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As US deaths mount, coronavirus takes outsized toll on minorities | News

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As many as 215,000 more people than usual died in the United States during the first seven months of 2020, suggesting that the number of lives lost to the coronavirus is significantly higher than the official toll. And half the dead were people of colour – Black Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and, to a marked degree unrecognised until now, Asian Americans.

The new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlight a stark disparity: deaths among minorities during the crisis have risen far more than they have among white people.

As of the end of July, the official death toll in the US from COVID-19 was about 150,000. It has since grown to more than 170,000.

But public health authorities have long known that some coronavirus deaths, especially early on, were mistakenly attributed to other causes, and that the crisis may have led indirectly to the loss of many other lives by preventing or discouraging people with other serious ailments from seeking treatment.

Charlton Rhee, whose parents came to the US from South Korea, lost both of them to COVID-19 this spring as the virus surged in New York City [AP Photo/Marshall Ritzel]  

Disproportionate burden

A count of deaths from all causes during the seven-month period yields what experts believe is a fuller – and more alarming – picture of the disaster and its racial dimensions.

People of colour make up just under 40 percent of the US population but accounted for approximately 52 percent of all the “excess deaths” above normal through July, according to an analysis by The Associated Press and The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organisation covering the criminal justice system.

“The toll of the pandemic shows just how pervasive structural racism is,” said Olugbenga Ajilore, senior economist at the Center for American Progress, a public policy organisation in Washington.

Earlier data on cases, hospitalisations and deaths revealed an especially heavy toll on Black, Hispanic and Native Americans, a disparity attributed to unequal access to healthcare and economic opportunities. But the increases in total deaths by race were not reported until now; nor was the disproportionate burden on Asian Americans.

With this new data, Asian Americans join Black Americans and Hispanics among the hardest-hit communities, with deaths in each group up at least 30 percent this year compared with the average over the last five years, the analysis found. Deaths among Native Americans rose more than 20 percent, though that is probably a severe undercount because of a lack of data. Deaths among whites were up 9 percent.

The toll on Asian Americans has received far less attention, perhaps in part because the numbers who have died – about 14,000 more than normal this year – have been far lower than among several other groups. Still, the 35 percent increase in Asian American deaths is the second highest, behind Hispanic Americans.

In an average year, somewhere around 1.7 million people die in the United States between January and the end of July. This year the figure was about 1.9 million, according to the CDC.

Of the possible 215,000 additional deaths above normal through July – a total that has since risen to as many as 235,000 – most were officially attributed to coronavirus infections. The rest were blamed on other causes, including heart disease, high blood pressure and other types of respiratory diseases.

The CDC has not yet provided a breakdown by race and ethnicity of the deaths from other causes. The newly released data is considered provisional and subject to change as more information comes in. Certain categories of deaths – suicides or drug overdoses, for example – often involve lengthy investigations before a cause is assigned.

The outbreak’s disproportionate effect on communities of colour is not limited to a specific region of the country.

The virus first hit urban areas on the east and west coasts. But according to University of Minnesota researcher Carrie Henning-Smith, disparities have also been seen as the disease spread across the country to southern and western states with large rural populations.

For example, Arizona reported almost 60 percent more Native American deaths so far this year compared with previous years, and New Mexico recorded at least 40 percent more. Between the two states, at least 1,100 more Native Americans have died than normal.

Asian Americans have ‘suffered greatly’

Another surprise: Only about half of the Asian American deaths have been officially linked to COVID-19, lower than for all other groups. Jarvis Chen, a lecturer at Harvard University’s public health school, said Asian Americans may not be getting tested at the same rate as other groups, for reasons that are unclear, and that could result in some virus deaths being attributed to something else.

Native American Activists Celebrate Decision To Mark Columbus Day In LA County As Indigenous Peoples Day Starting 2019

Arizona reported almost 60 percent more Native American deaths so far this year compared with previous years, and New Mexico recorded at least 40 percent more [File: David McNew/Getty Images]

Dr Namratha Kandula of Northwestern University echoed that theory. She also cautioned against generalising about the underlying health of Asian Americans as a whole, noting that they are a diverse group from many different nations and cultures.

“It’s not enough to clump them all together because it does not tell the whole story,” she said.

Charlton Rhee, whose parents came to the US from South Korea, lost both of them to COVID-19 this spring as the virus surged in New York City.

His mother, Eulja Rhee, went out one day, and when she returned, “she told me someone had coughed in her face” as she was getting off a bus, said Rhee, a nursing home administrator in Queens. “She was wearing a mask, but it got into her eyes.”

She died in hospital, just shy of her 75th birthday.

Rhee found out a day later that his father, Man Joon Rhee, had tested positive. “He had caught it from my mother,” he said. “His heart was broken. And he said to me that he wanted to know if it was OK to be with Mom.”

He stayed home, receiving hospice care, and died at 83.

“The Asian American community has suffered greatly during this,” and government officials provided little help, especially initially, Rhee said. Community associations had to step in with food drives, personal protective equipment and other help.

Income, housing and health inequality

Racial disparities in deaths predate COVID-19, and many forces combine to produce them.

Some communities of colour are more likely to have lower incomes and to share living spaces with larger families, increasing the risk of transmission. They have higher rates of health problems, including diabetes, obesity and lung ailments, the result of living in places where healthier foods are harder to get and the environment is polluted. Those same factors can make them more likely to become severely ill or die from the coronavirus.

They are more often uninsured and tend to live farther from hospitals. They are disproportionately incarcerated, which has been linked to long-term effects on health.

Experts point to a long history of discrimination that causes distrust of the healthcare system. And people of colour are more likely to fill essential roles that require them to keep going to work during the pandemic.

Dr Sobiya Ansari, who works predominantly with Black immigrant cancer patients in New York City, worries when they miss or postpone radiation or screenings. Already, the city has seen double the number of Black deaths this year compared with previous years.

“If a storm hits and you’re safe inside your house, you’re safe,” she said. “Then there is a population of people that don’t even have umbrellas. The storm hits and they’re just really swept away.”



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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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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