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Outcry in US over U-turn on coronavirus close contact testing | US & Canada News

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Health experts and some politicians in the US have expressed alarm at a sudden reversal to testing guidance for close contacts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prompting suspicions of political pressure on the agency.

The CDC now says that close contacts of people diagnosed with COVID-19 might not need to be tested if they do not have symptoms. Previously, the agency had recommended testing for all close contacts of people diagnosed with COVID-19.

Admiral Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), said the goal was “appropriate testing” and not more testing, and that there was no political pressure from the administration behind the decision.

CNN and The New York Times reported on Wednesday that US public health officials were ordered by high-level members of the Trump administration to go ahead with the changes.

“This was a product produced by the scientific and medical people that was discussed extensively at the task force,” said Giroir. The task force is led by Vice President Mike Pence.

While those with exposure are recommended to self-isolate, the president of the American Medical Association, the largest US association of physicians, said the advice could accelerate the spread of the virus.

“Suggesting that people without symptoms, who have known exposure to COVID-positive individuals, do not need testing is a recipe for community spread and more spikes in coronavirus,” AMA President Susan Bailey said in a statement.

Health experts also warned that the move could hurt contact tracing efforts to prevent virus spread.

New York, California to defy order

Anthony Fauci, the top US government infectious disease expert and member of the coronavirus task force, told CNN he had been undergoing surgery when the change was discussed, and was concerned about the move.

“I am concerned about the interpretation of these recommendations and worried it will give people the incorrect assumption that asymptomatic spread is not of great concern. In fact, it is,” he said.

The Trump administration has been criticised for its handling of COVID-19 testing, with many states falling short of the volume needed to help contain the virus during major outbreaks.

Trump told a rally in June testing was a “double-edged” sword, claiming it leads to more cases being discovered and making the US appear worse off than it would otherwise.

He added that he urged officials to “slow the testing down, please.” A White House official at the time told Reuters the remark was a joke.

A task force led by Vice President Mike Pence had reportedly recommended that people exposed to COVID-19 but not symptomatic may not need to be tested [File: Justin Lane/EPA]

The latest US count showed that the country has diagnosed 5.8 million cases of COVID-19 and nearly 180,000 people have died. Almost 2.1 million have recovered.

On Wednesday, California announced a deal with diagnostics firm PerkinElmer to nearly double the state’s testing capacity.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also quickly challenged the assertion that politics played no role in the change.

“We need public health people who do public health and not politics, and we’re going to disregard the CDC guidance totally,” he told MSNBC.

In a separate interview with the Financial Times, Cuomo said the only “plausible rationale” for the CDC move was that the government wanted fewer people taking tests, as expressed by Trump.

Giroir had said that tests of asymptomatic people conducted too early to accurately detect the virus can lead to a false sense of security and potentially help spread the virus.

SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Another blow as Judge throws out Kiggundu’s lawyer Muwema

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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.

Background

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

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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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