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Global virus death toll passes 94,000, but some signs of hope » Capital News

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Brussels, Belgium, Apr 10 – Another horror day of the coronavirus pandemic saw the global death toll pass 94,000, although there were tentative signs of hope that the crisis was peaking in the United States and Europe.

The picture of the unfolding economic catastrophe also became clearer with the IMF warning of a Great Depression and data showing 17 million Americans lost their jobs, but a European Union financial rescue package agreement offered some relief to the barrage of bad news.

Graphic showing how a single COVID-19 cluster of infections progressed in two American families, according to a study published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention © AFP / John SAEKI

Another 1,700 people died in the United States on Thursday, while there were hundreds more deaths across Europe, driving the confirmed global toll above 94,000.

Nearly half of all pandemic fatalities have occurred over the past week.

But authorities in worst-hit Europe and the United States said a slight decline in daily deaths and infections gave reason to hope the worst could be over.

“The fire started by the pandemic is starting to come under control,” said Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez of Spain, where fatalities inched down to 683 from 757 a day before, pushing that country’s total above 15,000.

Brazil’s military, firefighters and Civil Defense members disinfect each other after cleaning a bus station in Belo Horizonte, Brazil © AFP / DOUGLAS MAGNO

“Our priority now is not to turn back, especially not to return to our starting point, not to lower our guard.”

France also reported that 82 fewer people were in intensive care for COVID-19 — the first fall since the pandemic broke out.

And Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top pandemic expert, said the United States was “going in the right direction”.

The US recorded 1,783 deaths in the past 24 hours, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University as of 0030 GMT Friday, lower than the previous day’s record toll of 1,973.

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Sanitation workers disinfect a camp for displaced Syrians next to the Idlib municipal stadium © AFP / OMAR HAJ KADOUR

The US has seen more than 16,500 confirmed deaths, the second-highest tally in the world after Italy, and more than 460,000 confirmed cases.

In New York, the epicentre of the virus in the United States, only 200 more people entered hospitals, the lowest number since the pandemic struck, even though 799 people died over the last day, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

“We are flattening the curve by what we are doing,” Cuomo said, adding, “We have to keep the curve flat.”

Medical personnel move a body to a refrigerated truck serving as a makeshift morgue at Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York © AFP / Angela Weiss

But he declined to predict how New York would fare in the coming weeks, telling reporters bluntly: “I have no idea.”

Further lifting spirits, the health improved of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the highest profile of the 1.5 million people infected by the virus, and he ended three days of intensive care.

However Britain announced another 881 deaths on Thursday, taking the total to nearly 8,000.

– ‘A Europe that protects’ –

A display of images in Piccadilly Circus in central London accompanies a message of support for “our local heroes” working to combat the coronavirus epidemic © AFP / ISABEL INFANTES

On the economic front, Europe attempted a fightback with EU finance ministers agreeing in late-night talks to a 500 billion-euro ($550 billion) rescue package aimed at reducing pain across the 27-nation bloc, especially hardest-hit Italy and Spain.

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“Europe has decided and is ready to meet the gravity of the crisis,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire tweeted after the talks.

Lebanese nationals repatriated from Qatar enter quarantine at a hotel in the Lebanese capital Beirut © AFP

He warned earlier in the day that France’s economy was expected to shrink six percent this year, even with the country’s own 100-billion-euro relief plan.

The US Federal Reserve threw its own fresh lifeline to Americans, with chairman Jerome Powell announcing a $2.3 trillion financing measure “to provide as much relief and stability as we can during this period of constrained economic activity.”

Shoppers sit in a queue to buy food from stalls at market in the centre of the Algerian capital © AFP / RYAD KRAMDI

The International Monetary Fund said 170 of its 180 members would see declines in per capita income this year — just a few months after predictions that nearly all would enjoy growth.

“We anticipate the worst economic fallout since the Great Depression,” said IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva, urging governments to provide lifelines to businesses and households alike.

– Developing world fears –

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And despite hopeful signs in Western nations as well as in China, where the virus was first detected late last year, there are fears the worst is still to come in much of the developing world.

A field hospital with 100 beds is set up at Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya © AFP / Yasuyoshi CHIBA

War-torn Yemen, which has been experiencing one of the world’s most acute humanitarian crises, on Friday reported its first case.

Brazilian authorities Thursday confirmed the first deaths in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro where crowding and poor sanitation have raised fears of a catastrophe.

There are similar fears in India, where hundreds of millions of poor people are becoming increasingly desperate.

Employees of a restaurant wearing masks stand outside their eatery before it opens in the Chinatown area in Yokohama, Japan © AFP / Philip FONG

“I keep hearing that the government will do this and that. No one has even come to see if we are alive or dead,” Rajni Devi, a mother of three, told AFP in a slum on the outskirts of New Delhi.

In a move to build international solidarity over the crisis, Germany on Thursday led a videoconference session of the UN Security Council on the pandemic.

A homeless woman and stray dogs sit beneath a bridge in Chennai as it rains during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown in India © AFP / Arun SANKAR

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the session by calling the pandemic “the fight of a generation — and the raison d’etre of the United Nations itself.”

Guterres appealed for a global halt to conflicts to concentrate on the COVID-19 fight.

Saudi Arabia embraced the call by announcing a unilateral pause in its brutal offensive against rebels who control much of Yemen.

US President Donald Trump said he spoke Thursday to Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and thought they were near a deal to end an oil price war that has thrown further uncertainties into the global economy.

OPEC announced Friday that major oil producers except Mexico had agreed to cut output.

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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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Activists fight in court over whether children should return to school

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By MAUREEN KAKAH

Seven activists have moved to court to stop reopening of learning institutions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The activists, Michael Otieno, Evance Oloo, Mary Akach, Irene Ojwang, Robert Oluoch, Millicent Adhiambo and Evans Odhiambo claim that many children from poor and rural areas are disadvantaged by the ongoing virtual learning.

In the suit filed against the Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha, the Attorney-General and the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), the activists argue that there are learners who lack access to electricity, have special needs or have been affected by floods besides the Covid-19 pandemic.

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They opposed the reopening of schools without consideration of guidelines issued by UNESCO.

“Recognising that the concept of education is the most fundamental duty and necessity in any democracy, children are the supreme assets of any nation being the greatest gift to humanity, they deserve equality, right to life and highest standards of attainable health status,” they said.

According to the UN guidelines on reopening of schools amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, public health and socio-economic factors must be central to national and local authorities’ decisions on this matter after assessing the associated benefits as well as risks to education.

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UNESCO, UNICEF, World Food Programme and World Bank have already indicated that the closure of schools due to the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about many unprecedented risks to children’s education as well as their well-being even though there is no enough evidence on disease transmission rate.

In the said guidelines, governments have been urged to prioritise education for all children including the marginalised and strengthen distance learning and establish support for reopening of schools.

Governments have also been urged to consider how various school going children, teachers and communities are coping with the pandemic in various contexts and how decision makers can best give support while considering risk factors on one hand and benefits of classroom learning on the other.

According to the petitioners, most parents have been affected by the pandemic and the cost of virtual learning besides settling bills, feeding their children and supervising their learning at home has been overwhelming.

They want the case certified urgent and the ongoing broadcast on learning programmes to primary and secondary students as set by KICD be temporarily suspended.

They also want the timetable set by KICD to be halted and any plans by the government to reopen schools suspended until when the institutions will be pandemic compliant.

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