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Coronavirus: South Africa eases lockdown as ‘outbreak reaches peak’

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President Cyril Ramaphosa warned against complacency despite “signs of hope”

South Africa’s president has said coronavirus infections appear to have peaked in the country, as he announced a sweeping relaxation of lockdown measures.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said nearly all restrictions on the country’s economy will be eased from Monday.

A controversial ban on the sale of alcohol and tobacco will be lifted.

Domestic travel, small family gatherings and the reopening of businesses will all be allowed.

In a TV address on Saturday, Mr Ramaphosa said the easing of restrictions will help to revive the country’s flagging economy after a period of great hardship for the country.

However, he called on South Africans not to let their guard down against Covid-19 despite “signs of hope”, warning of difficult times ahead.

The country has recorded more than half of Africa’s coronavirus infections, with more than 570,000 cases and 11,500 deaths to date.

South Africa also has the fifth-highest number of cases in the world after the US, Brazil, Russia and India, but infections have started to dip in recent days.

Mr Ramaphosa said the number of new daily confirmed cases had dropped from a peak of more than 12,000 to an average of 5,000 over the past week.

The number of active cases has declined to about 105,000 and the recovery rate risen to 80%, the president said.

“As we look back at the past five months, all indications are the South Africa has reached the peak and moved beyond the inflection point of the curve,” Mr Ramaphosa said.

How has South Africa handled its coronavirus outbreak?

In March, the South African government introduced some of the toughest lockdown restrictions in the world. Borders were shut to international travellers, schools were closed, alcohol was banned and people were told to stay at home.

Those measures were credited with slowing the initial spread of Covid-19, giving the health sector valuable time to prepare for more patients.

Meanwhile, the economy faltered as businesses struggled to stay afloat during lockdown.

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Media captionCoronavirus in South Africa: A day in the life of a contact tracer

To ease the economic pain, the government began a gradual reopening in June, but restrictions were reintroduced last month as infection rates began to rise again. A state of emergency was declared effective until 15 August.

A large proportion of South Africa’s coronavirus infections have been reported in Gauteng, the country’s financial hub.

The influx of patients has put an incredible strain on South Africa’s hospitals. A BBC investigation found an array of systematic failures that had exhausted healthcare professionals and brought the health service in some areas near to collapse.

A big moment for South Africa

This is a big moment for South Africa.

Praising his government’s response to the pandemic, President Ramaphosa spoke of a new phase, and signs of hope.

And he has a point. The official death toll here is 11,000. But a quick, aggressive response has enabled most hospitals and provinces to contain an outbreak many feared would overwhelm the nation.

The economic price has been devastating, though. President Ramaphosa spoke of hardship and hunger for millions, and warned it would take years to rebuild the economy.

There are still big concerns about a second wave of infections, which, Mr Ramphosa warned, could be worse than the first.

But many South Africans – still sporting face masks in public – will be relieved that the lockdown is easing.

What lockdown restrictions have been lifted?

Mr Ramaphosa said, as of midnight on 17 August, South Africa will move to level two of its five-stage coronavirus alert system.

“The move to level two means that we can remove nearly all of the restrictions on the resumption of economic activity across most industries,” Mr Ramaphosa said.

Mr Ramaphosa said his government would end the ban on the sale of alcohol and tobacco.

Daily confirmed coronavirus cases

South Africa – March to August

Alcohol sales were prohibited to ease pressure on hospitals, and tobacco products were restricted due to the risk of spreading Covid-19 via the sharing of cigarettes. The restrictions were unpopular, with bar and restaurant owners protesting against the ban on selling alcohol.

Mr Ramaphosa said travel between provinces will now be allowed, but restrictions on international arrivals will remain in place.

He said other restrictions will remain in force as well, including a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people and crowds at sporting events.



Source – www.bbc.co.uk

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million

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Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe

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A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.



Source – observer.ug

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News

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Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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