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India coronavirus deaths pass Italy’s as floods hamper battle | India News



India’s coronavirus death toll has passed 35,000, overtaking that of Italy, as floods affecting millions and killing almost 350 hamper the battle against the pandemic.

With 779 deaths in 24 hours, the health ministry on Friday put the number of total fatalities at 35,743 – the world’s fifth-highest tally behind the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom and Mexico, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Total infections in the world’s second-most populous country stand now at 1.63 million, surpassed only by the US and Brazil, both of which have much smaller populations.

But many experts have cast doubt on India’s official numbers, saying authorities are not testing enough people and many coronavirus-linked deaths are not properly recorded.

“Serological surveys that are being done around the country for antibodies are showing the real number of cases in India are much higher than the confirmed number,” said Al Jazeera’s Elizabeth Puranam, reporting from the capital, New Delhi.

Puranam said Mumbai – home to 20 million people and the capital of India’s worst-hit state, Maharashtra – serological surveys showed “nearly 60 percent of people have had the virus”.

Last week, a study indicated that almost a quarter of people in New Delhi have had the virus – nearly 40 times the official total.

Puranam also said authorities on Thursday tested more than 600,000 people, the country’s highest daily record yet, and are aiming to increase testing to about one million people a day.

Floods making it harder

Meanwhile, floods caused by annual monsoon rains in eastern and northeastern India that have displaced tens of thousands of people have been hampering efforts to stop the coronavirus spreading.

Floods have swamped large parts of the densely populated Bihar state and affected nearly four million people by Friday, stymieing the response to the pandemic.

The floods have killed at least 24 people in the state, where the downpours have submerged thousands of villages in 12 districts and further strained the already fragile healthcare system.

A partially submerged government building is seen in a flooded area in Bhagalpur district in the eastern state of Bihar, India [Stringer/Reuters]

More than 300,000 villagers have been evacuated to relief camps and officials warned of additional heavy rain in the next two days.

Bihar, one of the country’s poorest states whose primary healthcare system has long suffered from neglect, faces annual perennial flooding by the rivers originating from neighbouring Nepal that affects millions.

Doctors and experts, however, say the bigger worry this year is the rapidly spreading coronavirus – so far, the state has recorded 48,197 cases including 282 deaths.

That is a far lower death toll compared with other densely populated states that are witnessing a sharp rise in infections, but with experts warning of multiple peaks ahead, Bihar could be facing an uphill task to halt the virus spread.

“Unless the state government acts on the lines of Delhi government where hotels were turned into extended hospitals and emphasis was laid on testing, the situation would go beyond control,” said Sunil Kumar, a senior health expert in Bihar.

Kumar said the situation could turn critical because social distancing norms were hardly followed in the flooded districts.

“How can you expect flood-ravaged people taking shelter on highways and embankments to wear masks and maintain social distancing?” added Kumar, noting that the state did not have the human resources to deal with a pandemic.

Al Jazeera and news agencies

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Another blow as Judge throws out Kiggundu’s lawyer Muwema



When court sat on Friday to hear the Kiggundu’s application to stop independent audit, he did not have a written application, and Justice Henry Adonyo instead ordered the plaintiff’s lawyer Fred Muwema to go make a written application seeking court to dismiss the audit and return to court on September 30 for a hearing of the application. But this adds more pressure on Kiggundu who is choking with the loans.

On 31 August, the judge ordered the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) to carry out and independent audit into the accounts of the businessman and financial statements exchanged between the two parties, and present a report to court.

When asked by journalists why he has filed for an application seeking dismissal of the audit, Fred Muwema had this to say. “We are saying that let the validity and legality of those credit facilities (loans) be decided first before you can audit” He said.

The ruling on the application of the main suit to determine whether the businessman owes loan arrears to the bank is set for 5th October 2020, after which a date for hearing of the case will be set.


Hamis Kiggundu through his companies Ham enterprises and Kiggs International (U) ltd sued DTB branches in Kenya and Uganda for deducting money from his accounts something which the bank contends and said they only acted as per the loan agreement of deducting 30% from Kiggundu’s accounts to recover the credit facilities rendered to him between February 2011 and September 2016

But Court documents filed by the bank in their defense shows that Kiggundu, between February 2011 and September 2016, was granted various credit facilities by the said DTB Banks.

First, via Ham Enterprises Limited, Kiggundu obtained a loan of $6,663,453 and another Sh2.5bn from the DTB (U) to finance his projects in the real estate business.

Later, according to New Vision, he got a facility worth $4.5m through Kiggs International (U) Limited from DTB (K) and mortgaged his properties, which include Plot 328 located at Kawuku on Block 248 Kyadondo, three plots that include 36, 37 and 38 on Folio 1533 Victoria Crescent II situated in Kyadondo and land on Makerere Hill Road on LRV 3716 Folio 10 Plot 923 Block 9.

Documents show that as of January 21, 2020, Kiggundu was in default on payment obligations of $6.298m on the loan facility of $6.663m, as well as sh2.885b on the demand overdraft facility of sh1.5b and the temporary demand overdraft facility of sh1b.

The banks say that Kiggundu was in default on the payment of another $3.662m out of a total loan facility of $4m and another $458,604 on a loan facility of $500,000, as of January 21, 2020.

The DTB consequently served him with a demand notice to either pay up or lose the assets that he submitted as collateral security. The bank threatened to attach a plot on Makerere Hill Road and other prime commercial properties.

Analysts says that Kiggundu’s lawyer is playing delaying tactics aimed at stopping the independent audit as ordered by the court earlier. Kiggundu had wanted court to believe his own audit of loan transactions, but that would amount to injustice to the banks that gave him money-DTB Uganda and DTB Kenya.

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded




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.      

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19




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.  

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