Nigeria Health Officials Prepare for Possible Outbreak After 1st Coronavirus Case Confirmed

Nigerian Health authorities  are preparing to handle any possible outbreak and urge citizens to remain calm.
“We have enough reagents to do the checking now, there are four laboratories in Nigeria that can test for this particular virus,” Health Minister Emmanuel Osagie said. “We also have a system for sample transport, so samples can be taken from somewhere and transported to a testing center within a few hours. So that is part of the network that we have prepared.”The effort comes as officials confirmed the country’s  first case of the coronavirus.  Nigerian health authorities say the patient is a man from Italy — a country hit hard by the virus — who works in Nigeria and returned from the Italian city of Milan to Nigeria’s economic hub, Lagos, days ago.This makes Nigeria the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to record a case of the virus, which is blamed for more than 2,800 deaths worldwide.Sorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
download this video to view it offline. Embed” />CopyHealth minister Osagie says they’re working with airline officials to identify other passengers who may have had contact with the infected patient, in order to prevent further spread.
“We are going to get the manifest and then do a contact tracing and find all the people who were there.” Osagie said.  “Usually we get their numbers and addresses and monitor them. We are not going to assume that all of them are OK or will fall sick, but advise anyone who has any symptoms to report and be monitored.”The coronavirus was first reported in Wuhan, China, in December.A recent assessment by the World Health Organization named Nigeria as one of 12 countries in Africa at high risk of the coronavirus threat, because of the high level of travel and trade between the West African country and China.A man wearing face mask walks at the Yaba Mainland hospital where an Italian citizen who entered Nigeria on Tuesday from Milan on a business trip, the first case of the COVID-19 virus is being treated in Lagos Nigeria, Feb. 28, 2020.At an Abuja public briefing, WHO Health official  Dr. Clement Peter, admitted that the coronavirus issue is serious and challenging to contain.
“Indeed globally, the sounding from WHO is very clear,” he said. “We don’t know how this outbreak is going to go. While things should be stabilizing in China gradually, many countries are getting cases that have no link to China.”
The coronavirus has killed more than 2,800 people, and infected more than 83,000 in over 50 countries.Nigerian health officials are hoping that no other cases turn up in Lagos, one of the largest and most densely populated cities in the world. 

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Nigeria Confirms First Coronavirus Case as Africa Braces for Pandemic

Nigerian officials have confirmed a case of coronavirus in the country, the first confirmed case in sub-Saharan Africa. Africa is braced for a potential coronavirus pandemic as experts warn health systems on the continent could be overwhelmed.  However, experts say the apparent delay in the virus reaching Africa has given health officials precious time to prepare, as Henry Ridgwell reports.

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Which Coronavirus Reports Are Fake? Ask These Fact Checkers

It’s easy to jump online and find reports saying onions in the home can ward off the coronavirus that has hobbled much of Asia this month or see videos saying hordes of bats living in China spread the disease. Some say Taiwan’s outbreak of COVID-19 has spiraled out of control, though the government reports just 32 isolated cases.A young nonprofit organization in Taipei has looked into 50 virus-related news items to determine which are fakes. Its staff of five, equipped with internet apps and their own media backgrounds, specializes in knowing truth from untruth in Chinese-language media, including social.More than 90% of the virus stories they investigated are false, said Summer Chen, chief editor of the organization called Taiwan FactCheck Center.They found rumors. There were squibs with commercial motives. There were Chinese-planted reports that make Taiwan look bad, Chen said. The two sides are political rivals.”Of course, some are out to make political attacks like the government, and over the past few days we’ve been hit by internet trolls,” Chen, a former newspaper journalist, said in an interview Friday.Fake news in the makingShortly before Taiwanese picked a president Jan. 11, someone used social media to say the coronavirus was already spreading and advised wearing face masks to polling stations, then washing their hands later in case of germs, Chen said. Someone came out this month on social media to advise rubbing sesame oil under the nose to stop the coronavirus spread, she added.Two media-linked associations started the Taiwan FactCheck Center, and at first it was just investigating two reports per week, either from conventional media or from online. It’s recognized by the International Fact-Checking Network and belongs to a Facebook fact-checking platform.Now they get five reports a day, a surge that started during Taiwan’s sometimes vicious presidential election campaign.After the election, “we hadn’t even taken a breath and we started working on Wuhan pneumonia,” Chen said, using a local slang term for the novel coronavirus.People wear face masks to protect against the coronavirus, in Taipei, Taiwan, Feb. 26, 2020.Before the vote, Taiwan’s government and political figures had talked up Taiwan FactCheck Center as a way for people to vet news they wonder about. The center accepts reports from anyone outside government or politics.”Anybody can send any kind of information,” Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told foreign media reporters at a January 9 news briefing. “We send it to the FactCheck center and can get clarification whether this news is true or false.”Taiwan FactCheck Center staffers don’t go after the source of fake news but look as far upstream as they can to match content with its origins. The bat video turned out to be from the United States, not China, for example, Chen said.They can use Google Maps to know whether people really are where they say they are. A mobile reverse imaging app determines where photos might have originated. Results of the checks go on the center’s webpage and its Facebook page. About 10,00 people read each posted verdict.Pent-up demand for fact-checkingSome 226 organizations in 73 countries specialize in fact-checking, Duke University’s Duke Reporters’ Lab found last year. But relatively few monitor Chinese-language media in East Asia, Chen said. Mandarin Chinese is the official language of Taiwan as well as China.Taiwan FactCheck Center has a valuable but tough job, media analysts say.”In general, it plays a positive role in improving the quality of local news reporting,” said Ku Lin-lin, associate journalism professor at National Taiwan University.News outlets will welcome fact-check results to know what’s right and wrong, said George Hou, mass communications lecturer at Taiwan-based I-Shou University. But checking accuracy is tough due to the glut of information coming through people’s phones and computers via the internet, Hou said.”We have social media, we have phones and we have tablets, that’s a good thing but we’re also in an age of extremely chaotic information flow,” he said. 

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South Africa to Bring Home Citizens Under Coronavirus Lockdown in China

South African officials will soon begin to repatriate at least 132 South Africans from Wuhan, the epicenter of the global coronavirus epidemic, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced late Thursday.  
 
The decision contradicts official Chinese advice that foreigners in Wuhan will fare best if they remain in place. The move comes as global deaths begin to grow rapidly.  
 
Ramaphosa’s office stressed that none of the evacuees are ill.  
 
“None of the affected individuals has been diagnosed with the virus nor have they exhibited any symptoms thereof,” a statement read.”Upon arrival in South Africa, they will be placed in quarantine for 21 days as an additional precautionary measure. Government has been in constant communication with the families of all affected individuals and relevant departments have made the necessary arrangements to receive them,” it said.  
 
While Ramaphosa’s office did not answer numerous calls seeking comment, and did not say when people might begin to return, Health Ministry spokeswoman Dr. Lwazi Manzi told VOA that officials have one strong message for South Africans: Don’t panic.  
 
“People must absolutely not panic,” she said. “We’re not bringing back here people who have coronavirus. These are people who are very well, who are fine. Nobody has coronavirus. There are people who have requested to come home for various reasons. Some of them are students who have finished their studies. Some of them are people who finished whatever it is they’re doing in business or at leisure, and they really just need to get back home and get out of the lockdown conditions in Wuhan. And also just to sort of reiterate that we are bringing back citizens from Wuhan from that epicenter who are under lockdown. And we are bringing them back upon their request so that they can continue with their lives that they were living here in South Africa.”Virus reaches Nigeria
Africa has been largely spared since the virus began to surface late last year. Most of the cases are in China. Nigeria this week reported its first confirmed case.  
 
South Africa’s National Institute for Infectious Diseases applauded the move to repatriate South Africans and stressed that there have been no confirmed cases yet in South Africa. The institute’s Dr Kerrigan McCarthy said authorities continue to monitor the situation.”To date, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Africa and the NICD continues to test for possible cases,” she said, adding, “133 persons to date have been tested for SARS-COV, of whom 89 met the case definition for persons under investigation, as of the 28th of February. We continue to monitor trends of COVID-19 globally and in the African region to improve our knowledge of the disease and to continually enhance our surveillance and response.”
 
South Africa’s government has implemented temperature testing and health screening at Johannesburg’s Oliver Reginald Tambo Airport, the continent’s busiest, and Health Minister Pakishe Aaron Motsoaledi has assured the population that the government has contingency plans in place, including designated treatment facilities and a 24-hour hotline.  
 
Manzi added that two South African nationals are being treated in Japan after testing positive for the virus on the Princess Diamond Cruise Ship. However, she added, neither patient is showing symptoms and both will be kept under medical care until they are fully recovered.   

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Free Menstrual Products a Step Closer in Scotland

In an effort to end “period poverty,” the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday moved Scotland a step closer to becoming the first country in the world to to provide free sanitary pads and tampons in public places.The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill passed 112-0, with one abstention. If the bill moves past the second phase, where legislators propose amendments, free menstrual products will be available in places such as pharmacies, community centers and youth clubs.Menstrual products are currently taxed as luxury items.The cost of the legislation is estimated to be $31 million a year. Scotland has already made strides in ending the 5% “tampon tax.”In 2018, the country created a national policy that ensured free pads and tampons in schools and universities. The European Union plans to remove a sales tax on menstrual products by 2022 and let individual countries decide the prices.“(This) is a milestone moment for normalizing menstruation in Scotland, and sending out that real signal to people in this country about how seriously parliament takes gender equality,” the bill’s sponsor, Monica Lennon, said during Parliament’s debate. “We are changing the culture, and it’s really exciting that other countries right around the world are watching very closely to see what we do.”

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Huawei to Build First European 5G Factory in France to Soothe Western Nerves 

Huawei will build its first European manufacturing plant in France, its chairman said Thursday, as the Chinese telecom giant seeks to ease worldwide concerns stoked by U.S. charges that Beijing could use its equipment for spying. Liang Hua said Huawei, the world’s biggest producer of telecom equipment, would invest 200 million euros ($217 million) in the first phase of setting up the mobile base station plant. He said it would create 500 jobs. Huawei, which denies its equipment poses a security risk, is at the center of a storm pitting the United States against China over 5G, the next-generation mobile technology. Europe has become a major battleground. Continental market”This site will supply the entire European market, not just France’s,” Liang said at a news conference. “Our group’s activities are worldwide and for this we need a global industrial footprint.” 5G technology is expected to deliver a huge leap in the speed and capacity of communications and an exponential spike in connections between billions of devices, from smart refrigerators to driverless cars, that are expected to run on 5G networks. It was not immediately clear whether Huawei’s decision had the blessing of French President Emmanuel Macron, who has courted foreign investors but also led warnings about Chinese encroachment into the European Union’s economy. Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. Chairman Liang Hua speaks during a news conference in Paris, France, Feb. 27, 2020.Liang said Huawei had outlined the group’s plans to the French government. “This is not a charm offensive,” he said. There was no immediate reaction from Macron’s office. Early stages The United States has repeatedly warned European allies against allowing the Chinese firm into the continent’s 5G infrastructure. But European capitals are divided about how to deal with Huawei. France has yet to start rolling out its 5G networks but the top French mobile operator, state-controlled Orange, has already chosen Huawei’s European rivals, Nokia and Ericsson. Smaller operators Bouygues Telecom and Altice Europe’s SFR, whose existing networks rely heavily on Huawei, are urging Paris to clarify its position on Huawei. France says it will not discriminate against any vendor but requires all suppliers to be screened so they can secure a green light from the cybersecurity agency, which is examining Huawei equipment. Sources close to the French telecom industry say they fear Huawei will be barred in practice even if no formal ban is announced. Neighboring Germany is also struggling to reach consensus on the way forward. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling conservatives back tougher rules on foreign vendors but have stopped short of an outright ban on Huawei. British planBritain has defied the United States by allowing “high-risk vendors” such as Huawei into nonsensitive parts of its 5G network but not what it describes as “core” components. Washington has pressed London to reconsider. The mobile base stations that will be manufactured in France are not considered core to 5G network infrastructure. Huawei accuses the United States of seeking to frustrate its growth because no U.S. company can offer the same range of technology at a competitive price. The French plant will be Huawei’s second manufacturing facility outside China. It has a plant making smartphones in India but only has assembly plants elsewhere. The plant in France will generate 1 billion euros a year in sales. 

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Rains Bring Relief as Water Again Flows Through Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls

After a long and unsettling dry spell, the water at Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls is flowing again, fed by rains upstream in Angola and Namibia. But as Columbus Mavhunga reports from Victoria Falls, experts and environmentalists say global warming is having a huge impact across Africa, and the continent needs to take immediate action to help reverse the trend.

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Over 100 Guests Cleared to Leave Tenerife Hotel on Coronavirus Lockdown

None of the remaining 700-plus guests at a hotel in Spain’s Canary Islands on lockdown
over the coronavirus have shown any symptoms of the virus and 130 of them have been cleared to leave, a spokesman for the regional government said on Thursday.”All these tourists, clients, guests present no symptoms … and a decision has been made that frees the hotel from the presence of 130 people,” he said in televised comments. “At the same time, there is the possibility that the remaining ones … could be leaving the hotel as soon as a similar situation is verified,” he added.The guests and staff in Tenerife’s H10 Costa Adeje Palace Hotel have spent three days in isolation after the coronavirus was detected there in four Italian tourists.Spain’s total number of active coronavirus cases rose to 15 on Thursday from 11, with the bulk of them linked to Italy, hit by the worst outbreak of the disease yet seen in Europe, with 528 cases and 14 deaths. The four infected people in the hotel were all Italians.
 

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