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Severe or fatal COVID-19 rare in children, UK study finds – Live | News



  • Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, announced that a team of international experts will travel to the Chinese city of Wuhan to begin a study into the origin of the coronavirus.

  • Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s John Nkengasong said 23 of Africa’s 54 countries have reported a sustained decrease in new confirmed coronavirus cases in the past couple of weeks.

  • South Korea reports the highest number of daily coronavirus cases since March, and parliament was forced to close amid expectations that authorities will impose tougher restrictions.
  • More than 24.3 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, and 15.8 million have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 828,000 people have died.

Here are the latest updates:

Friday, August 28

01:01 GMT – Australia’s Victoria reports steady rise in cases

Australia’s second most populous state – the epicentre of the country’s latest COVID-19 outbreak – said it detected 113 new cases in the past 24 hours, a number that remained unchanged from the previous day.

Strict lockdown measures have helped ease the daily rise of COVID-19 infections in Victoria after the state hit a one-day high of more than 700 cases about three weeks ago.

Australia has now recorded nearly 25,500 COVID-19 infections nationwide, while the death toll rose to 584 after 12 people died in Victoria.

COVID-19 wreaks havoc on Australia wool industry (2:30)

00:54 GMT – Buenos Aires to allow relatives attend patient deaths

Health workers in the Argentine capital will be instructed to allow family members to maintain a bedside vigil for dying COVID-19 patients under a new law approved on Thursday.

“In much of the world, the coronavirus has been defined as the disease of loneliness. There are many cases where people said their loved ones died because they felt alone,” said Facundo Del Gaiso, the city congressman who introduced the bill.

The measure allows one family member, between the ages of 18 and 60, to keep vigil with the dying patient, with the exception of pregnant women or people with medical conditions.

00:31 GMT – Severe or fatal COVID-19 very rare in children, study finds

Children and young people are far less likely than adults to get severe cases of COVID-19 infection, and death from the disease among children is exceptionally rare, according to research published in the British Medical Journal.

A study of COVID-19 patients admitted to 138 hospitals in the United Kingdom between January 17 and July 13 found that less than 1 percent were children, and of those fewer than 1 percent – or six in total – died, all of whom were already suffering serious illness or underlying health disorders.

“We can be quite sure that COVID in itself is not causing harm to children on a significant scale,” said Malcolm Semple, a professor of outbreak medicine and child health at the University of Liverpool, who co-led the work.

THE BOTTOM LINE | How did reopening schools become a political issue in the US? (24:52)

“The highest-level message really has to be that (in children with COVID-19) severe disease is rare, and death is vanishingly rare – and that (parents) should be comforted that their children are not at direct harm by going back into school,” he told a briefing.

While the overall risk of children getting severe COVID is “tiny”, the researchers said, children of Black ethnicity and those with obesity are disproportionately affected, as previous studies in adults have found.

00:18 GMT – Latin America’s coronavirus cases pass 7 million

Coronavirus cases passed the 7 million mark in Latin America, according to a Reuters tally, even as some countries begin to show a slight decline in infections in the region with the world’s highest level of contagion.

The daily average of cases fell to about 77,800 in the last seven days through Wednesday, against almost 85,000 the previous week, the tally based on government figures showed.

Latin America’s increase from 6 million to 7 million occurred in 13 days, two more than the previous million mark.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives. 

For all the key developments from yesterday, August 27, go here

Al Jazeera and news agencies

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Taking a knee, lifting fist to be punished at Tokyo 2020 Olympics | Black Lives Matter News




Against the backdrop of the BLM movement protesting racial injustice, calls increased for change to IOC rule.

Taking a knee during the Tokyo Olympics or lifting a fist in support of racial equality will be punished as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) maintained its ban on athletes’ protests inside stadiums, at ceremonies and on podiums.

The IOC’s Rule 50 forbids any kind of “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda” in venues and any other Olympic area and the Games body concluded the rule should be maintained following an athlete consultation.

Against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement against racial injustice, calls have increased in recent months for a change to that rule that would allow athletes to protest.

Some international federation chiefs, including World Athletics’ President Sebastian Coe, have said athletes should have the right to make gestures of political protest during the Games.

The IOC’s Athletes’ Commission chief Kirsty Coventry, who led a review of the rule, said 70 percent of the athletes consulted were against any protests within the fields of play or the podiums.

“I would not want something to distract from my competition and take away from that. That is how I still feel today,” Coventry, a former Olympic swimming champion for Zimbabwe, said in an online presentation of the Rule 50 consultation results.

Coventry said there were a series of recommendations approved by the IOC’s Executive Board on Wednesday, including providing clarity on sanctions, more information about Rule 50, a change of wording of the Olympic Oath with messages on inclusion, and producing athlete apparel with inclusive messaging.

The IOC’s recommendations are the result of a consultation process that started in June 2020 and involved more than 3,500 athletes.

The Tokyo Olympics, delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, kicks off on July 23.

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Terego headteacher arrested over defiling own daughter




The headteacher of Yole primary school in Tergo district, northern Uganda has been arrested on allegations of defiling and battering his own daughter. 

Tom Amayo was arrested on Tuesday by officers from Katrini police post following a tip-off by the victim’s uncles where she had sought refuge. 

According to preliminary police findings, the suspect committed the offence several times at his residence in the staff quarters where has been living with the victim. Agnes Anyu, the Terego district police commander, says that they have charged the suspect rape, defilement and torture.

Geoffrey Aziz, a member of Yole primary school management committee told URN that they are in the process of holding an emergency meeting following the arrest of the headteacher to forge away forward to allow the school to run normally. 

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It’s time for the World Bank to scrap its Doing Business rankings | Coronavirus pandemic News




On March 29, at a virtual meeting hosted by the London School of Economics before the 2021 World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings, World Bank President David Malpass called for long-term, integrated strategies that emphasise “green, inclusive and resilient development” to tackle what he calls the COVID-19 “pandemic of inequality”. Underlining the importance of helping countries improve their readiness for future pandemics through policies supporting sustainable development, he urged policymakers to avoid repeating the “errors of the past”.

World Bank representatives reiterated the same discourse at the Spring Meetings and last week’s UN Financing for Development Forum. Yet, one of the Bank’s most powerful policy advice tools, the Doing Business rankings, continues to produce skewed policy prescriptions that obstruct developing countries’ pandemic recovery efforts and constrain their resilience to future crises.

For 17 years, political leaders and policymakers around the world have peered anxiously over the Bank’s annual Doing Business report. The Bank’s flagship publication ranks 190 economies on how easy and cheap it is for companies to do business there. The fewer regulations, the higher a country scores on the Doing Business index, increasing its chances of attracting foreign investment. According to the Bank, this leads to economic growth with trickle-down benefits to the population.

The report was launched in 2004 as the new face of the much-criticised Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs), which were rooted in the idea that deregulation and privatisation encourage investment and boosts development and economic growth. There is now ample evidence of the negative consequences of SAPs, which were widely implemented through World Bank and International Monetary Fund loans in the 1980s and 90s. Although some of the Bank’s loan conditionalities have evolved with time, the same ideological preferences continue to be promoted under the Doing Business rankings to this day.

With the Doing Business index, the Bank made itself both the referee and the rule maker of its global benchmarking and investor-friendly policy reforms exercise. Governments that want to signal to the world that they are open for international business race each other to cut red tape and win a place on the Bank’s “top ten improvers” list. But this regulatory race to the bottom erodes worker and environmental protections in the meantime. The reports’ recommendations have concrete effects on shaping policy in developing countries.

Policies rewarded in the rankings include cutting corporate income taxes and contributions to employees’ retirement schemes in India; reducing social tax rates in Hungary and Kazakhstan, and completely abolishing social security contributions in Georgia.

Meanwhile, the Doing Business report discourages welfare and environmental protection. Bolivia and Trinidad and Tobago got a lower mark for raising social security contribution rates for employers, while Guatemala increased its score by relaxing requirements for environmental impact assessments and Vietnam gained points for scrapping environmental protection fees. Some countries, such as India and Indonesia, design national reforms with the sole intention of climbing up the rankings. Rwanda has an entire ministry devoted to this purpose.

India’s new laws to deregulate agricultural markets show how far governments can go to protect private investors’ interests and follow the World Bank’s policy prescriptions. Legal reforms which will affect 800 million Indians whose livelihoods depend on farming passed with no public debate. The largest ever farmer protests in response to it were met with paramilitary violence, arbitrary arrests and internet shutdowns.

The 2020 enactment of the Omnibus Law in Indonesia is another example of a package of reforms explicitly designed to help a country climb on the Doing Business ranking. Though the bill faced massive pushback from labour unions and social movements for its effects on workers’ rights and the environment, it received the World Bank’s unconditional endorsement.

A 2019 Cambridge University study clearly illustrated the outsized influence the Doing Business rankings have on investors. In an experiment, the researchers provided a group of investors with various economic and political indicators for a set of countries. They found that even when most other indicators looked positive, a low ranking on the Doing Business index caused investors to refrain from investing in a country. This finding begs the question: should the World Bank promote a deregulation blueprint that disproportionately serves firms with headquarters in the rich countries that govern it, at the expense of worker rights and climate and ecological sustainability in many developing countries?

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, in her push for increasing corporate taxation, recently stated that competitiveness “is about making sure that governments have stable tax systems that raise sufficient revenue to invest in essential public goods and respond to crises”. And yet this is exactly what the World Bank, whose largest shareholder is the US, makes impossible to attain through the Doing Business recipe for attracting private investments.

Privatisation, outsourcing, and budget cuts have already undermined the capacities of countries to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. And inequality-boosting policies encouraged by the World Bank will continue to be harmful in the post-pandemic world. The erosion of social safety nets, deemed “burdensome” and “costly” by the Bank’s metrics, have affected 2.7 billion people facing unemployment and income loss.

Since its inception, the Doing Business index has been criticised by civil society organisations, academics, trade unions and the World Bank’s chief economist and an independent panel of experts.

In August 2020, the Bank was forced to suspend the publication due to “a number of irregularities”. An internal investigation concluded that undue pressure by Bank management over the Doing Business team to manipulate data in 2017 and 2019 led to altered results for Azerbaijan, China, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. An external panel has been tasked to undertake a comprehensive review of the Doing Business methodology, but the process so far has lacked transparency and accountability, with limited consultation with civil society.

As the Bank prepares to launch its Doing Business report for 2021, more than 360 civil society organisations, academics, former UN staff and independent experts from 80 countries have signed an open letter calling for an end to the Doing Business rankings and reports. If the World Bank is serious about building a resilient and inclusive recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, it is time it aligns its discourse with its actions. Ditching the harmful Doing Business rankings would be a good place to start.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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