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WHO warns against easing virus measures too early

by Staff reporter
08 Apr 2020 at 07:57hrs | Views
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has no blanket recommendation for countries and regions for easing measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, but urged them not to lift them too early as Spain has reported a slight increase in the daily death toll of coronavirus for the first time in five days, with 743 people succumbing overnight.

"One of the most important parts is not to let go of the measures too early in order not to have a fall back again," said WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier in a virtual briefing. "It's similar to being sick yourself if you get out of bed too early and get running too early you risk falling back and having complications," he added.

Japan declared a state of emergency yesterday amid a spike in coronavirus cases, as Singapore began a partial lockdown and other countries extended stay-at-home orders to curb the spread of the disease.

In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was diagnosed with coronavirus late last month, was moved to intensive care in a London hospital after his condition worsened on Monday evening. The spokesperson for Johnson in a media briefing said the PM was in "good spirits" after the conservative leader was moved to intensive care on Monday evening. Johnson is breathing standard oxygen without any other assistance, requiring no mechanical ventilation or non-invasive respiratory support. Foreign secretary Dominic Raab will be leading the UK government response to the coronavirus while Johnson is in hospital.

Globally, the number of people diagnosed with the virus now exceeds 1.3 million. More than 74 500 people have died while nearly 285 000 have recovered, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Britain's Queen Elizabeth yesterday sent a message of "enduring appreciation and good wishes" to health workers around the world for World Health Day.

"I want to thank all those working in the healthcare profession for your selfless commitment and diligence as you undertake vitally important roles to protect and improve the health and well-being of people," the queen said. "My family and I send our enduring appreciation and good wishes," the queen said.

EU finance ministers hope to agree a coronavirus economic rescue package for the worst-hit member states on Tuesday, but will fall short of demands from beleaguered Spain and Italy. The EU's 27 finance ministers are to hold a video conference where, at the least, they should strike a deal to use the eurozone's 410-billion-euro ($443-billion) bailout fund. But, with deep divisions between the rich northern countries and the heavily-indebted south, they are expected to put aside — for now — a proposal to issue "coronabonds" to pool public borrowing.

A Japanese sake brewery has warned against binge drinking at home as more Japanese are expected to hunker down indoors after the government stepped up calls for people to stay at home to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Asahi Shuzo, whose premium Dassai is served in high-end restaurants worldwide, said imbibing at home was not a bad thing — as long as tipplers avoided going too deep in their cups. "When you can't go out, the stress will gradually get to you.

So it's important to seek relief by playing games or enjoying a drink," the company said on its website. "We suggest drinking a moderate amount, slowly," it said. A popular Nigerian actress was arrested for throwing a birthday party during a lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country's financial capital, Lagos. Funke Akindele, a Nollywood film star popularly known as Jenifa, was accused of hosting guests at the bash for her husband in their upscale residence in Lekki on Saturday.

In South Africa, president Cyril Ramaphosa is leading a delegation of ministers for a meeting with bishops of the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) on Sunday as part of coronavirus interventions, ahead of what is usually a massive Easter pilgrimage to Moria in Limpopo.

Limpopo Premier Stanley Mathabatha was part of the delegation to meet with Bishops Engenas Lekganyane and Barnabas Lekganyane. The Presidency said it was a courtesy visit to express gratitude to the Zion churches, to provide update on government's response to curbing the spread of the coronavirus, to seek the advice and counsel of the church, and to ask for prayers for the nation in the fight against Covid-19.

By Saturday, Limpopo had 18 confirmed cases of Covid-19, according to the Department of Health. Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu said the purpose of the visit was also to thank the church for not having its Good Friday service.

After Ramaphosa announced that, due to the declaration of a national state of disaster, gatherings would be restricted to fewer than 100 people in one place, there was uncertainty over whether the ZCC would cancel the massive pilgrimage to Moria in Limpopo, where a huge camp is set up for devotees who spend the Easter weekend praying.

The French embassy in South Africa has expressed shock about a proposal by two top French doctors that Africa should become a giant laboratory for coronavirus vaccines testing because the continent lacks the resources to defend against the infections. In the live broadcast on the French TV channel LCI, Jean-Paul Mira and Camille Locht raised the idea of testing new vaccines on impoverished African populations.

Mira is head of the intensive care department at the Cochin Hospital in Paris, while Locht is research director at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm). "If I can be provocative," said Mira, "shouldn't we do this study in Africa where there are no masks, no treatment, no intensive care? A bit like we did in some studies on AIDS. We tried things on prostitutes because they are highly exposed and do not protect themselves."

In a statement, the French embassy in South Africa said that exchange "provoked strong reactions".

"We are deeply shocked by these comments, that of course, do not reflect the position of the French authorities."

It said that the French government is committed to increased efforts to fight the coronavirus in Africa, "within the framework of the G7, the G20 and the European Union".

"Vulnerable countries, particularly on the African continent, need assistance in support of their health systems, research, and also in humanitarian and economic terms to reduce the impact of the crisis. What is at stake is the solidarity with vulnerable countries, as well as the need to avoid a resurgence of the epidemic after it has subsided in other countries of the world."

But describing it as "fake news", Inserm tweeted that the video was misinterpreted on social media.

Source - Al Jazeera