Kenya’s President Kenyatta lifts coronavirus curfew

By Reuters

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. /VCG

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday lifted a nationwide curfew, which has been in place since March last year to curb the spread of the coronavirus, with immediate effect.

Speaking during the celebration of a national public holiday, Kenyatta said infections had fallen, with the daily positivity rate dropping below 5% in the past two weeks.

He also increased the number of people who can attend a religious service to two thirds of a congregation, from just a third previously.

Senegal logs zero new COVID-19 cases for first time since pandemic began

By Reuters

A health worker administers a dose of Janssen COVID-19 vaccine by Johnson & Johnson in the Medina neighborhood in Dakar, Senegal. /AP

Senegal recorded zero new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday for the first time since the pandemic began, the health ministry said.

The West African country had its worst wave of coronavirus in July when it was recording more than 1,000 new cases a day. The health ministry has registered 73,875 cases and 1,873 deaths since the outbreak began.

Sixteen patients are still under treatment, the ministry said.

Senegal has been seen as a positive example of a country managing COVID-19 well despite limited resources. The state began contact tracing and isolating cases early on. Mask mandates and curfews were enforced in the capital, Dakar.

The vaccination rate remains low, with 1.3 million doses administered to the roughly 17 million population.

Dakar’s bustling markets and beachside bars have long ago returned to pre-pandemic levels of activity. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 1 Travel Health Notice for Senegal, indicating the lowest level of COVID-19.

Namibian mobile service provider launches COVID-19 vaccination campaign

By XINHUA

Namibian mobile service provider, MTC in collaboration with the country’s health ministry on Tuesday launched a vaccination campaign dubbed, 081VAX campaign, aimed at encouraging people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The 12 million Namibian dollars (about 822,000 U.S. dollars) campaign will provide incentives for those that get vaccinated and interested and willing people can register through a digital mobile platform.

According to MTC’s Chief Commercial Officer, Melvin Angula, the digital platform will reduce the burden of queuing up or arriving at a venue to find that the desired vaccine is unavailable.

The campaign is set to commence on Thursday and will be rolled out across the country and will allow people to access information on the available vaccines and allow them to make a vaccination booking from wherever they are located.

Unvaccinated staff blocked from accessing Ugandan Ministry of Health premises

By CGTN Africa

A nurse draws a vaccine dose at a health center in Kampala, Uganda. /Getty Images

Authorities at the Ugandan Ministry of Health have blocked staff who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 from accessing the premises.

According to a notice by Director-General of Health Services, Dr. Henry Mwebesa, the position was reached in a special meeting with the aim of promoting vaccination as the country races to inoculate 21.9 million people to fully reopen the economy.

“During the COVID-19 strategic committee meeting, it was resolved that staff who are not fully vaccinated must not access the Ministry premises,” the notice reads in part. “Accordingly, all staff must get vaccinated and shall show results whenever coming to work.  This takes immediate effect.”

The move comes about six days after the National Medical Stores (NMS) announced that it had banned all staff and visitors who are not vaccinated from accessing their offices to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Although the unvaccinated staff at NMS and the Ministry of Health have not come out to complain, legal experts say the directive violates their right to access, specifically for visitors.

Dan Wandera Ogaloo, a constitutional lawyer told Daily Monitor last week that such directives [of barring unvaccinated people] would have been possible if it had been among the Ministry of Health standard operating procedures.

“Anyone can challenge them in court because the directive is not respecting the right to access public places and it is not constitutional. This would only work maybe if NMS had vaccinated all their staff and some had adamantly refused to comply. It shouldn’t apply to visitors,” he said.

Original article published by the Uganda Daily Monitor

Uganda receives second batch of COVID-19 vaccines donated by China

By XINHUA

A healthcare professional is vaccinated against COVID-19 in Kampala, Uganda. /Getty Images

Uganda on Tuesday received a second batch of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines donated by the Chinese government.

Margaret Muhanga, the minister of state for primary health care, received the vaccines at the National Medical Stores in Entebbe, 40 km south of the capital Kampala.

She hailed the donation as her country is scaling up its vaccination campaign to save lives and open up the economy.

“It is really an exciting day for us because we are receiving more doses of Sinovac, which will help us vaccinate a bigger population so that we can open our economy fully,” the minister said.

Zhang Lizhong, Chinese ambassador to Uganda, said the donation came at a time when the two countries marked the 59th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between them and is part of China’s commitment to build a global community of health for all.

In addition to donating 100 million U.S. dollars to the global COVID-19 vaccine program COVAX, China has pledged to donate 100 million additional vaccine doses to other developing countries this year.

Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, the World Health Organization (WHO) country representative to Uganda, also hailed the donation, saying, “Every dose coming to Africa saves life and if we save life and we vaccinate as many people as we can and ensure vaccine equity, we can defeat the pandemic.”

Uganda received the first batch of the Sinovac vaccines at the end of July this year.

As of Sunday, about 2.6 million doses have been administered in the country, according to figures from the ministry of health.

Since March last year, Uganda has reported a total of 125,283 COVID-19 cases with 96,397 recoveries and 3,187 deaths.

Tanzania releases 2.4 mln USD to support poor households affected by COVID-19

By XINHUA

FILE PHOTO: Tanzanian Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa is vaccinated against COVID-19 in Dodoma, Tanzania, Wednesday, July 28 2021. (Photo by Domasa Sylivester via CFP)

The government of Tanzania announced on Monday that it has released 5.5 billion Tanzanian shillings (about 2.4 million U.S. dollars) to support 40,740 poor households affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government has released the funds through the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF) to support the affected poor households, mostly in cities and urban areas.

The released funds are part of 567.25 million U.S. dollars approved recently by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to support the east African nation’s efforts in responding to the pandemic by addressing the urgent health, humanitarian and economic costs.

Ladislaus Mwamanga, TASAF director general, told a press conference in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam that the COVID-19 pandemic forced majority of poor households, especially in urban areas, to use all their savings, sold what they had, including cattle, goats and other poultry products which were the source of their income.

He said the funds will help support TASAF’s public works program in which the poor households will benefit by engaging in various projects within their areas and earn income.

“The households will also get direct grants in monthly payments which will be paid to them after every two months,” said Mwamanga.

South Africa rejects Russian Sputnik vaccine over HIV fears

By AFP

ANKARA, TURKEY – DECEMBER 24: In this photo illustration taken in Ankara, Turkey on December 24, 2020 Sputnik V, (Gam-COVID-Vac), COVID-19 vaccine logo is displayed on a screen with a syringe and a flacon in the front. (Photo by Hakan Nural/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

South Africa’s health products regulator on Monday said it would not approve Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine due to concerns it could increase the risk of HIV infection among men.

The decision was based on earlier studies testing the safety of a modified form of adenovirus, a type of virus that causes respiratory infections, known as the Ad5 and contained in the Russian jab.

“Use of the Sputnik V vaccine in South Africa, a setting of a high HIV prevalence and incidence, may increase the risk of vaccinated males acquiring HIV,” the South African Health Product Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) said in a statement.

It noted that the company behind the application for the use of Sputnik V in South Africa had no proof the formula would be safe “in settings of high HIV prevalence.”

“The rolling review of the Sputnik V vaccine will, however, remain open for submission of relevant safety data in support of the application,” it added.

Russia’s Gamaleya Center, which developed Sputnik V, said it would produce information to show that SAHPRA’s concerns were “completely unfounded.”

“Speculation regarding the association between adenovirus type-5 vectored vaccines and HIV transmission in high-risk groups has been based on small-scale studies,” it said in a statement.

The institute pointed to several clinical studies on over 7,000 participants that showed “there was no statistically significant increase of HIV-1 infection among adenovirus type-5 vectored vaccine recipients when all study participants and follow-up time were considered.”

South Africa, the country worst hit by the pandemic in Africa, also has the world’s highest number of people living with HIV.

It has been struggling with vaccine hesitancy.

Just over a quarter of 40 million targeted for vaccination by early 2022 are fully jabbed to date.

South Africa is this week set to begin vaccinating children as young as 12 and offering booster shots to certain immuno-compromised citizens.

It is currently offering the single-dose Johnson & Johnson — which also contains an adenovirus but of a different type — and the rMNA Pfizer/BioNTech jab.

Burundi starts COVID-19 jabs

By AP

Boxes of Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine at an event to mark the arrival of the first COVID-19 vaccines to the country, in Bujumbura, Burundi, Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021. /AP

One of the world’s last three countries to administer COVID-19 vaccines started giving out doses on Monday as the East African nation of Burundi launched its national campaign.

The vaccinations started in the commercial capital, Bujumbura, though health workers told The Associated Press that barely more than a dozen people had received doses by mid-afternoon.

Recipients included the ministers of health and security.

Only North Korea and the Horn of Africa nation of Eritrea have not administered any COVID-19 vaccines, according to the World Health Organization.

The vaccination campaign began after Burundi received a half-million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine.

Targeted groups for the doses are health workers, the elderly and people with incurable diseases, Health Minister Thaddee Ndikumana said last week.

Angola’s COVID-19 infections reach 62,789 as deaths hit 1,662

By Jerry Omondi

FILE PHOTO: A health professional administers an Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine to a nurse at the Central Vaccine depot in Luanda, Angola on March 2, 2021. /Photo by Osvaldo Silva via CFP)

Angola on Sunday reported 183 new COVID-19 infections, taking the country’s total number of cases to 62,789.

Of the new infections, 81 were males while 102 were females. The youngest patient was two years old while the oldest was 88 years old.

According to figures published by the health ministry, the number of active cases currently stands at 10,510. Of these, 29 are critical, 26 are experiencing severe symptoms, 101 have moderate symptoms, 76 have mild symptoms while 10,278 are asymptomatic.

The health ministry also reported two new deaths, taking the Southern African country’s virus-related fatalities to 1,662.

In efforts to contain further spread of COVID-19, Angola has rolled out a mass vaccination drive. This has been supplemented by various containment measures, including the closure of public-gathering facilities.

Africa’s COVID-19 infections top 8.42 million mark

By Jerry Omondi

A Kenyan man receives a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Makongeni Estate in Nairobi, Kenya Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021.(Photo by Brian Inganga via CFP)

The number of COVID-19 infections in Africa surpassed the 8.42 million mark ok Sunday as the some countries on the continent continue to see declines in new daily cases.

According to the latest data from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the continent has so far registered 8,426,107 confirmed cases with 215,467 fatalities.

South Africa remains to be the hardest-hit country by the pandemic in Africa, with 2,916,179 infections and 88,587 deaths.

Only two other countries on the continent have reported more than half a million confirmed cases; Morocco (941,863) and Tunisia (710,773).

Various countries on the continent have rolled out mass vaccination drives in efforts to contain further spread of the virus.

Having struggled to obtain the vital jabs earlier in the year, more doses started streaming in over the past two months, enabling faster vaccinations.

These vaccination drives have been supported by various government-imposed containment measures, including nighttime curfews, bans on public gatherings, closures of public leisure facilities and the mandatory wearing of face masks.

The Africa CDC data also showed that some 7,801,688 recoveries have been recorded.