Tanzania bans flights to and from India

By Grace Kuria

Tanzania’s ministry of health has on Wednesday banned all flights to and from India, due to the current surge in coronavirus cases and deaths in India.

In a statement, the country’s health permanent secretary Prof. Abel N. Makubi said, ” all flights to and from India are banned in Tanzania. This ban will be effective until further notice.”

There are however exceptions including: Cargo planes, in which case the crew will not be allowed to disembark from the conveyance.

As well as planes undertaking operations that have been approved by appropriate authorities that relate to humanitarian, diplomatic as well as medical assistance.

On Tuesday, Air Tanzania announced that effective May 4, Mumbai flights are temporarily suspended until further notice.

“Air Tanzania will waive all penalties on reservation changes, re-issues and refunds to affected passengers.” Read a statement by the Airline.

Chinese mainland reports 7 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, all imported

By CGTN

The Chinese mainland recorded seven new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, all from overseas, data from the National Health Commission (NHC) showed on Wednesday.

Of the cases, two were reported in Sichuan, and one each in Tianjin, Inner Mongolia, Shandong, Guangdong and Guangxi.

No new deaths related to COVID-19 were reported on Tuesday, the NHC said.

Ten new asymptomatic cases were recorded, while 323 asymptomatic patients are under medical observation.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Chinese mainland stands at 90,721, with the death toll remaining at 4,636.

The total number of confirmed cases in the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions and the Taiwan region are as follows:

Hong Kong: 11,790 (11,451 recoveries, 210 deaths)

Macao: 49 (49 recoveries)

Taiwan: 1,153 (1,067 recoveries, 12 deaths)

School reopens in South Sudan after more than a year of closure

By XINHUA

VCG

School reopened Monday in South Sudan after closure for more than one year due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Hussein Abdelbagi Akol, vice president in charge of service cluster, said the decision came in the wake of the recent drop in COVID-19 infections since March.

“COVID-19 is still with us but we have decided to reopen schools and will strictly follow COVID-19 preventative measures in the schools,” Akol told journalists in Juba during the official reopening for learners.

He, however, noted that schools will only operate at half capacity as preventive measures against COVID-19.

Awut Deng Acuil, minister of general education and instruction, urged parents and guardians to enroll their children, including pregnant and breast feeding girls, adding that the government is doing everything in its power to ensure that schools reopen safely.

She revealed that the reopening of schools came after the Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS), an education program, and the Global Partnership for Education, a partnership and funding platform that aims to strengthen education systems in developing countries, provided funds to enable distribution of water sanitation and hygiene supplies, thermometers, reusable masks and menstrual hygiene management kits.

The South Sudan government in partnership with GESS will pay capitation grants, in addition to cash transfers, to girls at levels from primary 5 to senior 4, she disclosed.

The schools were shut down in March 2020 and the government reopened schools in phases with final year students allowed to attend classes in October 2020.

WHO: More global COVID-19 cases reported in last 2 weeks than first 6 months of the pandemic

By Grace Kuria

World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has on Monday announced that globally, there have been more cases of COVID-19 reported in the last two weeks than during the first six months of the pandemic.

“More cases of Covid-19 have been reported globally in the past two weeks than during the first six months of the pandemic.

India and Brazil account for more than half of last week’s cases. But there are many other countries all over the world that face a very fragile situation.”  Tedros said during a news briefing in Geneva.

WHO is providing equipment and supplies, such as oxygen concentrators, to India as well as providing advice on how to provide care at home for people who are unable to find hospital beds for patients.

The WHO Foundation is also raising funds to support the need for oxygen and related supplies globally, he said.

Tedros called upon everyone to continue following WHO and national advice around public health safety measures.

“What’s happening in India and Brazil could happen elsewhere unless we all take these public health precautions that WHO has been calling for since the beginning of the pandemic.

Vaccines are part of the answer, but they are not the only answer.”  Tedros said.

(With input from CNN)

UNICEF: World should send urgent help to India

By Grace Kuria

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore has said that it is “very worried” about the current COVID-19 crisis in India and urged the world to send urgent help to the country.

CNBC reports that Fore also said it was a “race to save lives” through vaccinations, particularly in some of the world’s poorest countries with “very fragile” health systems. “It is worrying for several reasons. One, is it a precursor to what might happen in other countries, particularly countries in Africa, with much weaker healthcare systems?” Fore said last week.

“It’s worrying because their health care system has been overwhelmed. It is the need for oxygen and therapeutics that we just have not seen in this pandemic in another country at this scale.”

Fore said both UNICEF and the COVAX global vaccine program had sent help to the country, and aid from other nations was making a big difference.

“But it’s not enough because India is part of our supply chain. So, it is both where we source many of the vaccines, it’s also where we need to give help as a world to India now,” she added.

Other foreign donors like Germany, France, U.S., Belgium have already sent their emergency medical aid to the country which has as of now topped 20 million coronavirus cases.

(With input from CNBC)

Tanzania issues travel advisory aimed at controlling the COVID-19 pandemic

By Grace Kuria

Tanzania has on Monday issued a COVID-19 travel advisory aimed at controlling the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement, Tanzania’s Health Permanent Secretary Prof. Abel Makubi said The new measures effective Tuesday May 4, include: all travelers, whether foreigners or returning residents will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test certificate upon arrival.

All travelers, whether foreigners or returning residents arriving from countries with new COVID-19 variants based on WHO daily updates or those who have travelled through those countries in the last 14 days regardless of route taken shall be subjected to rapid test at point of entry followed by 14 days mandatory quarantine at their own cost.

Travelers subjected for mandatory quarantine shall choose a place from the list designated by the Government. Returning residents will be allowed to isolate themselves in their homes.

Those on transit in other countries more than 72 hours will be required to be retested by rapid test upon arrival in Tanzania.

Trucks/vehicles crew members have also been advised to have only 2-3 crew members per vehicle to facilitate smooth border crossing in the region.

Trucks will be decontaminated before it is allowed to continue to its final destination if driver or crew members are suspected to have COVID-19 or test positive for COVID-19.

Driver or crew members will be subjected to enhanced screening at points of entry and may be quarantined or isolated at designated facilities at their own cost in case they are suspected of COVID-19 infection.

All drivers or crew members with negative COVID-19 results may randomly be selected for re-testing upon arrival for quality assurance.

On April 18, Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan announced that she has already formed a COVID-19 committee to counsel her on measures to take as a country to protect Tanzania against the coronavirus pandemic.

Zimbabwe receives $75 million from Global Fund to fight COVID-19

By XINHUA

Zimbabwe has received 75 million U.S. dollars from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and the COVID-19 pandemic, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said.

The funding is for three years from 2021 to 2023, Mutsvangwa said during a post-cabinet media briefing.

“It should, however, be noted that the government continues to provide resources from its own coffers for the COVID-19 response program, with 11 billion Zimbabwean dollars having been released since the onset of the outbreak,” she said.

Apart from receiving 400,000 vaccine doses that were donated by China, Zimbabwe has also purchased 1.2 million doses of vaccines from the Asian country.

The country launched its vaccination campaign in February, and a total of 353,834 people have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 57,776 their second as of Monday.

Malawi imposes travel ban on Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Pakistan

By XINHUA

Malawi government has banned with immediate effect travels to and from Bangladesh, Brazil, India and Pakistan following the severe spreading of the new COVID-19 wave in those countries.

Malawi Minister of Health, Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, declared the ban Monday in an update on COVID-19 in the country.

Chiponda, who co-chairs the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, said the decision was arrived at following the current trend of the pandemic in the country compared to that of the four listed countries.

“To guard against the threat of importation and spread of the new variant from the Indian sub-continent in the country, the Taskforce has resolved to ban, with immediate effect, all – but essential arrivals and travel – from these three South-Eastern Asian countries, namely, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan,” the minister said.

She said the travel restriction is also extended to Brazil where the new COVID-19 wave has also been devastating.

The minister advised that those undertaking essential travel to and from the named countries shall be required to undergo mandatory institutional quarantine at designated hotel accommodation at their own cost on arrival into the country.

She added that such travelers will be required to be in possession of a negative PCR-based COVID-19 test result or certificate for a test conducted no more than 72 hours before arrival in Malawi.

Malawi suffered the most during the second wave of the pandemic in January when the country recorded over 1,300 new cases in one day, the highest figure ever, but the prevalence rate began to drop drastically in March.

Over 77% of eligible residents in Zimbabwe’s prime tourist destination vaccinated

By XINHUA

Zimbabwe said its prime tourist destination Victoria Falls has become the first city to achieve herd immunity in the country after administering COVID-19 vaccines to more than three-quarters of the targeted population.

The city is home to the magnificent Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe’s premier tourist attraction and one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Last month, the government supplied the town of about 35,000 residents with 60,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine purchased from China to cover all eligible residents as part of a plan to make the city the first COVID-19-free tourism hotspot in the world.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday applauded health officials for making the development a possibility.

“Last month I received my COVID-19 vaccine in Victoria Falls. I am immensely proud that over 77 percent of the city’s inhabitants have received their second jab,” he said on social media on Monday.

As a city that depends on the tourism industry, Victoria Falls has been hardest hit by the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, more than 350,000 people visited the Zimbabwean side of the waterfall every year to admire the world’s largest waterfall by volume of falling water.

However, with global travel restrictions and strict national lockdowns enforced to curb the spread of COVID-19, tourist activities in the resort city were shut down for the greater part of 2020.

Zimbabwe launched its nationwide vaccination campaign on Feb. 18 with Sinopharm vaccines donated by China. To date, more than 350,000 people have been vaccinated.

So far the country has taken delivery of two batches of Sinovac doses purchased from China, adding to two batches of Sinopharm doses donated by the Chinese government.

Kenya vaccinates more than 840,000 persons, as COVID-19 infections top 157,000

By Grace Kuria

Kenya has on Tuesday announced that it has inoculated a total of 840,075 persons against COVID-19.

Of these, 486,050 are aged 58 years and above, 154,031 are Health Care Workers, 129,527 teachers, while 70,467 are security officers.

As at April 26, a total of 1,080,000 doses had been distributed to the regional depots countrywide leaving a balance of 40,000 doses at the Kitengela Central Vaccine stores.

The country’s ministry of health also announced that it has recorded 511 new coronavirus cases, raising the country’s total tally to 157,492 cases.

According to the Ministry of Health, 467 people have recovered from the disease, 385 from Home Based and Isolation Care while 82 are from various health facilities countrywide.

The number of total recoveries is now at 107,303. 78,207 from Home Based Care and Isolation while 29,096 are from various health facilities.

Unfortunately, 22 people have succumbed to the disease. Total fatalities from COVID-19 now stand at 2,665.