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Coronavirus surges in Quito after Ecuador eases lockdown | News

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Struggling to breathe, Luis Gualotuna arrived before dawn Wednesday at a coronavirus testing site in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito, which has experienced an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases since the government started to reopen the economy last month.

Hours later, Gualotuna was still in a long line, waiting.

“My throat hurts, my body hurts. I have general discomfort, and I came here to find out if I have COVID. There is nothing left to do but wait,” said Gualotuna, a 34-year-old unemployed carpenter.

The new coronavirus first tore through the port city of Guayaquil in March and April, killing hundreds and horrifying people around the world with scenes of bodies left in the street as authorities struggled to cope with the pandemic. The situation in Guayaquil has since stabilised, but now, hospitals in Quito are filling up and the crematoria at funeral parlours are pushed to keep up with demand.

There have been 82,300 confirmed infections of the new coronavirus in Ecuador and about 5,600 deaths from the disease that it causes, COVID-19. Another 3,353 deaths are believed to be linked to the virus. The country has a population of more than 17 million.

People waiting in line to get COVID-19 tests, outside a health clinic in Quito, Ecuador [AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa] 

Quito has registered 12,747 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 605 deaths. On June 30, it had reported about half as many cases and 464 deaths. The health crisis has been compounded by the relaxation of social distancing measures as Ecuador tries to get its economy moving again, and by the arrival of the seasonal flu.

“The public is very afraid of the slightest respiratory symptom,” said Dr Marco de la Torre, graduate professor at Central University in Quito. “Queries have exploded for fear of COVID-19, although many have the common flu.”

In past days, hundreds of people with breathing problems have been waiting in line to get coronavirus tests at medical attention sites installed by the municipality. Military tents, some hooked up to an oxygen supply, were erected outside some hospitals to serve a growing number of patients.

Ambato, Cuenca, Santo Domingo de los Colorados and some other cities in Ecuador face a similarly difficult situation, said Health Minister Juan Carlos Zevallos. But he said the government was managing the situation and that “they do not compare in any way to what is happening in the rest of Latin America.”

Brazil, Mexico and Peru, among the hardest-hit countries in Latin America, have reported a combined death toll from COVID-19 of about 150,000. The virus has killed more than 660,000 people worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University, which keeps a daily tally. The actual numbers are likely to be higher.

Some Ecuadorians are flouting social distancing protocols, selling items in close proximity in the street, or organising parties and informal sporting events.

Ecuador 3

The Ecuadorian capital has experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases since the government started to reopen the economy last month [AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa] 

There are “pockets of disobedience that can trigger infections at a time when we need more control,” although most people comply with the guidelines, said government minister Maria Paula Romo.

For now, many in Quito are waiting – for a better economy, for coronavirus test results, for news of hospitalised relatives.

Marcos De la Cruz stood outside a state hospital in southern Quito on Wednesday. Inside was his brother-in-law, 37-year-old Eddy Rodriguez.

“He can no longer walk, we must hold him from both sides, and he tested positive for COVID,” said De la Cruz, his voice breaking with emotion. “We do not know what will happen.”



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded

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The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      





Source – observer.ug

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19

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Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  





Source – observer.ug

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Museveni issues ultimatum to police boss

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Museveni flagged off distribution of motorcycles for NRM chairpersons

President Yoweri Museveni has given Inspector General of Police (IGP) Martins Okoth Ochola a chilling ultimatum: You either do your work or I will do it myself!

Museveni disclosed the ultimatum he gave to the IGP today Monday at the NRM secretariat at Plot 10 Kyadondo Road in Kampala where he was flagging off the distribution of motorcycles to parish chairpersons of the ruling National Resistance Movement party across the country. 

“I told the IGP that if the police doesn’t do their work, I will do it myself by arresting the police officers themselves,” Museveni stunned his audience as he commented on the electoral violence that marred the NRM primaries held on Friday last week. At least 4 people were killed across the country during the primaries. 

“There was violence in Bukono county [Namutumba district] where people were beaten. I got information that police has not done much work. Some (policemen) have been arrested and given police bond; there is no police bond for somebody who has attacked Ugandans!,” Museveni added. 

Museveni vowed to deal with all persons who messed up the party primaries.  In some parts of the country, there were massive regularities where candidates who had been defeated ended up being announced winners. In some places like Namutumba, Isingiro, Ntungamo, Jinja, Katakwi, among others, there was violence that led to the killing and wounding of civilians. Museveni said that they are going to make sure that all those who participated in these irregularities and violence are held to account. 

Museveni said although the violence was orchestrated by the politicians, the police personnel are to be held accountable for failing to contain it.

Last week, police spokesman Fred Enanga warned police personnel especially those guarding VIPs against being drawn into the politicians’ political wrangles, reminding them that they would face the music if they did. With the president now threatening to go and conduct the arrests of errant policemen himself, IGP Ochola is likely to move fast to avert the spectacle. 

Museveni wondered why police would shoot at unarmed people who were fighting amongst themselves: “That policeman must be arrested; even the ones who are threatening people you will go to jail for that if we get evidence,” a seemingly incensed Museveni said.

He also said that the state minister of Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana who was captured on camera attempting to shoot people over the weekend in Ntugamo after he lost the  Rushenyi primaries, will be charged with threatening violence and attempted murder. 

 “This game is finished,” Museveni said.

Rukatana has since been charged and remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district in western Uganda. Museveni called upon all those dissatisfied with the election results to write petitions to the regional panels of elders which he said are going to be constituted to hear all election complaints.

“We are going to get three respected people who are not part of the struggles, then we shall go and audit village per village and we shall discover. If you have committed forgery, the registrar or the politician who ordered,  you all shall go to jail. The game is finished; the voting is by lining and if you miss-add, you are ‘miss-add’ yourself,” Museveni said.

Museveni’s speech came shortly before that of Justine Kasule Lumumba, the secretary general of the NRM who called upon the president to reign over some senior people who with impunity were freely changing the results of the elections.

“Some of our staff were lured into changing declaration forms on the way forgetting that people who had participated at the village don’t need to write; they registered the record in their faces…Some have done things with impunity… in Butemba county Kyakwanzi district, one of the candidates who got 3,000 votes brought in soldiers, cordoned off that place and was declared a winner and off they went away,” Lumumba said. 

The ball is now in Ochola’s court to get the police to execute their duties professionally and with impartiality. In March 2017, President Museveni warned Ochola’s predecessor Kale Kayihura to clean the police force of wrong elements. As months passed with no visible sign of police officers shaping up, Museveni resorted to other security agencies who started arresting rogue senior police officers and charging them in the military court for various crimes.

Kayihura was then removed from office, arrested and jointly charged with the errant officers in the army court. To avoid similar fate, Ochola is likely to use a firmer hand on the police officers so that by the time of the February 2021 elections, there is no laxity in the force’s execution of its mandate to maintain law and order.





Source – observer.ug

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