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DR Congo Ebola epidemic widens on eve of first anniversary

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By AFP
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An epidemic of Ebola in eastern DR Congo sharply widened on Wednesday, the eve of the first anniversary of the outbreak, with the announcement of a death in a major city and the quarantining of 15 people in a province that had previously escaped the disease.

A total of 1,803 lives have been lost in the second worst outbreak of Ebola on record, according to figures released Wednesday.

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s pointman on the crisis, Jean-Jacques Muyembe, said a second person had died of Ebola in Goma, a densely-populated city on the border with Rwanda that has transport links to many parts of East Africa.

“A patient who was confirmed with Ebola in Goma has died. Every measure has been taken to block the chain of transmission,” Muyembe told AFP.

Goma is the capital of North Kivu province, which has borne the brunt of the outbreak that began on August 1 2018.

It is a lakeside city of more than two million people that has an airport with flights to the capital Kinshasa, Uganda’s Entebbe and Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, as well as a port that links to Bukavu and South Kivu province.

Health experts fear outbreaks in major cities, where population density and high mobility make it far harder to isolate patients and trace contacts compared to the countryside.

Aruna Abedi, the chief Ebola coordinator in North Kivu, said the second fatality had arrived at a treatment centre “11 days after falling ill”.

“His was really a hopeless case, because the illness was already at an advanced stage and he died overnight Tuesday.”

Abedi urged the public to respond swiftly to symptoms of Ebola and “not hide suspect cases”.

“The treatment centre is not a dying room—you have to bring the patient in early,” he said.

The first death in Goma, reported on July 16, sparked a wave of concern.

In that case, a man described as an evangelical preacher had travelled from Goma to Butembo, one of the towns hardest hit by the outbreak.

While there, he preached at seven churches and regularly touched worshippers, including the sick, before returning to Goma.

The day after his announced death, the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) declared the epidemic a “public health emergency of international concern” — a move designed to step up the global response.

The WHO has since said a shortage in funding was finally being filled after several countries renewed pledges of financial aid.

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The World Bank also announced this month it would deploy a further $300 million (269 million euros) in addition to $100 million already provided.
Many people in Goma voiced frustration and despair.

“I’m now afraid that this disease will reach us. We used to hear about it from a distance and now the virus is in our town,” said 27-year-old worker Anuarite Sifa.

“Why hasn’t the Butembo-Goma road been sealed off?” she asked.

Joseph Bakisula, 32, said: “This new death proves that Ebola was already in Goma. May God help us, otherwise it will be catastrophic for us and other towns” connected to Goma.

“The authorities have to take other steps to protect us.”

Meanwhile, in neighbouring South Kivu province, which had previously skirted the epidemic, a senior official in Birava said 15 people had been quarantined.

They comprised “a mum and her six children who came from Goma as well as other members of her family who had come to meet them,” said the official, Christian Birhinjira.

Birava is located about 30 kilometres (18 miles) from the Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu.

Among the Democratic Republic of Congo’s neighbours, fears have mounted that the highly contagious virus will cross porous borders.

“Economic and human exchanges are very intense,” the Central African Republic’s health minister, Pierre Somse, warned last week.

“Our livestock farmers sell their cattle in DR Congo. Rebel groups and poachers go back and forth across the border. The risks are high.”

Health Minister Oly Ilunga quit in protest on July 22 after President Felix Tshisekedi took personal control of the Ebola campaign.

One key challenge will be protecting doctors and nurses trying to contain the virus.

Attacks on health workers have had a devastating effect, with seven murdered and more than 50 seriously hurt, according to an unofficial tally.

The epidemic in DR Congo is the deadliest on record after more than 11,000 people were killed in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia between 2014-2016.

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Meet George Floyd baby mama, daughter – Nairobi News

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As the world struggles to recover from the cruel death of George Floyd in the hands of the Minneapolis Police, the deceased’s baby mama has made an emotional plea for justice, sobbing as she insisted he was a good man “no matter what anybody thinks”.

With her six-year-old daughter Gianna clinging to her, Roxie Washington said she wanted all four officers involved in Floyd’s death to pay for the death, which has sparked fierce protests across the US and the world.

“At the end of the day, they get to go home and be with their families. Gianna doesn’t have a father. He will never see her group up, graduate. He will never walk her down the aisle.”

She made these remarks during a news conference at Minneapolis City Hall.

“He loved her, he loved her so much,” she said.

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“I’m here for my baby. I’m here for George because I want justice for him because he was good. No matter what anybody thinks, he was good.”

Floyd, 46, died last week in Minneapolis after police officer Derek Chauvin was filmed kneeling on his neck for at least eight minutes while arresting him for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 note at a shop.

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Ichung’wah, Kuria among 17 MPs targetted in Jubilee Party clean-up » Capital News

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NAIROBI, Kenya Jun 3 – Budget and Appropriations Committee Chairman Kimani Ichung’wah and Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria are among key allies of Deputy President William Ruto, targetted in a fresh purge on House leadership by the Jubilee Party.

A day after President Uhuru Kenyatta convened a Parliamentary Group meeting at State House, Newly appointed Majority Whip Emmanuel Wangwe (Navakholo) wrote to 17 MPs demanding that they should show cause why they should not be removed from various departmental Committee.

If the discharge is effected, Kuria will lose his post as the vice-chairman of the Transport, Public Works and Housing Committee.

Other MPs listed in the ouster plot include Bomet County Woman Representative Joyce Korir, who is also the vice-chairperson of the Labour and Social Welfare Committee, Cornelly Serem (Aldai) and Robert Pukose (Endebess) who are vice-chairpersons to the Trade, Industry and Cooperatives and Energy Committees respectively.

Wangwe gave the MPs seven days to respond to his letter.

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The Jubilee PG on Tuesday resolved to strip National Assembly Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East) and his deputy Cecily Mbarire (Nominated MP) of their positions.

The move followed the removal of Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki, Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen and Senate Majority Whip Susan Kihika who were accused of sabotaging the President’s agenda.

And on Wednesday, Kieni Member of Parliament Kanini Kega said he was collecting signatures to also remove Majority Leader Aden Duale.

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“I have so far collected 115 signatures,” he said, “I am confident that by tomorrow we will have at least 155.”

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Interior PS Karanja Kibicho hints at reopening of the economy: The Standard

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Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho. [File, Standard]
NairobiOn Saturday June 6, President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to give a way forward in regard to cessation of movement in the affected counties

Interior Permanent Secretary Karanja Kibicho has hinted on a likely phased re-opening of the country even as Kenyans await eagerly on the new measures set to be announced on Saturday.

In an interview with Radio Citizen, Kibicho said the government had found itself in a difficult position since recorded Covid-19 cases in the country are on the rise but noted high-level discussions were ongoing.
“We cannot lock-down forever, the government makes its money from taxes, currently people are not at work, personally I think we can re-open but under strict guidelines,” Kibicho said.
According to the PS, some restrictions may be lifted although the government will not be relaxing the requirements on face-masks and social distancing.
SEE ALSO: COVID-19: The interruption of customs
“Companies willing to re-open will need to ensure guidelines on face-masks and social distancing are adhered to because the new coronavirus is still here with us,” he added.
Kibicho urged Kenyans to remain vigilant and not to expect a sudden normalcy saying the re-opening of the economy was a very delicate balance requiring the participation of everyone.
On Saturday June 6, President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to give a way forward in regard to cessation of movement in the affected counties. The previous containment order directive affecting Nairobi, Mombasa and Kwale counties will elapse on Saturday.
The daily dusk-to-dawn curfew which had been extended by a further 21 days will also be lapsing on June 6.
On Monday during Madaraka Day celebrations held at State house, President Uhuru Kenyatta hinted at the reopening of places of worship.
SEE ALSO: Kenya Power employees turn Covid-19 positive
While delivering his speech, the President said he shared the heavy hearts of all those who can no longer worship as they used to.
“I direct the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Health to continue and hasten their engagement with religious leaders; with the objective of developing protocols that will be adopted to guide a more participatory way of worship while guaranteeing the safety of worshipers,” he said.
During his seventh national address on the progress made in containing the virus in the country, the president noted that every Kenyan would have to take responsibility to prevent the spread of the highly infections virus.
“We will not continue with the lock-down and the curfew, I have told health officials and my ministers that they should start telling Kenyans that we cannot be under a curfew or lock-down forever,” he said.

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