Mon, 21 Sep 2020

AU: 'Aggressive, Bold' Action Needed to Combat COVID-19 in Africa

Voice of America
09 Aug 2020, 04:05 GMT+10

The African Union says "aggressive and bold" action is needed to combat the COVID-19 outbreak on the continent.

More than one million cases of the virus have been reported across Africa, but officials such as the World Health Organization's Richard Mihigo warn the real number is likely larger, citing the absence of comprehensive testing in some countries.

Mihigo said in the Congolese capital of Brazzaville Friday that the one million mark in Africa is a "very symbolic milestone that the continent has crossed."

While experts say infections in wealthier countries are also probably significantly undercounted, undetected cases pose a greater danger in Africa because of underdeveloped health care systems in some countries.

In the U.S., where coronavirus infections are approaching 5 million, about one-quarter of all infections worldwide, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report reveals racial disparities in the U.S. coronavirus crisis also extend to children.

Hispanic children were eight times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than white children, and Black children were hospitalized at a rate five times higher, the CDC report found.

Black, Hispanic and Native Americans have been killed and hospitalized by COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates, further uncovering racial inequalities in the U.S. health care system, the CDC said.

In Australia Saturday, Victoria state reported 466 new coronavirus cases and 12 deaths. Victoria is home to more than two-thirds of Australia's almost 21,000 COVID-19 infections. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said six of the deaths were linked to outbreaks at senior citizens facilities.

India reported 933 new COVID-19 deaths over a 24-hour period as infections surged by more than 61,000 to nearly 2.1 million. India has the world's third-highest number of infections after the U.S. and Brazil, where the death toll was expected to reach 100,000 on Saturday.

Despite Brazil's mounting death toll and the fact the pandemic has yet to peak, the country continues to reopen stores and restaurants. President Jair Bolsonaro has downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic and has battled with local officials over lockdown measures.

A steady decline in COVID-19 deaths and infections in Pakistan has prompted the country to allow the full resumption of all international flights in and out of the country on Sunday.

The move comes weeks after the country allowed the resumption of domestic and international commercial flights. Only 14 COVID-19 deaths were reported Saturday, raising Pakistan's death toll to 6,068.

Beginning Saturday in Britain, people are required to wear masks in most indoor settings. In England and Scotland, masks must be worn in places of worship, banks, libraries and in many other indoor places.

Masks were already required in shops and on public transit, but more stringent measures were imposed to contain a surge in coronavirus infections in Britain after easing lockdown requirements.

Travelers arriving in Germany from most non-European countries and regions within the European Union with high infection rates must undergo testing for the coronavirus beginning Saturday. Travelers from high-risk areas were previously required to self-quarantine for 14 days or until they can produce a negative test.

In the U.S. on Friday, as more than 60,000 new COVID-19 infections were reported in the country, the city of Sturgis, South Dakota began welcoming visitors to its annual motorcycle rally. Some 250,000 people are expected this year. The biker event regularly attracts 500,000, but the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to keep some people home.

There are no mask requirements in Sturgis and people have been asked to socially distance, a practice that was not being observed Friday on the town's crowded streets.

Elsewhere in the U.S., a state of Georgia student who was suspended for posting a photograph of a crowded hallway in her school, where many students were not wearing masks will be back in class Monday. School officials were widely criticized for suspending her over the photograph. The student told CNN Friday that she has no regrets about what she did.

Johns Hopkins University says there are 19.4 million reported global COVID-19 cases and more than 721,000 deaths.

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