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Kim Jong Un visits China ahead of expected Trump summit

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By AFP
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was in China Tuesday on an unannounced visit for talks with President Xi Jinping, as preparations ramp up for an expected second summit with Donald Trump.

China is the isolated, nuclear-armed North’s key diplomatic ally and main source of trade and aid, and the visit is likely to heighten speculation about the potential meeting with the US president, as Kim could coordinate his strategy with Xi.

The North Korean leader, accompanied by his wife Ri Sol Ju and several senior officials, set off from Pyongyang station on board his private train on Monday, the Korean Central News Agency reported.

The trip is at Xi’s invitation and set to run over four days until Thursday, according to KCNA and China’s official Xinhua news agency.

The visit comes a week after Kim warned in a New Year’s speech that Pyongyang may change its approach to nuclear talks if Washington persists with sanctions.

“Both Xi and Kim see value in coordinating their positions in advance of Trump-Kim summits. That appears to be a pattern,” Bonnie Glaser, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told AFP.

“Kim also seeks Beijing’s help in getting international sanctions eased.”

While China and Russia have said the United Nations should consider relaxing sanctions on North Korea, Trump insisted Sunday that they would remain “in full force and effect” until the US sees “very positive” results in the nuclear issue.

Kim’s trip also coincides with the second day of talks between US and Chinese officials in Beijing aimed at resolving their trade war — China has in the past rejected the notion that it was using the North Korean issue as a bargaining chip in the negotiations.

“Xi also gains from a summit with Kim — and the timing could not be any better,” said Harry Kazianis, director of defence studies at the Center for the National Interest, a US think tank.

“With Chinese and US officials meeting to discuss how to end the growing trade war between the two superpowers, it shows Beijing clearly has a North Korea card to play if it sees fit.”

Kim — whose birthday is reportedly on Tuesday, although that has never been confirmed by Pyongyang — visited China three times last year to pay his respects to Xi.

Until his first trip in March, Kim had not met Xi in the six years after inheriting power from his father, as relations between the neighbours, once described as close as “lips and teeth”, deteriorated.

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But a whirlwind of diplomacy enveloped the Korean peninsula last year, with Kim also meeting the South’s President Moon Jae-in three times, and culminating in his high-profile Singapore summit with Trump in June.

None of Kim’s 2018 trips to China were announced in advance, and the earliest indications of the first one — before Kim met either Moon or Trump — came when his train was spotted in Beijing.

At the Singapore summit, Kim and Trump signed a vaguely worded pledge about the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, but progress has since stalled amid disagreements over what that means, with meetings and visits cancelled at short notice.

Negotiations were under way on the location of their next meeting, Trump said Sunday, while remaining evasive on its timing.

The US president said last week he had received a “great letter” from the North Korean leader but declined to reveal its contents.

Washington is demanding Pyongyang give up its nuclear arsenal before any relief from economic sanctions is granted, while the North is insisting on immediate concessions from the US.

Culminating in late 2017, Pyongyang carried out six nuclear tests and launched rockets capable of reaching the entire US mainland, but has now carried out no such tests for more than a year.

Kim’s latest trip to China began under the usual veil of secrecy, emerging only after South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, citing an informed source, reported that a special North Korean train had been seen crossing the border late Monday.

In the Chinese border city of Dandong, dozens of security vehicles and officials blocked the roads around the train station on Monday before the train passed through, Yonhap reported, before reopening them afterwards.

Japan’s Kyodo news agency added that hotel guests in Dandong had not been allowed to enter rooms facing the river that forms the border on Monday afternoon, in what it cited sources describing as “an apparent move to prevent the train from being seen”.

Seoul “expects that high-level exchanges between the North and China… will be able to contribute to the complete denuclearisation and establishment of permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula”, a South Korean foreign ministry official said Tuesday, according to Yonhap.​



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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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