant to reduce the overall cost of financing extended to the private sector by commercial banks,” Abdalla told journalists in Juba.

“Affordable loans will benefit business and South Sudanese alike at this time of crisis,” he said, noting that the measures are aimed at creating favorable conditions for swift economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Abdalla said the COVID-19 pandemic and fall in global oil prices will likely lead to negative economic growth in South Sudan in 2020.

The apex bank also called on lenders to restructure or renegotiate existing loans to protect businesses facing challenges caused by the COVID-19.

Abdalla said that the measures will also provide financial security and cushion business enterprises from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These measures are intended to provide greater security to secure the financial systems, cushion commercial banks by availing adequate liquidity, to protect business enterprises and members of the society,” he told journalists in Juba.

Abdalla said despite the challenges, South Sudan’s inflation dropped significantly from over 100 percent in April 2019 to around 37.2 percent in April 2020. 

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CORONA VIRUS

Italy Reopen Bars, Restaurants, Concert Halls

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Reports from Italy indicate that Bars, restaurants, cinemas and concert halls have partially reopened across Italy on Monday.

This major shift comes at a time the country has registered a total of 3.96M covid-19 cases since last year. Of these cases, 3.38M have recovered and 119000 deaths recorded.

The vaccination programme is gaining pace with more than 17.5 million jabs administered so far in a population of around 60 million, but there are disparities between regions.

Therefore in a boost for covid-19-hit businesses these bars and other crowding businesses have reopened, as parliament debates the government’s U$266 billion) EU-funded recovery plan.

After months of stop-start restrictions imposed to manage its second and third waves of COVID-19, Italy hopes this latest easing will mark the start of something like a normal summer.

Three-quarters of regions will drop into the low-risk “yellow” categories from Monday, with bars and restaurants permitted to restart table service outside – including, for the first time in six months, in the evening, although a 10pm curfew remains in place.

Cinemas and concert halls can also open at 50 per cent capacity, followed by the staggered opening of swimming pools, gyms, sporting events and theme parks by Jul 1.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi has been under intense pressure from regional governments and increasingly regular street protests to ease restrictions, as Italy battles its deepest recession since World War II.

Italy was the first European country to be hit by the pandemic in early 2020 and remains one of the worst affected, with the EU’s highest reported death toll and one of the deepest recessions.

The economy contracted by a staggering 8.9 per cent last year and a million jobs have been lost.

Italy is pinning its hopes on a €220 billion investment and reform plan funded largely by the EU. Italy is the biggest recipient of the bloc’s €750 billion post-pandemic recovery fund. In parliament today, Draghi is scheduled to formally present the programme he hopes will boost growth by 3.6% points by 2026, ahead of a Friday deadline to submit the package to Brussels.

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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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