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Coronavirus: 19 African Countries to Benefit from IMF Debt Relief + Other Recent Updates

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The International Monetary Fund has approved to provide immediate debt relief to 25 member countries that have requested financial assistance as they deal with the coronavirus pandemic, Kristalina Georgieva, IMF managing director announced on Monday.

The funds will be used “to cover their IMF debt obligations for an initial phase over the next six months and will help them channel more of their scarce financial resources towards vital emergency medical and other relief efforts,”

According to the newsletter, the countries receiving the grants are among the IMF’s “poorest and most vulnerable members” and these countries are Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, Togo and Yemen.

Read the full statement below:

 

Meanwhile, in Vietnam, there’s an ATM that dispenses Rice

In Vietnam‘s capital city Hanoi, rice contained in a large water tank pours out into residents’ bags from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, according to CNN.

According to Hanoi Times, those waiting in line are required to stand six feet apart from each other and they must use hand sanitizer before receiving their rice. In the central city of Hue, a rice ATM located at a college provides 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of free rice for residents. In Ho Chi Minh City, a rice ATM dispenses rice 24/7.

The United States backs Africa in China racism saga

The United States of America has condemned reports of racist attacks on African in China, tagging the videos and stories “appalling.”

Last week, reports were making the rounds on social media, of several Africans including Nigerians in China who were evicted from their homes by landlords and turned away from hotels, despite many claiming to have no recent travel history or known contact with COVID-19 patients.

In a tweet on Monday, the Assistant Secretary for U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs, Tibor Nagy condemned the actions which he said targeted African Americans as well, adding that Beijing needed to do more to stop the attacks.

He tweeted: Videos and stories from #Guangzhou are appalling. Abuse and xenophobia have no place in our fight against this global pandemic. Chinese authorities must do more to stop these attacks against Africans living and working in China”.

In case you missed it, read President Muhammadu Buhari’s full address on the extension of COVID-19 lockdown

On Monday evening, President Muhammadu Buhari made his second nationwide broadcast on the endeavours by the Federal Government to curb coronavirus, extending the lockdown in Lagos, Ogun States and Abuja by two weeks effective from April 13th.

Read the text of his full address below:

ADDRESS BY H.E. MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA ON THE EXTENSION OF COVID- 19 PANDEMIC LOCKDOWN AT THE STATE HOUSE, ABUJA
MONDAY, 13TH APRIL, 2020

Fellow Nigerians

In my address on Sunday, 29th March, 2020, I asked the residents of Lagos and Ogun States as well as the Federal Capital Territory to stay at home for an initial period of fourteen days starting from Monday, 30th March 2020.

Many State Governments also introduced similar restrictions. As your democratically elected leaders, we made this very difficult decision knowing fully well it will severely disrupt your livelihoods and bring undue hardship to you, your loved ones and your communities.

However, such sacrifices are needed to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our country. They were necessary to save lives. Our objective was, and still remains, to contain the spread of the Coronavirus and to provide space, time and resources for an aggressive and collective action.

The level of compliance to the COVID-19 guidelines issued has been generally good across the country. I wish to thank you all most sincerely for the great sacrifice you are making for each other at this critical time. I will take this opportunity to recognise the massive support from our traditional rulers, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) during this pandemic.

I also acknowledge the support and contributions received from public spirited individuals, the business community and our international partners and friends. I must also thank the media houses, celebrities and other public figures for the great work they are doing in sensitizing our citizens on hygienic practices, social distancing and issues associated with social gatherings. As a result of the overwhelming support and cooperation received, we were able to achieve a lot during these 14 days of initial lockdown.

We implemented comprehensive public health measures that intensified our case identification, testing, isolation and contact tracing capabilities. To date, we have identified 92% of all identified contacts while doubling the number of testing laboratories in the country and raising our testing capacity to 1,500 tests per day.

We also trained over 7,000 Healthcare workers on infection prevention and control while deploying NCDC teams to 19 states of the federation. Lagos and Abuja today have the capacity to admit some 1,000 patients each across several treatment centres. Many State Governments have also made provisions for isolation wards and treatment centres. We will also build similar centers near our airports and land borders.

Using our resources and those provided through donations, we will adequately equip and man these centres in the coming weeks. Already, health care workers across all the treatment centers have been provided with the personal protective equipment that they need to safely carry out the care they provide. Our hope and prayers are that we do not have to use all these centres. But we will be ready for all eventualities.

At this point, I must recognise the incredible work being done by our healthcare workers and volunteers across the country especially in frontline areas of Lagos and Ogun States as well as the Federal Capital Territory.

You are our heroes and as a nation, we will forever remain grateful for your sacrifice during this very difficult time. More measures to motivate our health care workers are being introduced which we will announce in the coming weeks. As a nation, we are on the right track to win the fight against COVID-19.

However, I remain concerned about the increase in number of confirmed cases and deaths being reported across the world and in Nigeria specifically.

On 30th March 2020, when we started our lockdown in conforming with medical and scientific advice, the total number of confirmed cases across the world was over 780,000.

Yesterday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases globally was over one million, eight hundred and fifty thousand. This figure is more than double in two weeks!

In the last fourteen days alone, over 70,000 people have died due to this disease. In the same period, we have seen the health system of even the most developed nations being overwhelmed by this virus.

Here in Nigeria, we had 131 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 12 States on 30th March 2020. We had two fatalities then.

This morning, Nigeria had 323 confirmed cases in twenty States. Unfortunately we now have ten fatalities. Lagos State remains the center and accounts for 54% of the confirmed cases in Nigeria. When combined with the FCT, the two locations represent over 71% of the confirmed cases in Nigeria. Most of our efforts will continue to focus in these two locations.

Majority of the confirmed cases in Lagos and the FCT are individuals with recent international travel history or those that came into contact with returnees from international trips.

By closing our airports and land borders and putting strict conditions for seaport activities, we have reduced the impact of external factors on our country. However, the increase in the number of States with positive cases is alarming.

The National Centre for Disease Control has informed me that, a large proportion of new infections are now occurring in our communities, through person-to-person contacts. So we must pay attention to the danger of close contact between person to person. At this point, I will remind all Nigerians to continue to take responsibility for the recommended measures to prevent transmission, including maintaining physical distancing, good personal hygiene and staying at home.

In addition, I have signed the Quarantine Order in this regard and additional regulations to provide clarity in respect of the control measures for the COVID-19 pandemic which will be released soon. The public health response to COVID-19 is built on our ability to detect, test and admit cases as well as trace all their contacts. While I note some appreciable progress, we can achieve a lot more.

Today, the cessation of movement, physical distancing measures and the prohibition of mass gatherings remain the most efficient and effective way of reducing the transmission of the virus. By sustaining these measures, combined with extensive testing and contact tracing, we can take control and limit the spread of the disease.

Our approach to the virus remains in 2 steps – First, to protect the lives of our fellow Nigerians and residents living here and second, to preserve the livelihoods of workers and business owners.

With this in mind and having carefully considered the briefings and Report from the Presidential Task Force and the various options offered, it has become necessary to extend the current restriction of movement in Lagos and Ogun States as well as the FCT for another 14 days effective from 11:59 pm on Monday, 13th of April, 2020. I am therefore once again asking you all to work with Government in this fight.

This is not a joke. It is a matter of life and death. Mosques in Makkah and Madina have been closed. The Pope celebrated Mass on an empty St. Peter’s Square. The famous Notre Dame cathedral in Paris held Easter Mass with less than 10 people. India, Italy and France are in complete lockdown. Other countries are in the process of following suit. We can not be lax.

The previously issued guidelines on exempted services shall remain. This is a difficult decision to take, but I am convinced that this is the right decision. The evidence is clear. The repercussions of any premature end to the lockdown action are unimaginable. We must not lose the gains achieved thus far. We must not allow a rapid increase in community transmission. We must endure a little longer.

I will therefore take this opportunity to urge you all to notify the relevant authorities if you or your loved ones develop any symptoms. I will also ask our health care professionals to redouble their efforts to identify all suspected cases, bring them into care and prevent transmission to others.

No country can afford the full impact of a sustained restriction of movement on its economy. I am fully aware of the great difficulties experienced especially by those who earn a daily wage such as traders, dayworkers, artisans and manual workers.

For this group, their sustenance depends on their ability to go out. Their livelihoods depend on them mingling with others and about seeking work. But despite these realities we must not change the restrictions.

In the past two weeks, we announced palliative measures such as food distribution, cash transfers and loans repayment waivers to ease the pains of our restrictive policies during this difficult time. These palliatives will be sustained.

I have also directed that the current social register be expanded from 2.6 million households to 3.6 million households in the next two weeks. This means we will support an additional one million homes with our social investment programs. A technical committee is working on this and will submit a report to me by the end of this week.

The Security Agencies have risen to the challenges posed by this unprecedented situation with gallantry and I commend them. I urge them to continue to maintain utmost vigilance, firmness as well as restraint in enforcing the restriction orders while not neglecting statutory security responsibilities.

Fellow Nigerians, follow the instructions on social distancing. The irresponsibility of the few can lead to the death of the many. Your freedom ends where other people’s rights begin. The response of our State Governors has been particularly impressive, especially in aligning their policies and actions to those of the Federal Government.

In the coming weeks, I want to assure you that the Federal Government, through the Presidential Task Force, will do whatever it takes to support you in this very difficult period. I have no doubt that, by working together and carefully following the rules, we shall get over this pandemic.

I must also thank the Legislative arm of Government for all its support and donations in this very difficult period. This collaboration is critical to the short and long-term success of all the measures that we have instituted in response to the pandemic. As a result of this pandemic, the world as we know it has changed. The way we interact with each other, conduct our businesses and trade, travel, educate our children and earn our livelihoods will be different.

To ensure our economy adapts to this new reality, I am directing the Ministers of Industry, Trade and Investment, Communication and Digital Economy, Science and Technology, Transportation, Aviation, Interior, Health, Works and Housing, Labour and Employment and Education to jointly develop a comprehensive policy for a “Nigerian economy functioning with COVID-19”.

The Ministers will be supported by the Presidential Economic Advisory Council and Economic Sustainability Committee in executing this mandate.

I am also directing the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, the National Security Adviser, the Vice Chairman, National Food Security Council and the Chairman, Presidential Fertiliser Initiative to work with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to ensure the impact of this pandemic on our 2020 farming season is minimized.

Finally, I want to thank the members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 for all their hard work so far. Indeed, the patriotism shown in your work is exemplary and highly commendable. Fellow Nigerians, I have no doubt that by working together and carefully following the rules, we shall get over this pandemic and emerge stronger in the end.

I thank you all for listening and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Nigeria’s coronavirus cases rise to 343 with 91 survivors

Nigeria has so far recorded cases of the coronavirus pandemic in nineteen states. Lagos State has the highest number of cases, followed by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Out of the 36 states in Nigeria, the virus has not been recorded in 17 states.

As at 9:30 PM on Monday, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced 20 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria, bringing the total number of Nigerians with the virus to 343, 91 discharged, and 10 people have died from the virus.

Out of the 20 new cases, 13 were recorded in Lagos, 2 in Edo, 2 in Kano, 2 in Ogun and 1 in Ondo. Here’s a break down of cases so far.

Lagos- 189
FCT- 56
Osun- 20
Edo- 14
Oyo- 11
Ogun- 9
Bauchi- 6
Kaduna- 6
Akwa Ibom- 5
Katsina-5
Kwara- 4
Ondo- 3
Delta- 3
Kano- 3
Enugu- 2
Ekiti- 2
Rivers-2
Benue- 1
Niger- 1
Anambra- 1

Six more COVID-19 survivors given the green light in Lagos State

On Monday evening, the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu announced on Twitter that 6 more COVID-19 survivors have been given the green light, bringing the total number of survivors to 61. He wrote

My dear Lagosians,
I bring you more good news of progress in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today, 6 more persons; 1 female and 5 males have been discharged from the IDH, Yaba, after their full recovery and testing negative twice to COVID-19

These additional discharged cases brings the number of patients who have been managed and discharged from our facilities to 61. I appeal to residents to continue to observe the recommended precautionary guidelines of social distancing and a high level of personal hygiene.

President Emmanuel Macron apologises for lockdown extension in France, assures gradual re-opening of institutions as from May 11

PARIS, FRANCE – NOVEMBER 12: French President Emmanuel Macron waits for United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres before their meeting at the Elysee Presidential Palace on November 12, 2018, in Paris, France. Guterres came to France to participate in the international ceremony of the Armistice Centenary of 1918 at the Arc de Triomphe on November 11. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

During a live broadcast, French president, Emmanuel Macron acknowledged the efforts made by people all over the country but said more needed to be done.

“We must, therefore, continue our efforts and continue to apply the rules. The more they are respected, the more they will save lives. That’s why the strictest lockdown must still carry on. Until Monday 11th May. During that period it’s the only way to act effectively”, he said.

Important points from Macron’s address:

  • From Monday, May 11 nurseries, primary and high schools will gradually reopen, but higher education will start up again “not before the summer”
  • Restaurants, cafés, hotels, cinemas and other leisure activities will remain closed after May 11, and there will be no summer festivals “before mid-July”
  • From May 11, France will be able to test anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19
  • From May 11, everyone should be able to get hold of a mask for certain situations such as using public transport, or in the most exposed professions
  • More “massive investment” promised in research and everything being done on treatments

Photo Credit: Kristalina Georgieva (Instagram)

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